the “paperwork”

The “paperwork” side of dealing with having a kid who had cancer is still a HUGE challenge.

Our girl is at a day camp this week learning about 3D printing. So I decided to work my way through the rest of the current bills from the hospital and clear off the folding table I’d been sorting on in the living room. (things don’t feel very normal with an extra table of papers in the middle of the relaxing area of the house).

So, I’m making progress, checking things off, getting bills into the “all done, just file” pile and then the challenge arises.

It’s been inconvenient all along that for most appointments we get bills from 2 different places. There’s the “medical center” and the “physicians” One of those showed the details online and we could easily compare those statements to our insurance statement and click to pay. The other didn’t do it online like that -they’d sent paper statements (the November appointment didn’t come until February, so our FSA can’t be used to pay it because it’s this year’s funds and that was last year’s treatment -another whole issue), and then in addition to the paper statements I occasionally get an email that says “Your eBill is ready!” The interesting part about this is that it instructs me to go to a website and enter an account number. Then the site asks for the patient’s birthday -for many months we had 2 patients getting treated at the same place, so I had to guess which patient had a bill.

So, if you’ve wondered how in the world we end up with a pile instead of just handling our mail when it arrives, well, that’s part of it. The picture is never clear. The statements aren’t detailed and I have no idea how many will be coming from each time we walk in the doors.

Back to today, I’m looking at this one that happened in November, got processed in February, and got to us in March (yes, I’m a bit behind -but they took 3 months to do their part, so my 3 months since receiving it is right in line with their schedule). The amount billed for hospital service doesn’t match my insurance EOB, so I go to the patient portal to try to see if I can figure out why. Surprise! The patient portal isn’t the same. I need a new account. Anything that happened before June 3rd should be at this other link. That link just gives an error.

My morning of getting through all of this is interrupted. I’m a bit stumped. Do, I just pay these 2 mystery bills and hope it was right? Do I try to call and ask for details? Do I just set them aside and deal with them whenever I try to tackle this later? I don’t know yet. I do know that I’m frustrated, mad, and crying.

See, if they had notified us that the old portal would be going away I could have done all this sooner while I still had access to the info. That portal included notes from every appointment and scan since the beginning of Joanna’s cancer journey at the JEC. Those notes, appointment dates, charges, reports of imaging have just disappeared.

There’s so much we have no control over in this cancer journey. But, until today we could look back at notes and confirm what had happened. We could recreate a timeline of visits, we could see what the radiologist reported when they read the scans. All of that lived on the site that we could log into just about anytime. That was stripped away with no notice.

In my mind the organization could have sent notifications that this was coming, so we could prepare. I could have downloaded some things so that I’d have them available to refer back to. I really shouldn’t be surprised, as communication from them hasn’t been stellar in the past. Just like when they didn’t give advance notice that our 9 year old daughter would need to give a urine sample for a pregnancy test before getting chemo all of a sudden one week, our reactions are likely over the top, exaggerated -well, that’s not an unusual response to trauma, and going through cancer is it’s own type of trauma.

Feeling like those who have taken on the task with helping you heal continue to drop the ball in ways that should be easy for them, but end up being hurtful is just hurtful. It doesn’t help that I know this shouldn’t be a big deal. I know I’ll get over it, but in this moment, on this day that I thought I’d finish a task and get my living room back, things just aren’t ok. I’m thankful I have a few hours to pull it together before picking her to see her new 3D creation and she doesn’t have to know all this happened. well, at least not until she reads this post 🙂


  1. Praying for you and the chaos that is the medical billing system. I pray you find the answers and help you need.

  2. Precious Jessica, I think your frustrations and feelings are all valid. I am sorry you must deal with all this paperwork that can be extremely confusing for even a highly intelligent and capable person like you. You go ahead and embrace those feelings for a bit. Then you will rise up ready to do battle again with the insanity of medical billing and insurance reimbursement. You are loved.

  3. Peace i leave you. Peace that passes all understanding. Peace in the face of anything that steals it. The thief comes to destroy…. He has come to give you life, abundantly. I feel this post. The paperwork side to medical- cancer or other can feel like adding insult to injury. But i pray you will have peace.

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