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A Letter to My Durable Medical Equipment Provider
May 1, 2008
Note: The names have been changed to protect the innocent corporate and insurance interests in this piece. Also, as of this writing, Eric has yet to find out if his situation has been resolved.
Dear Care Coordinator:
Early this evening on my drive home from work, I received a phone call from someone in your office. This woman told me that my insurance plan doesn’t cover my durable medical equipment supplies from your company, Medical Equipment One, and that I’ll have to go with Another Company, Inc., for my insurance to cover my supplies.
Care Coordinator, this is all the information I received from this woman. No, wait…that’s not true. She also gave me the phone number for Another Company, Inc., to try to be helpful. I called Another Company immediately, but because it was after 5:00 PM, there was no one to take my call. I’m going to have to wait and call them tomorrow morning and go through the whole process of getting another supplier tomorrow.
I’m curious about several things:
1. Why was my previous shipment of medical supplies for my Type 1 diabetes (insulin pump supplies, test strips, lancets, and so on) sent to me in early February from your company without any mention of my insurance being unable to cover it? My employer switched insurance carriers effective January 1 of this year, so I don’t understand the five-month lag. The past three months have been pretty peachy, but it appears as if I was sitting on a medical supplies time bomb.
2. The frustrating—well, one of the frustrating—things about this situation is that last week you called to tell me that my supplies would be shipping this week and then called me this afternoon to let me know that my supplies were going out the door today. But then I get the phone call on my drive home to inform me otherwise—and at a time when no one is open and I have no way to contact them to try to figure out what’s going on. And, so, here I am, anxious about what’s going to happen and assuming that tomorrow morning I’ll spend hours on the phone trying to figure out how to get on with Another Company and expedite the process of having my medical supplies shipped so that I’ll get the things I need in the short window left before several of my diabetes items run out.
3. Oh, which brings me to this: Why I wasn’t told earlier about this mix-up in your continuing to keep me as a client? Wouldn’t it have been possible to give me more than a day to find another durable medical equipment provider? Five days before I need new test strips and infusion sets is not a whole lot of time to get everything squared away with Another Company. Not in my experience. I mean, really, it can’t be the case that I’m the only customer you guys have whose insurance provider is Major University Health Care.
4. Who paid for my first shipment of medical supplies if, as this woman told me, it wasn’t covered by my insurance? The woman on the phone said something about an unpaid balance on my account, which was news to me. If this is the case, then I anticipate even more time on the phone with insurance and billing and on and on with appeals and, well…boy, that’s an exciting prospect!
5. How did this happen in the first place? (Wait, see question 3 again.) I’m frustrated because in the past year I’ve gone through this with three different medical suppliers, and it’s getting old—especially when I have to triage the situation last-minute by spending an entire morning making phone calls because information was withheld or the customer service/communication was poor.
I’m not placing blame directly on you, Care Coordinator. You were more than helpful with the first shipment, and I was happy with the level of customer service last week when you called me and let me know that the shipment was going to be coming my way this week; and then again I was happy with the customer service on Tuesday when you called and said the supplies were going to be shipping out Tuesday evening. But of course all of that customer service becomes moot if the internal communication at Medical Equipment One is such that I’m covered at lunch and not covered by dinner.
If there’s someone there with whom I can speak so I can get a more clear answer about this, do let me know. I thought that after going through a pretty miserable runaround with Old Medical Equipment Supplier last year, finally, my supplier woes were behind me with Medical Equipment One. But then the supplies rug gets pulled out from underneath me with so little time left to get things straightened out before I need a new shipment.
Follow-up note: Eric has found out that the phone call he received on his drive home on Tuesday was in fact misinformation given to him by the woman who called him from Medical Equipment One. As of Wednesday, April 30, Medical Equipment One was checking into the situation, and they promised him that they’d ship the materials as soon as they could and that they’d call him to let him know everything was on its way. Eric, however, doesn’t yet know if everything is on its way.
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