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Name, Rank, and Insurance Number

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IF anyone ever questions you on how you spend your day, don’t try impressing on them what an accomplished career woman you are. Tell them the truth about how you spend your day. You go to appointments.

It doesn’t matter if you hold down a full-time job out of the house, you work from home, or you’re a SAHM. Those details simply influence the how and when of your appointment schedule. At the end of the day — or at the very beginning, if you prefer taking kids to school late — you’ll all be sitting in the same waiting rooms. Which is a problem, because if everyone’s sitting in the same waiting room, the wait is going to be very, very long.

Tips and Tricks for Successful Appointment Planning

First things first: Find the elusive insurance plan that covers primary care, dental, orthodontics, optometry, dermatology, and whatever other ology whose care you or any of your family members need to be under. This insurance should preferably also cover prescription drugs. Yes, you’re asking for too much, and therefore, it will be unlikely to have all family members under the same plan, and for the kid who needs both glasses and braces, you may find yourself switching insurance plans between her eye doctor and orthodontist appointments. Schedule those appointments six months apart if you want to be covered at all times. Schedule all other appointments around those two, depending on which doctor accepts which insurance, and also, make sure she never falls so she won’t need to see an orthopedist who wouldn’t accept either of the two plans you’re jumping between.

When you find that perfect plan (and it’s affordable, obviously) kindly spread the word.

The next step is to figure out the best timing for your appointment(s).

Before you start, stop. There is no good time for an appointment, ever. If it works for you, it doesn’t work for your kid. If it works for your kid, the doctor will be out for an emergency that day. His front desk receptionist will tell you as much. Three weeks in advance.

And if by some miracle the timing works for all parties involved, really now, are you ever in the mood to go to an appointment? Yeah, that’s what I thought. And therefore I repeat: There’s no good time for an appointment, ever.

When you finally show up to that perfectly orchestrated appointment slot, leaving the baby’s stroller outside as per strict office rules, you approach the front desk and are handed a clipboard with a stack of forms to fill out. You need to do this while holding the baby, and you need to pause after filling out your first and last name for the first of innumerable times to take your three-year-old to the bathroom. With the baby still in your arms, of course.

When you return to the waiting room, you sit down again, baby in your left arm, clipboard in the right, and you proceed to fill in your phone number and address, after which you have to pause to give your three-year-old a snack. You write your email address. The baby yanks at the clipboard and crumples a few papers.

No sweat. All you need to do now is pull out your insurance card from your bag to copy over the requested ID, but wait, didn’t the receptionist take the card from you to photocopy? Doesn’t that mean she now has the necessary information? Do you still need to fill it out?

This is when your baby decides that he doesn’t want to be held in your left arm anymore, so you switch him over to your right arm and draw on your years of experience writing with a shinui on Chol Hamoed to continue writing your first and last name on various other sections of the forms with your left hand.

Your baby, perfectly content in your right arm, grabs the snack out of your three-year-old’s hand. He spills it over your sheitel and crushes a stray piece over the block on the bottom of the form where it says FOR OFFICE USE ONLY. If you ever wondered what the office puts down in that space, it isn’t corn pops. Request a new form and write your name, number, address, and social again.

Where were we? Oh, the forms. Believe it or not, we’re still busy with the forms, because you never finish filling out the forms. The next five pages obsess over your medical history, going back all the way to Avraham Avinu. Carefully review every question, because in a few minutes (or hours) you’re going to be called in, and the nurse will ask you all these questions again. They must be testing you for consistency, to see if you’re being honest about whether your great-grandmother did or didn’t have dentures.

You’re still holding that ridiculous clipboard in your hand an hour later when your name is called. “Just bring it along,” the nurse tells you sweetly.

But in the exam room, she doesn’t give you the time (or right hand, or table) to actually continue filling out those forms. She immediately starts firing questions at you, all of which you’d already answered on one of the hundred forms on the clipboard. But you answer again. No fever. No rash. No cough or runny nose. No heart attack. (Yes, I’m pretty sure about that.) Didn’t travel out of the country recently.

She leaves eventually, and you’re once again left to wait for the provider to enter your room. But you can’t fill out those forms now, because the baby is hungry and your three-year-old needs to use the bathroom again.

By the time the visit is over and all that’s left for you to do is finish filling out those forms and dropping them off at the front desk, you find yourself holding the baby in your left arm and the three-year-old in your right arm, your bag over your shoulder, and the empty corn pops bag wedged between your elbow and the clipboard. When you’re asked to fill out your first and last name once again, you know exactly what you need to do. Hold that pen between your teeth — a shinui according to all poskim, no doubt — and drag it over the blank line to spell A-M-E-L-I-A B-E-D-E-L-I-A.

Uh, maybe first find out if her great-grandmother had dentures.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 850)

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