Medical tedium

Medicare insisted on knowing whether I’d retired or not before they’d let me have a dexa scan last week and, if I had, what date.

What date indeed? I retired from a marketing career after 20 years, but I was too young for all the retirement benefits, so I guess that doesn’t count. Then I retired, sort of, from a consulting company I started, but I have no idea what date, and besides I’m still doing some occasional consulting, so am I retired? And then I just retired from being a standardized patient (where you pretend to have a variety of medical conditions to give med students a chance to practice taking histories and doing exams) because Temple University, perhaps taking a clue from Medicare, suddenly wanted to know, after I’d worked for them for nearly ten years, every single job I’d had from when to when and when, if I’d retired, I’d retired. Way too tedious.

So I just made up a date for Medicare’s benefit: 9/9/02, but now I guess I have to remember that for every future Medicare encounter, unless Congress takes all our benefits away and it doesn’t matter anymore, but since I chose it because it seemed easy to remember I guess that won’t be a problem until I’m in a state where I really need Medicare to take care of me because I can’t remember anything.

Their questionnaire was all computerized. The ladies at the desk were asking all the old people, very solicitously, whether they needed any help “working” the computer. I was filling mine out on a tablet, since I was also having an MRI for this nagging pain in my hip (during which they gave me headphones playing Shubert’s 9th symphony, one of my favorites, but which will never sound the same to me again) and the two visits were combined (I know that doesn’t make any sense but neither does medical bureaucracy).

Anyway, fortunately for my ego, the receptionist at the MRI place didn’t ask me if I needed help, so I just stylused along on my tablet, sighing loudly and groaning when I got sick of the questions. At the end they had boxes to check about how very easy, easy, difficult, or very difficult the process was. I checked very easy, but they really needed another option: very easy; very tedious.


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