Frustration, And More Frustration

Carnival Cruise Lines Can Suck My Big Toe

So, the first thing that happened, and I’ll be writing more about this in the future, Carnival Cruise Lines decided that my bilateral massive multiple pulmonary embolisms and the both extremity cellulitis infection that left me with open wounds and abscesses on both legs was not ‘worthy’ of being given an exception for cruise reimbursement. We asked not for our money back on the cruise, but rather, we asked that they simply give us a credit for the cruise–for which they were, by one of their own employee’s admissions–able to rebook our cabin. We intended to use the credit on a future cruise, during which we would have spent more money than the credit we had with them. But Carnival Cruises decided we were not important enough as a customer to keep our business and held firmly to their ‘contracted’ agreement, and refused to refund or credit us any money in their special ‘consideration’ department.

Well, let me tell you what that means for me: I will never, EVER cruise with Carnival again. I also intend to make sure everyone I know hears just how ‘unvaluable’ Carnival thinks its customers are. We lost $2000 during a time when because of the health problems we could have really used that money and we never even asked for it back – we just wanted a credit so we could take a cruise at a later date when my wounds had healed and I had recovered some. I could have really used the vacation.

I hear Disney cruises out of Port Galveston too, as do Norwegian and one other line. When we’re ready to cruise later in the year, anyone but Carnival will get my business. If you plan on cruising, keep in mind Carnival will provide you with the best customer service as long as they are still trying to get your money. Once you’ve parted with your money though, they took weeks to even answer my request and then very blanketly denied the special consideration with absolutely zero explanation other than they didn’t want to honor our request, so sorry, buy trip insurance next time. Well, if anyone had offered us trip insurance, perhaps we would have.

If this matters to you at all, don’t cruise with Carnival. I’ve been told Disney offers a much better service anyway. I’ll be writing this review of how Carnival treated me on multiple sites. I want a wide audience to see how little their customers mean to them.

The Government Can Suck My Big Toe

So, the next thing to rant about is the government. I was qualified for a government funded insurance program, through Medicaid, to help pay for my medical bills. I sent in all the forms, filled out all the paperwork–and there was a mountain of it to be sure–and then was hospitalized at one point when a request for additional information came in. We were in contact with a caseworker both on our own and through the hospital and let them know we’d be a little bit late on some paperwork, because I was in the hospital. No big deal, we got approved for the program and we were approved for August, October, November, December, January, February and March. Wait a minute, where’s September? Oh, that just happens to be the month in which we had a $29,000 hospital bill and doctor’s bills in excess of $20k too. That month, yes, that one month, was denied. Something about not having a qualifying child. Gee, did my son disappear for the month of September?

To make matters worse, YESTERDAY I get a card in the mail saying my new insurance company through the state program is Amerigroup, and that my primary care provider is some doctor I have never heard of in Webster, Texas. Well, that’s news to me, ’cause I don’t live in Webster and my primary care doctor is at UTMB. Has been for months now. I know I filled out the form to have that doctor as my primary care and had selected United Health Care as my insurance carrier.

So why was I placed with Amerigroup and not with United? No one knows. But they say it’s because I never returned the forms to them.

Bullshit. I know I returned those forms. I filled them out, picked the primary care from the list and everything and I personally had Lynn drive me to the post office where I personally put them in the freaking mailbox. I said as such and the lady on the phone said, “Well, we tried to call you on December 30th and again this month. I asked if anyone had left me a message. She said, “We tried to call.” I said, “Yes, but did anyone leave me a message?” She said, “It’s your duty to call us and keep us informed.”

I said, “Wait a minute… It was my duty to fill out the form you sent me and select my primary care provider and insurance carrier. I did that. If you did not leave me a message, how was I supposed to know you needed me to call you? I did what I was supposed to do. Did you leave me a message?”

“We cannot, by law, leave you a message.”

