My eyeglasses are now broken in two places and taped with clear packing tape instead of masking tape so that I can see out of at least one corner of each lens (sorry Dad, still no duct tape). It became obvious that these lenses were not going to last another week until I could get in to see the first doctor that was recommended to me so I began calling everyone I know here in Sarasota to get other recommendations. One ophthalmologist recommended to me was Dr. Menschner. I called right away and, luckily, he had a cancellation today, so I beat feet over to his office to get my eyes examined. Dr. Marschner is a great guy. I took a liking to him instantly and it was immediately apparent that he knows his stuff. My problem was not with the doctor; it was with the stupid forms that I had to fill out before I could get in to see him.
It started out badly when the woman behind the front desk wanted my insurance card. I explained that I do not have insurance that covers eye exams. She strongly suggested that I provide my insurance card anyway, because some eye issues are considered medical treatment and there might be a slight possibility that I would be covered even though I do not have optical coverage…blah, blah, blah. This required a lengthy explanation (which I really did not want to get into) about the fact that I have recently retired and my previous insurance ended December 31st and I have applied for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida coverage but that hasn’t been approved yet because they are waiting to receive all my medical records so I have an interim policy while I wait for BCBS to approve me and that policy (as well as the eventual BCBS policy, for that matter) will be for catastrophic coverage only – etc., etc., etc. During the entire time I was trying to explain, the woman stared at me vacantly.
“Oh, so you don’t have any insurance that covers optical issues, then.”
Isn’t that what I said to begin with?
Once we got through that quagmire I sat down to fill out the paperwork. One of the first questions asked for my social security number. Now, like any well-informed American these days I am sufficiently leery of identity theft and don’t want to give out my social security number unless it is absolutely necessary.
“Do you need my social security number?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
My fault. I should know better than to ask a question that can be answered yes or no. I left that line blank and continued to the other questions. I did the best I could until I got to the question below, which was followed by a single fill-in-the-blank line:
Have you ever been treated for any diseases (such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.) Yes or No. If Yes, please explain_________________________________.
I am 54 years old. No, I have never, ever been to a doctor in my life. No, I have never, ever been treated for any disease in my life. Nope, not for the chickenpox I had as a child. Not for the pleurisy I had when I was 19 or the conjunctivitis I had when I was 23. Not even for the Lyme Disease I had two years ago. OF COURSE I HAVE BEEN TREATED FOR DISEASES IN MY LIFE – and just exactly HOW do you expect me to put all that on a single line. I turned to the man sitting next to me in disbelief and said, “This is a really stupid question.” Then I read him the question. He agreed with me that it was pretty stupid, so I went up to the front desk and asked for clarification.
The front office girls (by now there were two of them) had been eavesdropping on our conversation and readily admitted they were curious to know which question I thought was stupid, so I read it to them. One of them said, “It says right there what it refers to – cancer, diabetes and heart disease.”
“It says ANY disease and uses those three as examples,” I pointed out.
“Well it means are you currently being treated for any diseases,” she further explained.
I pressed the point. “The question says, “Have you EVER been treated for ANY disease. It’s a stupid question.” I sat back down and just answered no. I wasn’t making any friends in this office and I still had the battle of the social security number to fight. When I handed in the forms I asked, “So what do you use the social security number for? Do you file by it?”
“No, we just have to have it on file.”
“Well, since we’re not filing for insurance, you shouldn’t need it, so I just left that line blank.” I tried to explain my reasons – identity theft concerns and all – but they were clearly disgusted with me and had tuned me out. The real stupidity of it all is that neither of these employees will say a word to the doctor about the fact that this question should be reworded – they would rather defend the form than try to improve it because that’s the way it’s always been done. God forbid we should have a creative idea or try to improve things. Let’s focus on the system rather than the customer. It’s one of the reasons that America is failing. And it’s stupid.