Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Health Care?

Have you ever applied for health insurance on your own? If not, let me suggest you never do. The application process is enough to give you a health condition.

I am applying for a health insurance plan for my whole family, and there are five of us. That meant that when I filled out the 28 page online form, I filled it out five times. I can’t even do that math, but I know it’s a lot of pages. Lord help you if you answer yes to any of the questions, because down drops another page with 56 follow-up questions.

There was all sorts of stuff that made no sense to me, like the height and weight questions. I understand asking about the adults’ dimensions, but the form was the same for the kids.
Son Number One - 8 years old - height and weight?
There was no button for “standard.”
I don’t know how tall he is, he’s 8. He’s short on me, but the same as every kid in his third grade class. Weight? Too heavy to carry, still light enough to knock over easily.

They wanted actual numbers, so I had to leave my computer and round up the boys.
“Get my tape measure from the garage and meet me at the bathroom scale.”
Son Number One – 8 years old – 4’-5” tall, 70 pounds. Like those numbers mean anything to anyone.

After I had gone through each family member’s complete medical history, explaining every cough and sneeze we’ve had in the last 5-10 years, they asked, “Has any person on this application, for any reason, seen a physician in the last 5 years? If so, please explain.”
There was no button to click for “see above,” so off I went again down medical memory lane. Multiple hours, and all my medical records later, I hit send, only to get an email a few days later asking me to call them to answer a few additional questions.

I innocently dialed the number thinking, this should only take a minute, since I answered 6000 pages of questions online. What more could they possibly ask me?

“Thank you for calling. My name is Nancy and I am a doctor. The underwriters have a few follow-up questions regarding your health, as well as that of your sons.”

“OK, shoot.”

“Please state your address, including city and ZIP code.”

What does my address have to do with my health?

“Has your weight fluctuated by more than 10 pounds in the last two years?”

I’m a 6’-1”, 210-pound man. My weight fluctuates more than 10 pounds if I forget to eat breakfast.

“Are you currently expecting a child with anyone besides your wife?”

If I am, you’re going to need to sell me life insurance, not health insurance.

“So, the last time you were at the doctor was October of 2012, for a chest cold, is that correct?”


“What was your blood pressure at that visit?”

“I have no idea.”

“Was it normal or abnormal?”

“Uhhh… normal I guess. No one said anything.”

“And did the symptoms clear up?”

“Of my blood pressure?”

“No, the chest cold.”

Are you asking if I still have the chest cold I had a year ago? I thought you said you were a doctor?

“Has your health situation changed in any way since you completed this application?”

You mean, besides my blood pressure during this call?

“Let’s move on to Son Number One. Please state his address, including city and ZIP code.”

“The same as mine.”

“I need you to state it for the record.”

I just did. Same as mine. He’s 8 years old. He lives with us. He doesn’t have his own apartment.

“You say that Son Number One takes Flonase, is that correct?”

“Yes, for seasonal allergies.”

“What is he allergic to?”


“I mean, is it grasses, pollen, pets, dust, or mold?”

“Whatever comes out in spring. Grasses and pollen, I guess.”

“How often does he have symptoms?”

“Every spring.”

“No, I mean how often in the spring?”

“Once, then we give him the Flonase.”

“OK. Has Son Number One, in the last 12 months, used tobacco or nicotine patches or any kind of nicotine substitute? And I apologize for that question, since I know he’s 8 years old.”

If you know he’s 8 years old, why are you asking the question? If any of your underwriters are parents, I’m calling Child Protective Services.

“Let’s move on to Son Number Two. Please state his address, including city and ZIP code.”


“Does he live with you?”

You just made me say the entire address again. It’s the same as the last two times. If you would just accept “the same as mine” as an answer, you wouldn’t have to ask the stupid follow-up question. Yes, he’s my 7-year-old son, so we keep him here at the house.

“You stated that his last doctor’s visit was in 2012 for a flu shot. Was everything normal at that time?”

“Yes, it seemed like a pretty normal flu shot.”

“OK. Has his weight fluctuated more than 10 pounds in the last year?”

“Uh… maybe. He might have gained 10 pounds in the last year, but he’s 7 years old. I don’t know how much he weighed when he was 6.”

“OK, let’s move on to Son Number Three. Please state his address, including city and ZIP code.”


“Son Number Three broke his right femur in October of 2011, correct?”


“We have a claim for an office visit with the orthopedic surgeon in 2012. If he broke his leg in 2011, why were you visiting his doctor in 2012?”

“Because he broke his leg in October. His cast came off at the end of November. The year 2012 was only a month later.”

“So this was a follow up visit?”

Yes, I guess the orthopedic surgeon figured he might not be doing his job if he just sawed the cast off our 3-year-old and said, “Good luck!”

“There were x-rays at that same time. Were those also for the follow-up visit?”

Yes, the way I understand it, the doctor has a hard time seeing the bone without them.

“OK, thank you, Mr. Schmatjen. You should hear something back in 10 to 15 days.”

That seems like a reasonable amount of time to look up the proper weight for the average 8-year-old, cross-match all our addresses, and do the math on the 2011-2012 broken femur time discrepancy.


Strangely, the underwriters did not have a single question regarding the lady who gave birth to these three children. I guess they figure if she’s still alive, she’s plenty tough enough.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

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