“Then how I am supposed to call you back or even know that you needed me to call you? How?”

“It’s your duty to–”

“Oh, God!”

And I hung up on her.

That’s total and utter bullshit. I have no way of reading minds here. I’m supposed to just know that they wanted me to call them? I’m supposed to assume that the post office lost my paperwork or that it wasn’t sitting on some imbecile’s desk somewhere unprocessed and that they were going to put me in the wrong group?

But here’s the problem: I have an appointment tomorrow. I have pulmonary function testing next week. I have two other appointments the week after that and I am being treated for a condition that can kill me. Literally – not talking melodramatic here. This other doctor doesn’t know me or my case or history and is nothing more than a primary care physician who would have to refer me to someone else anyway, who cannot, as a specialist, get in in before my prescriptions run out! UTMB, my primary care doctors, does not accept Amerigroup insurance at all! I would have not known anything about this, except UTMB is upfront with me about things and they are on the ball and noticed today that it changed in the system to Amerigroup. They called me. I got my cards yesterday, on the 5th of February, and they were effective on the first of February!

Now, I can’t go to the doctor’s appointment tomorrow without paying full price, and the several thousands of dollars worth of pulmonary function testing won’t be covered…. sure, they can change me over to United, but it will take at least 30 days and perhaps as much as 50 days to do so, and my medical benefits on this program END on the last day or March!

So the pulmonary function testing I’ve been waiting to get since September will likely not happen… and without that, how do we continue treatment?

I’m in tears as I type this, because I don’t know what to do. I don’t qualify for Medicare yet. I can afford regular doctor’s visits, but I can’t afford the thousands of dollars for the pulmonary function testing, and if anything major happens to me again–like the legs that are already acting up again–and I need to go into the hospital, I’m not covered.

That terrifies me.

Reimbursement Would Be Nice

While on the phone with the state to try to figure out if there was anything we could do about all this, they discovered that all my medical bills that were sent in to them, in a packet, in the mail, on time like I was asked to send to them, plus the proof of payment we had made for all bills in August, September, and October (the back pay months) were scanned in, but no caseworker had DONE anything with them. We have been waiting all this time for reimbursement to the provider so we could get the provider to cut us a check for several thousands worth of dollars of medical bills, but though the bills and receipts had been scanned in, no one had worked the case to prepare them for reimbursement.

GLIMMER OF HOPE?

There is a small glimmer of hope. One of the employees finally with eligibility did go ahead and say there was no reason she could see why September excluded us. It said I didn’t have a qualifying child in September, but I’m pretty sure my son wasn’t any different in September than he was in August or October. She says they will, within five days, set that to pay and the bills that are outstanding can be submitted to them and they will go through.

So then, Lynn, who is handling much of this for me after I blew up and started ranting and bawling when the one lady made me hang up on her (yes, it was her fault I hung up on her, really, it was)…. she called the UTMB business office back and they were NOT working on my case like they said they were. They were about to turn over over $50,000 worth of unpaid bills to collections, even though we have and had been in contact with them about this the entire time!

So for now, they are apparently waiting five days to get a case date file something or another and will hold off for the time being.

In the meantime, we asked UTMB to use our financial counseling approval file to give us reduced rate office visits based on our income vs. our expenses for medical, that we were approved of just two days before the state approved me for medical, and suddenly, UTMB has no record of us having been approved for that program. But we can reapply. It only takes about 60 days to get a decision… Sigh.

In the meantime, I had to cancel my appointment tomorrow, an appointment that we made last week when I SHOULD have gone to the ER but instead grabbed an old prescription of antibiotics that was given to me the last time my leg messed up, trying to avoid the ER, and made the appointment, knowing if I could just see a doctor they would keep me out of the ER. My leg is still messed up. I’m running a fever again. I feel lousy. And I just want to curl up in a ball and cry.

It’s not fair.

It’s not right.

It sucks.

People are mean and sometimes stupid.

