Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bill

Agents of the devil, apparently
Like most couples, we've divvied up assignments for household chores based on each individual's strengths and interests. For example, David is good at drinking beer, so he takes care of our household's patronage of nearby taverns. I am good at telling people what to do, so it's my job to tell Stella to get your shoes on, get your shoes on, get your shoes on, for the love of all that is good and holy GET YOUR EVERLOVIN SHOES ON ALREADY.

See how well I did that? That's why it's my job.

Also it is my job to pay the bills. The reason for this dates back through the mists of time, to when we started dating in the mid 1990s (or the Pleistocene Era, as it is more commonly known). David was going through a tall stack of unopened mail, when he asked me what day it was. "The sixteenth," I said. "Why?" It turns out that he hadn't paid the power bill in months and the power company had announced that it would be turning the lights off -- guess when? -- on the sixteenth. It wasn't that he was short of money. He just didn't like sitting down and paying the bills. I still get a twitch in my eyelid all these years later just thinking about it.

I was looking for a picture
of a light and this is what
came up. I think I love it.
 Also, David had a unique approach to paying doctor's bills. He immediately recycled all letters from either his insurance company or the health care provider for the first six months. At the end of that period, he figured the two parties had more or less hashed out how much he owed, opened the next letter that came, and paid that amount. Actually, now that I think about it, David may have been on to something there. Perhaps we can get President Obama to include this approach as part of his efforts to reform the health care system. I'd like us all, rich or poor, to have the right to throw away the first six months of bills from health care providers.

My approach to bills, on the other hand, is to read all the fine print and have a firm mastery of the rules. Sometimes I think half  my success in life is due to reading the instructions, and so I try to use that same approach when I pay the bills. This comes in particularly handy when navigating the maze of our  health insurance and its preferred providers, deductibles, and other topics that give any sane person the dry heaves.

For example, when Stella was born, I had to get pre-approval from my insurance company to give birth in the hospital, which I obtained. However, I neglected to get pre-approval for the baby (who, remember, at that point didn't technically exist) to be in the hospital, and was therefore subject to an additional deductible. Since the insurance company knew I was having a baby, I don't understand what they thought would happen to the baby. Perhaps they thought that Stella would squirt out from me at such a speed that she would fly out of the hospital and all the way across the street, where David would catch her in his loving arms, wrap her in a blanket made of sustainably grown organic cotton, and ride her home on -- oh heck, let's say a camel, as long as we're going for the big time.

That didn't happen.

BUT, based on my close reading of the fine print, I appealed the health insurance company's decision and won. I think even they were embarrassed by their logic, and that's saying a lot.

Ever since that fateful day in the mid 1990s, it's been my job to pay the bills around here, and I think I've done a pretty good job of it. I can't even remember the last time I was late paying a bill. So it looks like I'll continue to take charge of this job for the foreseeable future -- or until Stella gets her shoes on, whichever comes first.

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