It seems that several times a month my so-called Health Maintenance Organization Blue Cross/Blue Shield finds a reason to send me a document they call an Explanation of Benefits.
I don’t think I am a total and complete moron. I can read and write; I have two Masters Degrees; I have to my credit one or two other intellectual accomplishments that require a certain level of cognitive functioning. But I cannot for the life of me decipher the Explanation of Benefits, and not for want of good faith effort. You see, many “providers” and all insurers will fuck you at every turn if you let them — that’s my philosophy — so I really want to know what they are trying to tell me, and I can’t figure it out. Perhaps the oddest thing they do is tell you that you both do and do not owe the provider $228.73. Which is it?
Sure, you can call Blue Cross/Blue Shield during regular business hours and navigate the voice mail tree, eventually coming to a recorded disclaimer that tells you — with breathtaking chutzpah — that whatever the human “customer service” drone is about to tell you may be a lie. That pretty much goes without saying these days, doesn’t it?
Finally you start to question your assumptions. They call it an Explanation but you can’t understand it despite your best efforts. Perhaps it’s not really intended as an explanation at all! And the typical purpose of this non-bill is to tell you how much they will not pay — quite the opposite of Benefits. The very name of this document, Explanation of Benefits, is a lie. The only honest part is the preposition “of.” Let’s strike Explanation in favor of Obfuscation, and… let’s see, what’s the opposite of benefit? Harm, calamity, misfortune, infliction, detriment… I think I will call it an Obfuscation of Detriments until I come up with something better.