But I do want to thank the lady whose name starts with a J, but I won’t say it so I don’t get anyone in trouble. She was kind and seemed more than willing to want to help and spent over an hour and a half on the phone trying to do something and she got more done for us than anyone else. Some people, I am grateful for and the state could well use more people like that employee. Thank you to the universe for her kindness and caring concern.

NOW WHAT?

In the meantime, I don’t know what to do. I was so happy when the insurance was approved, and now, when I need it the most, it’s failing me. Where are people supposed to just come up with thousands of dollars at the drop of the hat? Is it fair that people who aren’t super independently wealthy and don’t have insurance are what… supposed to just die and be done with it?

I’ve come too far… I can’t have a setback like this now. I just can’t.

I don’t know if I believe it will do any good or not, but if you’ve got some good juju, I could use it. Prayers, thoughts, love, light, whatever you’ve got – I need to get this insurance stuff cleared up by next week, because I NEED these tests. I NEED them, and if I don’t get them before the end of March and paid for by the state insurance program, I will have to wait 60 days with no treatment before PCIP kicks in and then I will have to pay 20% of several thousands of dollars worth of tests, plus meet my deductible first. I need your help if you can put all the positive energy into this that you can.

It’s not right when I did what I was supposed to do that some minimum wage earning government employee–who probably has better insurance than I have–is able to make a mistake that might cost me my life.

Grrrr…..

Frustrated and stuff,
Michy

 

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16 comments to Frustration, And More Frustration

  • lafreed  says:

    Sending along all the prayers I can muster for you. This is beyond a nightmare and you certainly don’t need the additional stress.

  • Angela Parson Myers  says:

    What a lot of crap you’ve had to put up with. The hospital I go to has a foundation that helps to pay bills of people who, through no fault of their own, can’t pay. Is it possible the hospital you go to has a similar foundation?

    • Michy  says:

      Angela, they do have a program and we’re actually looking into it. They wanted so much extremely personal financial information the last time though it wasn’t worth it when I knew insurance would come through. If it comes down to it, we will definitely take advantage of that for emergencies. Unfortunately, it won’t help me get the pulmonary function tests done though (pout). That’s our focus right now, is not having to cancel those tests.

      UTMB is actually working with us though – and they told us not to cancel the appointment for the pulmonary testing until next week, and they are going to see if we might be able to bill out through Amerigroup for a one-time exception.

      : fingers crossed :

  • Angela Young  says:

    Praying. go to the top if you have to. do you know a lawyer that would help? good grief!

    • Michy  says:

      I don’t have a lawyer who can help with this, who is local… not even sure what type of lawyer might be able to help… plus the cost of hiring one is about the same as medical stuff. We did, however, call the state representative’s office and file a complaint against the Medicaid office for how all this was handled. They were and have been most helpful. We might need to call them again, though, and update with this new information.

      Thanks for the prayers… I’m off to a meeting with social security today. If it’s not one thing, it’s another!

  • Timothy Seal  says:

    Emmigrate to Australia. We don’t get any of that bullshit. We go to the doctor &, if need be, refered to a specialist & when required, hospitalised. Forms??? What forms. You sign on the medicare line & everythings taken care of, free. The American system sucks. I’d be bankrupt & dead if I was American. Thank god I’m not…

    • Michy  says:

      Timothy, I wasn’t aware it was that way in Australia. How wonderful for you! I know you have some issues to deal with, so it’s nice to know that you can get help when you need it.

      You’re right. If you were in American, you’d probably be dead now. Sadly, that happens to people. I’ve heard so many horror stories since I started this journey that I’ve wondered if maybe my purpose in this is to become a patient advocate or something. Some people DIE waiting to get in with the right doctor, or afford the right treatment. It’s crazy.

      There are many reasons why I am proud to be American, but our healthcare system is absolutely NOT one of them in the slightest.

