I got a phone call just now from John Marconi, an investigator at the NYS Department of Financial Services Fraud Office. His number came up as 212-555-5555, which can’t be called back, as it happens– it’s not a working number. I spoke to John for fifteen minutes.
He listened carefully to my description of being denied services by doctors I was referred to by Empire Blue Baboon’s Asshole, the private insurance company I chose after being assigned my income-based level of PPACA “health care” by the New York State of Health Marketplace.
I read John the 800 number for the New York State Insurance Department I’d been given yesterday, ninety minutes into my investigative work, by the kind woman at the office of the Medicaid Inspector General, who got it from her supervisors. John explained to me that the NYS Insurance Department had been abolished in 2012, but that the 800 number I’d been given was currently the Department of Financial Services consumer help hotline.
The governor, while abolishing the Insurance Department in 2012 also abolished the Banking Department. These abolished agencies were merged into the more streamlined and user friendly NYS Department of Financial Services. John thought it was a good move, though he admitted it might be more confusing for the public. He urged me to call that hotline, since his office usually investigates consumer fraud against insurance companies, and fraud by brokers, and things like that.
I asked him to use a word other than fraud to describe an insurance company sending you to, so far, two doctors and then denying coverage when you arrived for needed medical services, or informing you that an ultrasound of your kidney was covered but that an ultrasound of your pelvis was not.
He conceded he didn’t have a word that described this behavior better than ‘fraud’, but urged me again to speak to the consumer hotline, they were the experts. If need be they would refer the matter back to his office. He modestly told me he was not an expert on fraud under the PPACA (apparently impossible to commit, unless you are a health insurance consumer), though he was the fraud investigator on duty today (they rotate, apparently, today was his day on the phones).
John said he could connect me to the consumer services hotline. I told him I’d expect to have a long wait to speak to anyone at the consumer hotline. He assured me that wasn’t the case, that they picked up right away. He then connected me to the number I was planning to call today, foolishly thinking it was the NYS Insurance Department, 800-342-3736.
It will not surprise you, dear reader, to learn that I found myself instantly back in a nightmare cul-de-sac. This was the 800 version of the very first number I’d called yesterday, 212-480-6400. I recognized the voice prompt tree: abandoned “zombie” properties — press one, mortgages– press 2, something else was three and “all others”, like those defrauded by a private medical insurance company they are forced to buy services from, press 4.
I pressed four and learned that the expected waiting time to speak to the same office I’d talked to the day before, on my first of six calls, was fifteen minutes. I called John Marconi back, but he’d called from a blocked number and the call could not be completed.
In the interest of completeness I dialed the final number I’d been given, for The New York State Department of Health, Division of Health Insurance, 800-343-9000. A female robot greeted me:
“Thank you for calling E-Med Meade provider services. This call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes. Please have your NPI number available.
“For claims, billing, remittance form orders and prior approval questions, press option one. For new enrollment into the NYS Medicaid program, revalidation… blah blah… and provider maintenance, press option two. For explanation of eligibility response, press option three. For MOAZ and threshold override applications press option four. For Peatzar support, press option 5.”
It had taken less than three hours of my life to come full circle in the cycle of futility that is our current United States of voracious, psychopathic corporations and their human personifications.
Our current president-elect is making good on all the business stimulating promises of the recent past: complete opacity, secret presidential kill lists, elimination of all health and safety regulations, denial of decades of science on the destructiveness of carbon released from burning fossil fuel, destruction of collective bargaining for workers, dismantling of the social safety net, nominating the CEO of the most lucrative private corporation in history, one devoted to extracting and exploiting every last bit of the fossil-based product that is doing the most to destroy life on the planet, to negotiate on our behalf, etc.
Let’s be honest, though. He got a good start in all this from his celebrity all-star predecessor, that brilliant, caring, charismatic soon to be self-made billionaire, who is taking his subdued victory lap now prior to his sensational, highly engaging, funny, record-shattering “Raking in the Tubmans Tour.”
God bless us all.