As a child I had a picture of heaven as a place of eternal peace. I’m sure this came from my father, who, though angry and embattled while he was on this earth with the rest of us, is living in such a place now. My child’s image of heaven was of old enemies meeting on a cloud, embracing and laughing off their old, earthbound enmity. Their old reasons for hating each other now delicious jokes to be shared and laughed about together in the ever-after.
I was reminded of this today, when I had a wake up call from Elaine at Healthfirst, the health insurance company that has done so much to impersonally fuck me over lately. Apparently my DFS complaint, which I had attempted to revoke by email on Tuesday, had been quickly assigned to an investigator who contacted Healthfirst. Good to know that process still works so quickly, anyway.
The last time Elaine and I spoke, things had not gone well. I had asked her pointedly several times if she was drunk. I eventually hung up on her after one too many incoherent, drunk-sounding answers from the Resolution Specialist. That was back on March 7, I think, the last, and ugliest, of several long conversations we had.
She began our conversation cautiously, as you might imagine. I immediately informed her that I’d contacted DFS to retract the complaint (I believed I had finally successfully done that last night on their website). I told her that this time Healthfirst was not to blame for the termination of my health insurance. I told her I wished Healthfirst had contacted me on March 11, when they were informed that they needed to terminate my insurance effective March 31. I could have prevented the cancellation of my health insurance if I’d had a heads up from them in time to stay insured.
She explained that the March 11 notice Healthfirst got contained the same claim my on-line, inbox-posted version had — that I’d received two notices to remedy my easily fixable error, one the day after I re-enrolled and the March 11 notice I was never notified of. Healthfirst was in the same boat as I was, it seemed. No other notice had been sent to anyone, I never got the March 11 notice in any form, until after my insurance was terminated and it was too late to do anything about it. Unlike Healthfirst, only I had had my health insurance interrupted for a month during a plague, but that wasn’t Healthfirst’s fault.
The odd thing is how gentle our conversation was. I had no animus toward poor Elaine, a native Russian speaker doing her best in a difficult language. Her promised written summaries had been the best she could do, subject to redactions from “regulatory”, I grasped that now. It was not her fault that NYS does not provide consumers with the laws that protect them from, for example, termination of health insurance without notice.
“Did you call the New York State of Health?” Elaine asked sympathetically. I explained to her that on a good day one cannot easily get through on the phone, during the pandemic wait times are much longer. The reps one eventually speaks to there are as limited in their knowledge and their power to help as the ones at Healthfirst, they cannot see the entire picture or explain difficult things that are difficult, or even impossible, to explain. She seemed to understand this. I told her I’d found and fixed the mistake easily on-line. If only I’d had notice to do it sooner!
Thinking about the surprisingly pleasant call afterwards (she’d been palpably relived to get no fight from me), and how we wished each other well, and spoke for the first time without defensiveness or anger on either side, two humans in very similar little boats, I was reminded of my childish view of heaven. From the minds of children…