  • Rissa Watkins  says:

    I thought of you today. I went to my BMT doc and she was worried about the swelling in my left leg. She was pretty sure it is the chemo meds, but wanted to rule out blood clots.

    I had an appt in 2 hours and they did the ultrasound. They told me right away they didn’t see any clots, but that the doc would be contacting me after she got the report. By the time I made it home I had a message. No clots no DVT.

    I am very happy about it but I got pissed. I thought of you and got really mad. You shouldn’t have to wait around for things like this. Yours is so much worse than mine and it isn’t fair and I am pissed. Hate that you have to jump through so many hoops.

    I wish you could come out here and pretend to be me and get all the care you need immediately.

    *hugs*

    As for Carnival- how did you pay? Maybe your credit card company will intercede and issue you a refund.

    • Michy  says:

      Rissa, we are definitely considering the credit card option of refund. I wanted to show the credit card company that we did everything we could to try to get Carnival to honor the refund or credit first. We never asked for a refund though. All we wanted was a credit for a future sailing.

      I’m very happy you didn’t have a DVT. They suck. I’ve had a couple of them now. The good news is, I have the IVC filter in, so I theoretically should not have any embolisms that could ‘kill’ me. If a clot forms and breaks through the filter, it should be small enough that it won’t kill me. It might still cause some problems, could cause breathing difficulty or even heart damage, but it shouldn’t be instant death either… so there’s that, at least.

      I get pissed too, you know? I do. I get sad sometimes as well. When I think about how many times I’ve done without, risked my life, been pushed to the side… because money is more important than health and life. I don’t get that thinking. Why did people become doctors? Was it a calling to a noble profession or was it status and financial gain?

      The good news is, my pulmonologists are amazing men, good doctors, and they ARE helping me, or at least, they are trying to help me, through all this mess. They are also not dumping me because of the insurance issues. So there is that.

      I did get some good news today about the mess… I’ll update later.

      Loves ya!

  • Bucket List  says:

    […] with the PAH, I can’t fly, so we’ll have to take cruises. Though rest assured, if Carnival Cruise Lines doesn’t get their act together, I surely won’t be cruising with […]

  • abbey granger  says:

    although i can acknowledge that loosing the opportunity to cruise is a bummer, the rules are set in place for a reason. i am a frequent cruiser, and i always buy the travel insurance incase anything happens or goes wrong. it is very inexpensive considering the amount of money you could loose, as you found out. it is typically about $90 per person. don’t bash carnival for following their own rules and policies, they provide resources for protecting your money. also, you acknowledge a cruise contract while booking and it says that there will be no refunds without the insurance. don’t slam a company just because you didn’t purchase the protection insurance and read the contract

  • Michy  says:

    I did read the contract, every last word of it. I’m a paralegal, and contracts are my area of specialty (at least, when I was working as one–I’m not any more), and the contract absolutely does NOT say there will be no refunds. It even says in the contract that there is a special considerations department specifically for extenuating circumstances and to contact them with your specific circumstances for a decision (which I did)–guess our contracts aren’t the same, or maybe you haven’t ever read yours all the way through? Also, the trip insurance was never offered to me. We booked through a travel agent who never offered it and the cruise line never offered it. So maybe you should get your facts before you accuse people of things. I honestly had no idea that ‘trip insurance’ existed until this experience.

    I still have no love for Carnival. Whether you are a frequent cruiser or not makes no difference to my experience. This wasn’t my fault and Carnival has no company morals. As a company, their concern is the money. They rebooked my cabin, and all I wanted was a credit for a future cruise where I would have spent more money anyway than the cost of the credit, and they were already getting the cabin fee from the people who booked it after me.

    It would have been win/win for them: they would have kept a loyal and happy customer whose only ability to travel for vacation is to cruise (can’t travel in cars long distances and can’t travel on a plane at all due to the PAH), so cruising is perfect for me and since I live in a city where there’s a port, we planned to go regularly–we still do, but not with Carnival.

