“In-network” vs. “Out-of-network” providers

I woke up this morning to a surprise medical bill in my e-mail inbox for a sick visit I paid to the doctor last October — that’s almost a year ago. I was surprised given that I knew my insurance should have been billed a long time ago, not to mention the co-pay was paid on the spot. After looking at this three-figure bill in shock, I visited my primary care doctor’s website to discover that they no longer accept my insurance, which didn’t really make a lot of sense because the last I checked when I visited last year, they did accept my insurance. So now I’m getting penalized for this? Their website says that they will still accept my insurance, but bill my insurance as an “out-of-network” provider. The entire concept of “in-network” vs. “out-of-network” has always driven me crazy in my adult life, as what… this is basically doctors’ and hospitals’ ways of making the most money possible by signing with insurance companies that will give them the best deal. From a capitalistic standpoint, that makes sense, but from a patient planning standpoint in terms of how to choose a doctor where your insurance is going to cover the bulk, if not all, of your bill, this is a complete nightmare, and part of the reason I’m sure that people hate visiting doctors period.

In the end, it was a mistake, and my doctor texted me to let me know that the bill was sent in error and to disregard it. But I still got mad about it. I got mad being reminded how senseless and difficult our healthcare system is, especially given how much it costs. And I also got frustrated knowing I could no longer see this doctor given that she doesn’t accept my insurance anymore. Now, I need to find a new primary care doctor, which makes me sad given that I really liked this one. It’s like finding a new friend — takes too long and is arduous and sometimes painful.

Last minute planning gone awry

A friend of mine said that she had suddenly found a lot of free time given that she just got let go from her job today, so she thought that the next month or so might be a good time to visit. As much as I like seeing my friends at opportunities I regularly do not have, I looked at the calendar from now through the end of the year and realized that almost every single weekend is taken up by something, whether it’s a booked show or live event, a dinner with local friends, out-of-town visitors who will be staying with us, and our own personal and professional travels. The ability to have a spontaneous visitor come and stay with us for 2-4 days isn’t a likely possibility anymore.

I felt kind of bad telling her this, but I guess this is the way our lives are now. We plan a lot of things ahead of time, and with out-of-town visitors, those events really need to be planned far in advance to ensure that no conflicts arise. This is part of grown-up life now.

Nights and weekends available

Tonight, I was on the phone tonight with my friend who is currently in a medical residency program, and as of next summer, she will be starting her fellowship in movement disorders at UCSF. I’m really excited for her, if for nothing else but 1) she’ll finally get a chance to live on the West Coast, as she’s always wanted and dreamed about, and 2) she will actually for the first time in years have nights and weekends relatively free, as her fellowship hours are fairly “normal” white-collar hours, at about 9-5pm Monday through Friday. And because I’ll still be going back to San Francisco regularly for work and family, I’ll be able to see her more often. The last time I got to see her was almost two years ago, sadly.

People have often asked me why I never considered going to culinary school or working in a bakery given how much I love food. If there is one reason only, well, aside from the fact that I’d never have the salary I’d want, it’s that I’d have zero flexibility and I would have to kiss goodbye all nights and weekends. Those would be the times I’d have to work. That’s the way the service industry is no matter what country you are in. You are there to serve; that’s your job, your role, your everything. I love food. But I don’t love it that much to give away all my time and my freedoms. And frankly, I love serving the people I love, not a bunch of random strangers who have random (and chances are, crappy) judgments that I could truly care less about.

Sleep debt fulfilled

I legitimately slept 11 hours straight. Now, we know for sure my entire mind and body were exhausted, mentally and physically.

Then, I took a nap on the couch after eating breakfast. Still exhausted.

Chris is accusing me of having my favorite activity be sleep now. That is not always 100 percent correct, but for this weekend, it certainly is, though I am planning on fulfilling what feels like my “cooking debt” tomorrow by preparing fish curry and dal. Eating in Vegas was anything but healthful.

 

Losing time flying west to east

Flying during the day going west to east in the U.S. always feels like the biggest waste of time. You spend somewhere between four to five hours in the air, and then when you land, not only were you nowhere as productive as you would have been if you were on the ground, but you’ve also just lost three hours of time due to the time difference. That’s why ages ago, when I was more nimble (at least, physically seeming), I used to take red-eye flights cross country all the time because it seemingly “saved” time, or I would take flights later in the day when I didn’t need to be as productive with work (or simply chose not to be).

Today, the flight from Vegas back to JFK was only about four hours, yet I was so exhausted I slept about half that time, with the other half reserved for eating breakfast and catching up on a few work emails. I guess it just goes to show that staying out late for consecutive nights is really not something I can sustain for more than two days. Even that was trying on me. I anticipate much sleep debt being fulfilled this weekend.

Rough nights

Despite not getting to bed until 4am this morning, I still managed to make it to my Help Desk shift by 8:45am to ensure that everyone knew where to go, where to store their luggage, and where breakfast was. It’s amazing what a little makeup and a shower can do to someone who barely got four hours of sleep and is hung over.

