After I made a dental appointment last week, the receptionist called back to say we no longer had dental coverage.
“That’s interesting,” I said.
“Yep, and you don’t have any medical insurance either,” she said.
The dentist’s receptionist is a perky sort, so if you’re going to get bad news, she’s a good one to get it from.
“No dental or medical, huh?” I asked.
“Nope, nothing. As a matter of fact, they said your husband was terminated May 31.”
I said thanks and that I’d call the husband at work and tell him to come on back to the house as he had been fired three months ago. Why he’d been getting paychecks was beyond me.
When I called, he couldn’t talk long because he was busy photographing a spot-news story about a gas line break. He suggested I call the insurance company. I suggested he keep his distance from the gas leak, as we didn’t have insurance.
I called the insurance company and they confirmed he had been terminated May 31. The rep then said she couldn’t talk to me without first talking to him.
For a brief moment, I wondered how all these people could be wrong. Maybe he had been terminated. Maybe he hadn’t been going to work. Maybe that wasn’t really his credit line I’d been seeing in the paper. Maybe he had another wife and another family somewhere. Maybe I had watched too many Lifetime movies on TV.
It took three hours, numerous phone calls, a lot of hair pulling and two emails with a few words in all capital letters, but the situation was resolved. He had not been terminated; someone had read the wrong line on a spreadsheet and set the ball in motion.
The fallout from being told you don’t have insurance coverage or a job is nothing compared to the people who are told they don’t have a life. Each month, Social Security mistakenly lists 750 living Americans as dead. That’s 9,000 people a year wrongly identified by the government as deceased. Once you get on the death list, it’s not easy to get off.
“Sixty Minutes” recently profiled four people who had wrongly been listed as dead. All of them had been locked out of their bank accounts and assets. One woman had been arrested and taken to jail for suspected identity theft.
Several years ago, a man in Utah mistakenly listed as dead visited a Social Security office to protest his “death” in person. The clerks wanted more evidence.
The husband and I are thankful that we are once again in good standing with insurance coverage, and that his employer once again has him listed as employed.
Oh, and for the record: We are very much alive.