    I will never give them another penny of my money, ever.

    But as I looked for others who had experienced my situation, I found this is quite common. A soldier who had planned a vacation for his 20th wedding anniversary whose tour was extended and he had to reschedule lost 3200 bucks. A woman whose husband died two days before cruising didn’t even get her deposit back and she had to fight to get back the taxes they are legally required to give her. The people on the Concordia who are being charged for their credit card drinks and other charges–including the families of the people who died!

    So my opinion is my own due to how I was treated, and you can say I’m justified or not, and that’s your opinion–but I am NOT ‘slamming’ Carnival. They did this to themselves. I’m merely stating the facts as to what happened in my case and how I feel about it. My attorney and I are talking and I haven’t decided if we’re going to take this to court or not, so there’s a lot more here than meets the eye. Carnival was wrong, plain and simple, and now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do about it.

    But regardless of what I choose, one thing is sure: I won’t ever spend another penny with Carnival. Three other cruise lines come out of Port Galveston, and they will get a chance to win my ongoing business… that’s how it goes. You want customers happy, you treat customers right. Let’s see if the other companies can do any better. That’s one of the things that makes America great–I get to choose. Good news, so do you.

    Love and stuff,
    Michy

    • abbey granger  says:

      may i ask when you tried to cruise? because the contracts may have changed. because in mine, the travel insurance is in bold lettering. also, part of the situation could be that it was booked through a travel agent. while there are wonderful travel agents out there, i have come across my share of idiots as well. i book my cruises directly through the cruise line, because 99% of the time its cheaper. also, is your attorney recommending a law suit? because it would be a huge battle going up against a company as large as carnival

      • Michy  says:

        It was earlier last year. To make it clear why we asked for special circumstances through their special considerations department: We booked it over a year ago, and had been waiting to go… then the embolisms hit me in August and again in November, was hospitalized several times, but the last time, I was in the hospital in December, and the cruise was set for March. We were originally going to try to make the cruise anyway, figuring I could sit on the deck and do nothing if I had to. In the hospital, though, I was put on oxygen replacement 24/7 (something I am still on today), and Carnival said when we contacted them in December that they didn’t have TIME to make accommodations for oxygen tanks by March (we had apparently missed the special disabilities form that had to be filled out in advance-but I didn’t NEED it then, and my circumstances changed with the hospitalization) and that my oxygen concentrator could be brought aboard, but had to be sent beforehand and taken to the room by them to wait for me there–well, I can’t go without the oxygen concentrator to ship it to them to have it put in the room for me, and I can’t afford to buy or rent two (they are $250 per month to rent one, so…)

        So there’s a bit more to this than just that I was put in the hospital and decided I didn’t WANT to go. I also had open sores on my legs from the circulation issues with the embolisms, so I wouldn’t have been able to use the therapy pool, and we had rented one of the Cloud9 Spa cabins, with direct spa access–which was now a total waste of money for me, but…

        … my attorney is not necessarily recommending anything one way or another. He said he’d be willing to take it on if I feel I want to proceed that way.

        My biggest issue is that they did not accommodate my disability needs, and that it shouldn’t matter that it shouldn’t matter that the disability forms weren’t filled out ‘in time’, because there wasn’t time. I requested the accommodations as soon as I knew I was needing them, and they couldn’t met the accommodations, so they should have given me a refund or credit for the cruise. And the attorney says we have an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint.

        To also be clear: I never asked for a refund. I asked for a credit for a future cruise, minus the deposit and we were willing to book that future cruise right then and pay the difference right then when we booked it–they would have made MORE money from me, especially considering that they had already re-booked our cabin. It was just a poor business decision on their part–they lost, I lost, and that’s not good business.

        I couldn’t even get someone on the phone to tell me in person they weren’t going to give me a credit–they EMAILED me a short, three sentence email, stating they had refused my special circumstances request and they knew I “would understand…”, and then I got voice mails…Sorry, I don’t understand.

