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Chronic Snarkopolist: Letter to My Doctors Who are Sending Me to Collections

Post Published: 16 February 2011
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Category: chronic autoimmune conditions column, Chronic Snarkopolist, Column
This post currently has 11 responses. Leave a comment

Hello my loves! This week I needed to send a letter to all the doctors sending me to collections for medical debt. I would LOVE to hear your letters in the comments or in thyrants! I would love to hear letters written about anything and everything in your hearts! This week – this is what is in my heart.

Dear every doctor who is collecting:

Over the last few decades I have accrued hundreds of thousands of dollars in MY SHARE of healthcare fees. I have done EVERYTHING possible to avoid debt because I’m a “responsible” Midwestern gal. I paid off every credit card each month… till I had to start putting HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS each month just for my medications to keep me alive.

I know when you look at your income you won’t see that. I know YOU just want to get paid because YOU went to school. Guess what- SO DID I. I’m sorry that this feels like an adversarial relationship. I get bills from you – labs, radiation, surgery tech fees ranging from thousands to even $11.19. I have tried over the decades to make payments but when the bills ad into the hundreds of thousands even when I’m INSURED, and I am either during my gravy time employed or worse a student making about $700 a month and spend three times that on my medical fees alone, I cannot POSSIBLY re-pay you in full.

And I’m sorry you think you cannot possibly live without making plenty of money from payments in full at the time of service. I cannot possibly live without healthcare. I WANT TO THANK the physicians and healthcare workers who have taken their time and effort to keep me alive even when I didn’t have all the money up front.

Over the years some of you have been really kind and offered to let me pay you $5.00 a week. Some of your office managers have been amazing to work with. Others of you have called me horrific names like lazy or a bum. Some of the collections agents you have employed have said, “I would have made better plans for my life.” As if any of us plans for chronic illness. Additionally- I have NEVER been rude or unkind to the agent on the phone or pointed out that I have TEN TIMES the education they probably have and I did it SICK.  No – I have always been gracious and attempted to make payment arrangements BECAUSE I AM HONORABLE. I believe people should be paid. I also believe people have a right to LIVE – and part of living for me is to have my medical needs met.

When I have worked with the poor – or even the middle class or blue collar people who don’t have the means – sometimes I have ignored payment. Once, an HIV pos guy bounced a check. I ignored it. You know what he did? He decided to move to his parents in Cali and he cashed out his 401K and paid his balance of $1000 to me. I cried because I was so humbled.  I would have NEVER ASKED for it. I knew his expenses. And at the time I was able to work 2 jobs and had insurance.

I have done very questionable things to have insurance – like marry assholes in non-romantic bargains – because FUCK THE MAN – AND FUCK BIG MEDICINE AND FUCK HEALTH CARE. I’m basically uninsurable without someone to marry me or IF I cannot hold a full job TRADITIONAL 9-5 (or in academia all hours job)- which I rarely can anymore without taking entire years off for treatment in between and going on cobra – and writing like I am now.

Each time I do this – I hold my breath that I don’t lose my healthcare. My insurance companies have wanted me dead since I was a little girl. And I have seen MANY healthcare providers who glance fleetingly at my bloodwork and are AFRAID of me. AFRAID to touch me. I am HUMBLED by the healthcare workers who will face me. I AM HUMBLED by the doctors who will deal with me –  and that is why I work so hard to repay the ones who have worked with me the longest.

I have no savings or much retirement left because I have used it to pay for my ongoing healthcare. I want you to know that is how important it is to me. I’m sorry if you feel angry or screwed over. I want you to know that I feel dirty each time I get a collections letter. And I want you to know that you can’t POSSIBLY MAKE my credit any worse. I’m sure that is one of the reasons why my ex divorced me. Because he could never dig me out of such an enormous economic medical hole. Even doing bankruptcy NOW wouldn’t stop the debts that incur in the future.

I’m not a bad person. And I want you to know I don’t think you are either. Only two of your office staff managers ever been rude in all this time and one made cry by telling me I couldn’t come back or speak to the doctor because I owed $223 dollars even though I had an abscess requiring an emergency surgery (that I received within one day from a really great surgeon who made several thousand dollars from my insurance) and the other was just a cunt and told me I was a bad person and hung up on me while I was trying to discuss a payment plan. “You can just discuss that with collections. We don’t need your kind here.” Neither understood there is a difference between illness and bad. I’ll chalk it up and mulligan it.

I deserve to live because I WANT TO LIVE and I have worked HARD to stay alive. And I have made important contributions to this world. So when you get really offended -and some of you have called me and directly spoken to me and acted really indignant and some of you have office managers to deal with the dirty work of money – I want you to know – I’m SORRY that I owe all so much money for my healthcare and you probably won’t ever get it because I’m currently using what I have to stay alive NOW.

You won’t ever see this letter. And I know you just think non-payment is a slacker who took advantage of you. But I will tell you this. Once, when I was working with a chemo patient, her oncologist sent me a check because she was so moved by the work we were doing and asked to work with me as well. And she did- along with her partner. And you know – I REALLY FUCKING NEEDED THAT MONEY at the time. And maybe if you open your heart sometimes you will get the money need. It is how I’ve been sustaining for ever. And ever. And ever.

