Health insurance.  It’s a hot topic these days. Very hot.

I am fortunate to have comprehensive coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield.  True to form, there is a rate hike every October.

This year’s premium increase was over 30% which really put a serious dent in my budget.

So, like any good healthcare consumer, I started considering options. And gathering information.  In the process, among other things, I learned that I had been misquoted the actual amount of the increase and in fact it was roughly a 15% increase.  Considering the amount of the premium was already expensive without any increase, I continued my comparison.

Little did I know that at the end of the day, despite what the numbers told me,  I’d value my peace of mind over the potential savings I could have with a catastrophic policy and a Health Savings Account. I bit the bullet and ended up, at the last minute, keeping my comprehensive coverage.

Perhaps I channel Ralph Nader because, at my core, I am a huge consumer advocate. I can’t stand even the possibility of being ripped off about anything when it comes to money.

If I get poor service, I’m discussing it with the employee first and then the manager.  If I see an unwarranted charge on my credit card bill, I’ll be calling them to inquire.

I had to pay almost $500 to apply for the high deductible insurance while I was considering whether to make a change back in August.  Thank God I charged it to my credit card.

I’ve called Blue Cross Blue Shield 4 times and requested a refund.  Each time, I’ve been put on hold, transferred, and been told that it would be “ten business days” and then the check would be “processed.”  It is now November and . . . no check.

So, what’s a healthcare consumer to do? While talking to my friend today, I realized what many consumers do.  Give up.  Because it’s too much of a hassle.

Feeling angry, irritated and frustrated when the system doesn’t work the way it should is totally understandable.

If things worked the way they should, Blue Cross would have refunded my money without me calling in the first place.

Certainly, by the 4th time I should have my check in hand.

The insurance company is not being malicious; they’re a bureaucracy and they’re inefficient. It’s not personal.

Nonetheless, whether it’s five bucks or $500, I needed to get it back.   Since I had paid for this with a credit card, I simply called the credit card company and filed a dispute.  The charge was immediately credited back to me.  Problem solved.

What I also realized today is yet another reason why I’m offering the course Your Health Your Way. This is a class for people struggling with chronic pain, depression or anxiety to help them manage their lives moment to moment.

Frustrating experiences with merchants are just one of the many stressors that can be part of an average day. These experiences can be overwhelming and understandably cause many people (including me) to either ignore them or feel victimized.

It is these very moments which the healthcare system cannot address which often wreak havoc in our lives, increasing our physical or mental pain.

Chronic pain, anxiety and depression often carry such stigma with them that no one really wants to acknowledge them.  Instead we suffer in silence.

If you are one of those silent sufferers, I offer you hope, respect and practical support. Consider joining me – you can participate as much or as little as you like.

Many friends and family members feel frustrated and helpless as they watch a loved one suffer with the crippling effects of these conditions.  I’ve often heard others say how they wish they could “fix it” and how hard it is to see someone suffer.

I’ve been on both sides of this.  I’ve been the person suffering with chronic pain, anxiety and depression.  I’ve also watched others I care about struggle with it.

At the end of the day, we can’t take away each other’s pain. But, we can offer a listening ear, a hug, a supportive resource.

My class will help your loved one find tools that they can use to manage their health in a way that works for them.

I invite you to consider sharing Your Health Your Way with your loved one to see what they think of it.  You may be surprised by their response.

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