December 10, 2010
Oh, What a DAY!
How do I even start? Well, there's a word here that gets used a whole lot, and means a fight, a struggle, a battle of sorts. It's pronounced LOO-cha (written "lucha"). If you ask a Paraguayan how they're doing--or the equivalent of What's up?--they'll usually say that life is always a "lucha." I used to grimace every time I heard that phrase, thinking how sad it was that they saw life through a negative lens. I have to tell you that the longer we live here, the more I understand why they say it. There are certain things that shouldn't be, but are, a lucha.
Last night, I dreamed we drove through heavy rains that were fierce but only lasted a little time. We were on a road by the ocean, and it cleared up so that we could see the storm out over the water but no longer over us. We stopped in my dream to take pictures of the storm because there was such a contrast between the darkness over the ocean and the clear sky where we were.
This morning in real life, we left Carapegua for the capital, knowing that the day would be full of running errands to prepare for the hospital stay next week. Well, about half-way to Asuncion the bottom dropped out of the sky. We drove through some serious downpours, taking side roads once we got there because the main roads all looked like rivers. This is when streets made of cobblestone in uneven piles come in very handy! All the normally paved ones were too deep to cross, as evidenced by the cars we kept passing stalled out, with water over their tires. I prayed a lot, thanking God for His hand of protection on us. We finally got to a place we could just pull over and wait the rest of it out.
When we arrived at the first appointment, with the insurance company, things got even crazier. Let me prelude this by saying that we'd already turned in our paperwork last weekend to them and were told that we could pick it up Tuesday. We showed up Tuesday morning to find that they'd gotten all our information wrong. This was first apparent when they said that Ken wasn't covered for surgery. We knew that he should be according to his policy, so we dug around to find out that they'd put the wrong category for his level of coverage. The employee made the adjustment and came back to say that they still weren't covering it because there is a six-month waiting period. I explained that we'd passed that already, but he didn't believe me.
Thankfully, this is not my first experience with the system here, and I know that one must be prepared for WHATEVER in Paraguay. So I proceeded to take out my paperwork and show him that not only was Ken covered, but I showed him the exact date we bought the policy, and the receipts for our monthly payments since. He admitted their error again and said it would take a little while to redo the paperwork--"Just come back when we call you in a few hours." I left my phone number with the assurance that someone would call us that day. We never heard back from them, so showed up that afternoon in person anyway, to be told that the papers still weren't ready. No big surprise. He assured me that they would get it all straightened out, but that it would be Thursday evening, since Wednesday was a national holiday for the annual pilgrimage to the Holy City. Okay.
We'd been making so many 4-hr round trips to Asuncion this past week since our arrival, that we decided to combine the insurance trip with the pick-up-Ken's-bloodwork-results-and-appointment-with-the-surgeon visit we'd have to make today, Friday. I had a stinking feeling we should have made that special trip Thursday evening just for the insurance papers, but I kinda doubted they'd be ready anyway and didn't want to be on the road again for nothing.
Fast forward to today, after the rain, and they present me with the exact same paperwork we saw Tuesday, bottom line--no coverage. I went through the same two errors as before, each time the employee walking away for "just a second" to clear it up, coming back with the next reason they didn't want to pay. When the dates and the coverage were verified (again), they stated that this heart thing was probably something Ken was born with, meaning it was a pre-existing congenital defect that he probably knew about all his life. We agreed that it could have been a birth defect, but told them that we had only found out recently. I presented Ken's last "clean bill of health" that came from a required exam by a doctor in Paraguay, when we were applying for citizenship. I also asked to speak to the boss.
The boss explained to me that it really didn't matter if we just found out or whether we'd known for years and been waiting for our arrival in Paraguay to have the surgery, the fact that it had EXISTED before his coverage classified it as pre-existing and they wouldn't cover pre-existing. I promptly showed her the contract that said they WOULD, in fact, cover pre-existing conditions after the six-month wait. "When you are accepted by Asis-Med, your pre-existing conditions are covered after 6 months wait."
We went round and round, and I found out that she was not quite The Boss, since she had to keep leaving to make calls to someone "in a meeting" (are the folks with the power to fix the problem ALWAYS in a meeting, or is that just here in Paraguay?) Once, she came back with a letter addressed to us, in which the insurance company decided they no longer wanted Ken to be their client, and they were officially dissolving the relationship and did not have to have "just cause" to do so.
At this point (in all the waiting for her to talk to the "boss"), I had read the policy manual up and down, in and out. So I pointed out to her that yes, they do have the policy to dissolve the relationship, but they must give us 15 days notice. Since the surgery is in 3 days, and he's only set for a one-week stay, that should work out just fine, right? Well, no. Despite that I showed her in her own manual that they have to give us 15-days notice, she just flat out said that they would NOT cover most of the expenses. Thankfully, they already agreed to the basic stuff like a room, and we ARE in Paraguay. So the amount we are looking at is not nearly as shocking as it could add up to in the United States. If there are no complications, we're looking at $5,000. But the injustice of paying for a policy and then finding you don't have coverage just because they don't want to uphold their end of it just sits bad with me.
I tend to think too hard on these things, like is God spanking us for something? Have we ripped someone off and now we're gonna reap what we sowed? Have I not read enough chapters this week in the Bible? Should I have given $11 instead of $10 in that last offering? Am I the only one that thinks God is standing up there doling out swift punishments if we accidentally do something wrong? I know in my heart it isn't that way, but days like this, my heart has to have constant conversations with my head.
I am reminding myself that in the dream last night, we drove THROUGH a storm and once on the other side, stopped to look at it from afar and snap photos. I'll charge the batteries in my "camera" and wait till God walks us through this one, but we'll take any prayers/advice you would offer up. Hope your day was a lot less stormy than ours.