        So I contacted my attorney and asked him what to do. And we’re exploring options at this point.

        I’m not sure what Carnival could do now to make this better… as for the travel agent, I won’t use one again, but I have to give him props. He at least tried to deal with them on our behalf for a time, and we managed to get back the taxes on the trip and a percentage of a refund – credited back to a credit card that didn’t exist anymore, instead of sending the money to us, even though it had been a year since we had paid (and they never asked where or how to send that money), and now we’re fighting with the credit card company to get the money sent to that card. Carnival still got $3000 bucks from us, and now the credit card company has almost $800… I think we’ve gotten that straightened out though.

        It’s been a huge mess, a huge aggravation, again, at a time, when we surely didn’t need it and I think these big companies need to realize that while they are huge and corporate and anonymous, we are still human beings, and we should be treated with humanity and compassion and morality when they deal with us – and that they should at least DEAL with us and not just toss us aside to a voice mail and keep our money without truly giving us any real consideration.

        So yeah, I’m a little touchy about it.. and I apologize to you about my tone in the previous comment. I’m understanding what you’re saying about the contracts and about their rules and I realize that if every person in the world who ever cruised asked for special consideration–and it’s possible that I’m selfishly thinking my situation is ‘special’, when it may not be to anyone but me–but I don’t think people get hospitalized with massive multiple pulmonary embolisms that radically change their life and health literally overnight… that doesn’t happen every day. But I guess lots of folks think their situation is special too. We’re human. That’s how it goes. And yet, we still tried to make the cruise with all the changes, and it was Carnival who couldn’t accommodate us.

        Okay… enough ranting now. Sorry, but thanks for listening… guess I’m just still really bummed about this, more than I realized. This cruise was very special to me, and I still get teary thinking about how we missed it, and how much I had been looking forward to it.

        Love and stuff,
        Michy

  • abbey granger  says:

    Like I said before, I understand your frustrations, but it is just hard for me to imagine that they did not offer you trip insurance. Everyone may experience different situations, but out of all my cruising ventures, I go with Carnival probably 80% of the time. For years, even when I used travel agents, they always, always, always, offered me travel insurance. Sounds like your travel agent didn’t do his job very well, and I would have gone to his/her boss about the issue, because its part of his job to offer that service, incase situations like you had arise. From now on when you cruise I hope you take advantage of this service. I actually had to reschedule a cruise three years ago when my father passed away, having the insurance made things really simple and after the funeral was over and things settled down, I called them back and rescheduled without any hassle. Like I said, I’m sorry you missed out on the experience, I hope you protect yourself and your money for future situations. Thanks for listening, I am off to read through the rest of your blogs, this one caught my eye and it is all I have focused on here as of late.

    • Michy  says:

      Definitely, rest assured now that I know it exists — and it seems like a neat thing too, so I’m glad I know about it now — I will definitely (especially with my health) take advantage of it.

      And I might actually do what you’re saying–talk to the travel agent’s boss, because he didn’t offer it to me and Carnival wouldn’t even talk to me at first at all because we had booked through the agent. They insisted at first we had to talk to the agent. Then they changed their minds later and talked to me, since the agent had never dealt with the disability issues I was asking about.

      I’m sorry about your father and your trip… may he rest peacefully and I’m glad you were able to reschedule.

      Mostly, I’m just still sad and angry about it. I will eventually calm down and move forward, but I still plan on giving my business to another cruise line and giving them a chance to show up Carnival. I wish Disney had more Galveston cruises. I hear they have a great all-inclusive package.

      If you’re ever cruising out of Galveston, holler at me! There’s some great eating on the pier there, my treat for being so pissy to you in my response (may not look like it, but it’s really kind of out of character for me!)

      Happy sailing!

      Love and stuff,
      Michy

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