Every drop of debt on my credit cards and in collections right now has gone to keep alive. I call that honorable debt. And I just want you to know that if you are feeling bitter right now, the only promise I can make is that I try every day to touch the world and make it better and contribute since financially I am not able. I’m sorry I owe you money.

Sincerely,

Melissa

Thank you for reading the letter to my collecting healthcare providers. I’d love your comments. I’d love to know your experiences.  Some of you have similar experiences some don’t. You’re the best!

I’ll be back next week! Kiss kiss!

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11 Responses to “Chronic Snarkopolist: Letter to My Doctors Who are Sending Me to Collections”

  1. Lolly says:

    Dear Melly Mel,

    Happy Birthday and what better present could you receive than they waver these ongoing medical bills.
    It’s a catch 22 you have insurance yet you still have to pay a percentage of he cost you have chronic illness so are unable to bring in a regular income so how the fuck does anyone expect you to pay for health bills to keep you alive..don’t they know that stress only makes an illness worse and what do, they do stress you out, to the max. I would be sending a letter similar to this if I where in your predicament alas I am not.

    If i had the money I would go private health care because the NHS is just letting me down every time. I’m sick of fighting it, sick of one not knowing what the other is doing and confusing things even more than they are. Nothing in life is free not even the good ole NHS.

    I can’t imagine what it must be like for you knowing you need ongoing medical treatment and each time the bills come in on top the bill’s you already owe. Is there anything you can do? so that for those with Chronic long term illnesses can get financial help or something so you wouldn’t have to worry about how you are going to meet the cost to stay alive..It fucking suck big time

    I’m so sorry that you have to have the added burden of dept along side your Chronic Health issues. I hope one day there will be good solution to this ongoing problem. I wish I could help if I could I would but I can’t.

    Lolly

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Dearest Lolly-lol,
      Thank you so much for your love and understanding! I once had a mentor tell me to write a famous book then pay all my debts off with the proceeds from my writing! hahaha!

      I still wonder if I might not someday. 😉

      Yes it does stress us out. And it is hard to be let down, not matter what the situation.

      HUGS you.
      xo
      Melissa

  2. mandajane says:

    :’)
    i love this
    i love that you wrote it,and that i understand it
    i hate it too,that any of us have to understand this

    no good deed goes unpaid…is that the saying?
    and to all those jerks…GRR
    makes me sad that they’ll never ever know the whole truth

    and that is what makes you special…cause i wouldve told em off…okay,probably not…but still!

    thank you for this

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Hello MandaJane,

      It is hard not to speak up when things happen. It is hard to just roll with the collections and debts and try not to let it stress us. For me – it is one of the single most stressful factors this debt and paying for my healthcare – outside of actually being ill. Crazy.

      xo Adore you gorgeous!
      Melissa

  3. Mary says:

    Melissa, I was working for Bankers Life when I was diagnosed and had a boss who knew about thyroid disease and its life long complications. I was young 24 and my family wanted me to return home for local doc and all that. She set me up with a frozen premium policy like 124.was all and it never changed that’s was in 75 in 82 my not yet x cancelled it thinking his work insurance was all I needed. I have a judgment against him but he moved over seas and its hard to catch them when they sneak in. So now I’m using my svings and inheritance to survive after having gone bankrupt due to mediacl bills. If I were you I would send a copy of your letter to your senators and representatives and the president of thhe insurance company it won’t hurt anything and hell maybe you will be heard. Hugs Mary

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Dear Mary-
      Ugh – I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you. What an awful thing. And yes- I wonder what would happen if everyone with debt wrote a letter and sent it in to their senators and representatives.

      GIANT HUGS to you.
      xo
      Melissa

  4. Denise says:

    I would never have understood this coming from the UK until I moved to Australia. Not near the stage you are at but I spend a good deal of my income (which luckily is larger here)on medication and doctors apts. My doctor would like to put me on growth hormone too but the cost is outwith my budget $600 a month and so unfair that the best treatment for me I cant afford. As they say in Scotland ‘you can’t get blood out of a stone’ and I think they have totally bled you dry over the years – they cant take what you dont have!

    So sorry you have this on top of being ill. Hugs
    Denise
    x

    • Melissa Travis says:

      Dear Denise –
      yes indeedly do – hard when the best treatment isn’t the one we can afford. And frustrating. VERY FRUSTRATING.

      What are you doing then – in the meantime for your treatment?
      x
      Melissa

      • Denise says:

        Well am on Armour compounded at a pharmacy here in Perth 180mg a day and meltonin spray, hysone and melonotan II spray. Just have to do without the HGH until I win the lottery! Ha ha!

      • Denise says:

        Oh amitryptilline for nerve pain in my leg which I believe is also useful for fibromyalgia who I also have but to be honest can’t really see a difference with that although it does minimise my nerve pain(sciatic nerve is damaged after operation on my back). I know I know shoot me now!
        Dx

  5. brandys says:

    I will never forget the first thing my gynecologist asked me when he was got back my first blood tests diagnosing my overactive thyroid: “How’s your insurance?”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    This was almost 20 years ago, and even then he knew better than I did that insurance was going to be a primary factor in my care of this disease.

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