However, from the looks of it, it didn’t look like our customers were as bright-eyed and cheery as I was. A great number of them never even made it to the 9am breakfast. Some exec meetings were cancelled or postponed, or declared useless (by using more friendly terms) because people were too hungover. And then there were the guilty people who rolled in at around 11 or 11:30 after the sessions had begun to ask where to store their luggage. We smiled. They smiled. We all knew what the other was smiling about.

Conference life in Las Vegas. This is what it looks like.

 

 

“Micromanager”

I knew tonight was going to be a big night given that it was the night of our big conference party at the major night club at the Cosmopolitan here in Las Vegas. Prospects, customers, partners, and all my fellow colleagues from around the world have gathered for these three days of learning, sharing knowledge, and of course, partying. I knew I’d be out later than a typical work night for obvious reasons, but what I didn’t realize was that I’d be egged on to party later and later by my very own manager, who had transitioned into this role at the beginning of this summer.

Before, I actually did have a real micromanager. She barely listened to anything I said — everything was in one ear and out the other. Recording what was discussed in email or various forms of written and electronic communication never worked because she never retained the information we shared with her. Now, I actually have a manager who listens and retains information, and gives me sound advice. It’s actually kind of refreshing and reassuring.

The one part I was not prepared for, though, is that he “micromanages” us when it comes to going out and having fun. Before tonight, I’d never seen such an onslaught of text messages encouraging my work counterparts and me to go out and join him at some other night club outside of the hotel property. It was relentless until we agreed to join.

It certainly served some amusement. I suppose I can handle this type of “micromanaging.” It’s definitely more fun.

Or painful, considering I didn’t get back to my room until 3:30am. I’m really not feeling that young anymore.

 

Flying on 9/11

I don’t really have any superstitions. I kind of think that when you have them, it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So while I took two flights today, one from SFO to LAX, then the second from LAX to Las Vegas since American Airlines doesn’t have a direct SFO > LAS flight, I didn’t even really think about the fact that September 11, 2018, was the 17-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. I also didn’t really think about the fact that I was flying on the airline that got taken down by terrorists on that dark day. But apparently, some customers who were traveling to our company’s conference in Las Vegas were fully thinking about it, and even opted to not travel on September 11, and instead to arrive on September 12…. when our conference events begin at 7:45am that day. What this ultimately meant was travel delays, many of them missing the entire first official day of our company’s user conference. So, in other words, it meant a complete waste of time and money.

I always feel conflicted when I hear stories like this because on the one hand, everyone is scared of something — heights, spiders, the dark, swimming, you name it. I’m sympathetic to that since I clearly have my own fears. But to allow a fear to prevent you from living your everyday life? It’s hard for me to be sympathetic to this type of thing. Life disruption is not worth it. Live your everyday life to the fullest. Some fears are meant to be faced, especially when they are as delusional as this one. Do they really think that security would not be ultra heightened on days of anniversaries of major terrorist attacks?

“Please take care of her”

Chris flew into San Francisco today for the week for work, and so we met up with my parents and aunt tonight for dinner at one of the very few spots that my parents will not complain about when we go to eat. Dinner really did not last very long; we generally don’t have much conversation past “How’s work?” or “How’s the weather been in San Francisco/New York?”, so it’s not like we have any real catching up to do. It probably lasted just over an hour, even with five courses of food.

Chris noted at the end that my mom was being unusually friendly and warm to him throughout the evening. She was much more affectionate, touchy-feely, and she smiled a lot more than she normally does (outside of the period when she first met him, of course). At the very end, as we said our goodbyes and we headed back to downtown as they went back to the house, my mom says to Chris, “Please take care of her,” and does her little laugh.

Oh, that’s what this was about, Chris said. She’s scared I’m going to dump you the way my cousin and wife broke up just recently!

I’m still not sure that’s what that was really about, but maybe that is true? All parents’ worst fears are around their children getting dumped or left alone with a child, or being poor.

 

Anti-social to the max

It’s always a bit funny to me when people ask me how my parents are doing, especially the people in my life who have known me all my life or the majority of it. There’s nothing really that has changed about them, other than perhaps an increasing distrust of the world and people around them. Other than that, they are pretty much the same people, plus whatever number of years that have passed.

Today, my friends and I went out on a day trip and came back, and they dropped me off in front of my parents’ house. My dad was coming out of the garage onto the driveway, which really isn’t that far from where my friend’s car was stopped. My friends, being the friendly people they are who have known my dad as long as they’ve known me, so over 21 years, smiled and waved directly at him. He had a confused look on his face, as though he’d never seen either of them before, and says to me, “who’s that?” When I told him who they were, you know, people we’ve known forever and who were party of my bridal party, he simply says, “oh,” and walks back into the garage.

So much for being friendly and waving back.