Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Class action

One feels so very proletarian when one finds unexpected settlement letters in the mail. One thing electronic communication hasn't been able to replace are personal legal notices. Yes, certain ones can be published in a "daily record" sort of thing, and even those have been proposed (perhaps won and done) to be moved to Web sites; it's cheaper for the counties, a missed market for the "dead tree media."

"You're being served" just isn't the same if it's an Evite.

Settlements from class action lawsuits are not entirely unexpected. There is always a preliminary letter from the attorneys. Clishé: they seem to be the real winners, the ones who actually receive non-negligible chunks of the millions — we pay them a lot to prove a point / to record that a company admits wrongdoing. The letter gives you the option to sign away your rights to the suit. I do not know the expediency of doing that.

The first such suit I happened to be classed with was the case brought against the University of Missouri. Someone proved that the way the state law or the school's charter was written, tuition could not be charged. Yes, now they simply charge "educational fees," or perhaps they have changed the law. I can't recall, and I'm not going to look it up — this is first-hand testimony from a slightly respected (and never intentionally misleading / almost always accurate / always admitting known mistakes) writer.

I never was able to realize those benefits, as the settlement only paid out in $500 increments to students from a certain era (we were there in the '90s) and who were enrolling in the public Missouri universities again. One could extend the benefit to family, but one also had to apply for the money as for any other scholarship.

Apparently, they have already run through the $50 million or whatever. I checked when I got back into grad school last semester. It didn't take long, did it? It was gone long before the statue of limitations.

Presently, I'm now "due" $3.50 for every month I was self-insured through a particular organization, between 1997 and April 8, 2008. I don't know what the suit is about. It's unclear, but I have a good 42 months in.

Wow, the meaning of life, the universe and everything is my health insurance.

Yes, that same company is telling me again at annual-renewal-point-October: "We periodically review the trends in escalating health-care costs, the increasing use of medical services, and other factors. In doing so, we have determined that we will need to adjust your health insurance premium rate."

So meaningful!

Never mind that I haven't cost them a dime in years. The woman is rarely ill. She has fine cholesterol and LDL levels, fine BP, and likely will die of cancer or heart disease, according to family history. But whatever … just one, very old "pre-existing condition," whose origin is unknown and untraceable and whose outcome is "gone for nearly a decade," so take a hike, premium-metrics — it's not the kind of thing that comes back or will ever cost anything in any way!

[You know how they ask you when you sign up whether you smoke — and it's a big deal? What if you start later and never mention it or go to the doc? I'm not self-reporting! I do not smoke or use other tobacco products. I eat broccoli, so bug off.]

Anyway, the 147 bucks that is my "settlement" is pretty much my new monthly rate, up from $123 only six months ago (it seems. She's too lazy to retrieve checking records right now. Even so, if it's every year and all I've done personally is age, well, do some percentage-of-increase math and tell me how things will be when I'm menopausal in __ years.)

But wait, there's more! The maximum settlement is just $21!

Great, let me go buy a bottle of whiskey and call it good.

My current deductible is $2,500 individual, but "co-insurance" is 80% of 10 grand. Max annual out-of-pocket (like there's anything IN the pocket) is $4,500. Yup, that's more than I could bear right now. Shiny, happy, Visa card …

Forgot to mention: I have no co-pay: I pay the WHOLE doctor visit bill (which they run through the game system and adjust depending on what insurance one has).

OH, and the best part is that, should I wish to reduce my premium, my only "options" now are to take on something that has a $5,000 annual deductible across the board, with an annual max payout of $7,000.

(May I curse now?)

All I want is new contacts. Vision is not covered in this plan. I bet I could guess what my prescription should be. Would that one could just order online and be done with it. Yes, yes, doctors are important, and I'm not looking to put anyone out of business, but my issue is merely computers, no diagnosis required. Only this and nothing more.

And Lenore is quite weary of hearing of Annabel Lee.


m.v. said...

when UMKC changed tuition to educational fees I got screwed because my work paid for tuition but didn't cover the fees. I went all the way up to UMKC's president and to VP of HR at my company trying to prove the point that it was the same thing. Next semester I just forgot to mention fees and attached a total amount instead of invoice and the problem went away. Now the retards actually try to call me and ask for donations. Good luck.

DKC said...

Picture self with giant screw in back. Excellent illustration. I recommend watching the Republican National Convention. It will serve to make you feel all fuzzy and warm about your wounds.