“I’m sorry. That is one of the items excluded by your policy.”
In case this statement is not clear, the customer service rep then reads a list of all of the various kinds of speech generating devices that my insurance plan does not cover.
I end the call and burst into tears.
Yesterday had been a great day. Philip had an evaluation for an augmentative communication device. Having decided that he is reaching the limits of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), Philip’s speech therapist had arranged for a vendor to test an electronic device that will give Philip access to thousands of words. My mom and I observed the evaluation and were delighted to see how quickly Philip picked up on what to do.
I had left the session hopeful. Not only was I excited by the possibilities of the device itself, I was hopeful that we might have found a way to pay for one. We don’t qualify for Medicaid and one of the other state programs does not provide assistance for anything related to autism. I went into the evaluation thinking, “Well, this would be nice, but how are we going to pay for it?” That’s when the vendor told me that many insurance companies will cover the item as durable medical equipment. She provided the billing code so that I could phone to verify coverage.
When I finally called during my lunch break today, I was impressed by how quickly I was connected to live human being. Feeling optimistic, I didn’t mind being put on hold while the agent pulled up my records and searched for the code. Then she came back on the line with the bad news.
“It’s not that we never cover this type of item, but your employer has opted to exclude it from your particular policy.”
I barely kept it together while thanking her for the information and saying goodbye.
I sobbed, saddened and frustrated that I might not be able to provide this tool for Philip.
I can’t call Peter, I thought. Even though he had anticipated this outcome, I just didn’t have the heart to tell him. He’s still so worried about the lead poisoning, I worry that he can’t take any more bad news.
I took a deep breath and dialed another number. My best friend.
Thank you for listening to me through my tears. Thank you for sharing in my frustration and disappointment. Thank you for talking me through other options. Thank you for offering to help in any way you can. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Thank you for helping me pull myself together so I could go back to work.
While I may be saying thank you for today, please know I appreciate all of the other times I’ve been able to call you to cry, to celebrate, to laugh, to philosophize.
I only hope that I have been as loyal a friend to you as you have been to me.