America is a fearful nation and we have insurance for many things. When you’re of a certain age, as I am, few people escape the curse of disease.
PLEASE CANCEL MY INSURANCE, JACK!
The Red Barn Mall in the little town of Hatboro, Pennsylvania, is a dark, dank, smelly place, the home of DTL. I’d forgotten all about DTL until the other day when I parked nearby, away from the expensive parking meters – why pay, when you can park for free?
When I worked as a psychotherapist, I had received health insurance from the two agencies where I worked. The first agency was shut down for Medicare fraud. The second, Family Service of Bucks County, fired me. They simply didn’t like me. So now I was on my own, paying nearly six-hundred dollars a month from DTL.
Diverse Technical Lines. C’mon. Who’d name a company something ridiculous like that?
I still remember the look of their invoices which arrived faithfully in the mail, along with my CitiCard bill, Verizon Phone Bill, Water Bill, and PECO – or energy bill. The look of the DTL bills began to look frightening after I no longer had a decent income.
The blue sweep on the invoice looked like dark Arctic waters that would drown you if you weren’t careful. I waited until the very last minute to mail in my six hundred dollar payment, in case I would die before it was due. Yes, there were a few things wrong with me, but nothing that would kill me any time soon.
Four years ago, I turned sixty-five years old. The age to qualify for Medicare.
I decided not to pay the final monthly payment of DTL but whoa, baby, did they give me a hard time.
These are successful business people. The owner, Jack Ripley, wore clothes straight out of Gentleman’s Quarterly. His striped shirts were monogrammed at the cuffs. Country bumpkin that I am, I sat, mouth open, staring at his winning apparel. As always, I imagined myself married to him, Mrs. Jack Ripley, and having oodles of money.
Not to be. His wife, Dana, was his partner. I was a groveling little client at the time – I’m only slightly better now – and asked if I could have some Post-It Notes that sat on their table. They gave me blue ones. To match their invoices? At home, I couldn’t use them. As a bipolar woman, I’m terribly sensitive to colors, and the blue made me quietly depressed.
I visited the Ripleys at their Glenside office, backing into the parking space so I could exit quickly. Did they have vanity plates announcing RIP INS? Entering a new office or home is, to me, nearly as exciting as eating fresh lobster in Ocean City, New Jersey. It was filled with windows and Jack took me into his huge private office with photos on the walls. Not your Barnes Museum pictures, but catchy all the same.
Since I’d announced over the phone, I was terminating my health insurance, I was required to come in and sign a few forms.
“You sure you want to do this?” asked Jack.
“Sure,” I said. “What could possibly happen in a month?”
He leaned back in his black chair with arms, took a sip of bottled water and laughed.
I put my hands over my ears.
“Don’t tell me,” I said, “or I’ll get paralyzed in a car accident on the way home or have a myocardial infarction while watching the Charlie Rose Show.”
“Well, good luck to you,” he said, standing up and shaking my hand.
The luck of the Irish – although I’m Jewish – was with me. Six hundred dollars’ saved, to do with what I wished. Nothing. It stayed right in my bank account, though I did think of buying a new Richard Thompson CD. “The Wall of Death” is one of my favorite songs.
What the heck. I can listen to Thompson on YouTube any time I want.
Ruth Z. Deming, a psychotherapist, has had her work published in lit mags including The Legendary, Literary Yard, Mad Swirl and Writing Disorder. She lives in Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. She runs New Directions Support Group for people with depression, bipolar disorder and their loved ones. Her blog is www.ruthzdeming.blogspot.com.