Willkommen, bienvenue, and welcome to the horrorshow that is my neverending battle with Universal Diagnostic Testing, LLC. Ladies, I’d rather babysit Chucky and Rosemary’s Baby than follow the pained trajectory of the last eleven months, but would that make for a good story? Clearly not. Hence, the blog.
It all started with a fateful conversation with my loving (some might say too concerned) parents indicating that during vacation visits I tended to stop breathing when I slept. Stop breathing. Completely. Like I would stop breathing, and then start again, gasping for air like a drunken sailor thrown overboard after a night of hot toddies. This caused them considerable concern, and I promised them that I would contact my primary care provider about the situation to determine whether or not asphyxiation was a medical condition.
Turns out, it is.
My doctor, who I must say is incredible and awesome 99.9% of the time, referred me to a sleep specialist center for further evaluation. Med One Medical. In Sandy. For those of you unfamiliar with the Salt Lake environment, Sandy is to Salt Lake as is Dallas to Montpelier. The towns are beyond far apart, connected by the equivalent of the Jersey Turnpike on Thanksgiving. Road conditions are unpredictable, the service… We’ll cross that bridge shortly.
Needless to say, I was optimistic about solving a problem I was heretofore unaware of, what with it occurring when I was unconscious. I went in, had them strap what can only be described as a SCUBA diving system’s country cousin to my face, and laid down for a second. A second that turned into 15 minutes of pure sleep ecstasy. When the nurse/medical assistant came and shook me awake, I thought I was peering into the face of Jesus Christ. I hadn’t realized that my sleep apnea (a condition I was born with, apparently, compounded in severity by my poor eating habits and allergy to exercise) was the reason that no matter how many hours of sleep, no matter the number of Ambiens I popped or Tom Collins I chugged down, that my sleep wasn’t restful because my system was too busy keeping me alive to process toxins and rock the REM time.
In a word, it was glorious. For two blessed weeks, I slept like a sweet baby, looking forward to hours of peaceful rest not preceded by a fifth of Svedka or six tablets of Unisom. It was a miracle, an incredibly awkward and truly unflattering in the Sexy Department miracle.
And then, the medical profession reared its more prototypical, “I’m going to fix you until I break you worse” mentality. The CPAP machine was replaced by a BiPAP, for my benefit, because the real doctors, people I would later find out were contracted and not actually affiliated with the Sandy location, determined from my patterns that I needed a more complex, cumbersome, and expensive sleep device. Numerous sleep studies were conducted. None of them worked. People I didn’t know, nor do I care to know, watched me while I slept. Flashback to Sleeping with the Enemy. My shit-tastic insurance didn’t cover any specialty care, and my frequent visits to no-man’s land started to concern me. The “calibrations” done by the cross-eyed sleep techs left much to be desired.
I’m not what one would consider solidly middle class. I get by. I work for a non-profit that provides health care for the homeless, health care that I would kill for in terms of its comprehensiveness and focus on quality and continuity of care. That being said, I called the sadists at “Med One” asking about my bill, hoping to set up some sort of payment plan or to determine the going rate for a 65% healthy kidney on the black market. Tragic foreshadowing.
The girl who answered said not to worry about billing. It was an issue for them and insurance to decide, she said. I would get a bill, if any, in the mail shortly, she said. In July, she said. Fast forward to this week, after battling Mother Nature to even get to Utah to open my mail, I receive a letter. No, not a letter. A notice.
A notice that informs me that not only do I owe “Universal Diagnostic Testing”, the company that was once Med One Medical, which was forced to restructure because they were a poorly run business, two THOUSAND dollars, but that, get this, I am past due and if I don’t pay up immediately, they will send me to a collection agent.
Let’s do a quick review, shall we?
- I have never received a bill or invoice from Med One Medical or their shady new business Universal Diagnostic Testing, LLC.
- I have never, in my life, shirked a bill, and have been late on a payment one time. In 11,323 days on this Earth, I have paid any and all billls sent to me in a timely fashion.
- Threats to my credit history are equal to and/or on par with threats to my credibility, integrity, and honor as a queer man.
Needless to say, I made some calls. Angry calls. I wanted to feel sorry for whoever answered the phone, but you know what, I didn’t. Mostly because they worked at a shady business, but more importantly, that they worked in the billing department, the very area that completely failed in this enterprise. So I called. And called. Until Alta answered.
Yes, her name was Alta.
I told Alta that I was calling in regards to a nasty notice I received after not receiving any bills or invoices to my address, and that I was calling to pay the bill in full. I reiterated that I had never received any bills, which was interesting in that the “final notice” was sent to my home address, which meant they had that address in the system if they had so wished to send me an actual bill prior to threatening to ruin my credit. I reminded Alta that they also had my phone number on file, should they have wished for payment and could have called me, and that, if their file clerk was dyscalculic (e.g., dyslexic with numbers) they could have also contacted my primary care provider for information that would assist them in sucking me dry for services that did not alleviate the problem of me suffocating on a daily basis. I also inquired as to whether any additional new surprises awaited me in the mail moving forward.
After a sigh and long pause, my phone-a-friend informed me of the outstanding charges, asked me if I wanted to pay them which would be hilarious considering the context of the call but I avoided bringing that into the conversation, and then asked if, IF I wanted a receipt.
Newsflash. When someone pays someone else over a month’s worth of their take home, you bet your ass to Christmas Mass they want a goddamned receipt. And that receipt? Clutch the pearls, the last line stated that Universal Diagnostic Testing, LLC, “appreciated the opportunity to serve me”At that point, while reading that last line, I swear I popped a blood vessel in my eye. The rage. Oh, the rage.
But I digress. What did I learn? Many things. First, while I work in healthcare, I am loathe to ever access it again in the next 12-18 months for fear of being bent over and violated by the powers that be. Second, the road to hell is paved with good intentions: five grand later, and I still have a glamorized SCUBA mask that doesn’t help me breathe at night, which has ignited a huge family argument over not only my health, but one’s ability to understand subtle social cues and overt entreaties to drop sensitive subjects. Third, if I get another unsolicited and unexpected bill from the 84070 zip code, I will implode, and I will take any and everyone with me.
Word to the wise? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.