Well, the thing I feared the most finally happened: I owe a big chunk of money to someone all of a sudden. On Wednesday, I bought a ticket to Altitude Summit for next February, dipping into savings, knowing it was an important thing for me to do again and that I could work hard at home to replenish my savings account. On Thursday, I learned that my health insurance premiums have not been paid since February, despite receipts from Anthem letting me know that payment was received. I owe the insurance company nearly exactly what I spent on the Alt ticket.
I had a credit card number stolen early on in this trip and replaced it, but didn't realize that this payment was attached to that card. Never mind that I can't use the HMO I'm part of outside of Maine, I have been doing my deed as a good citizen and making sure I'm covered. Sort of. Actually, not really at all.
It turns out that the intersection between Anthem's "I'm sorry, but it's required to be a paper notice, ma'am" antiquated communication systems related to payment issues and my travel are just deeply, irreconcilably incompatible. The people I spoke with kindly suggested that I update my address, but that would not help since I am not there.
A good friend has made sure I received mail periodically for the last 10 months, but the notices Anthem sends are as illuminating as their entirely confusing member website, which is to say, they are as clear as mud. I don't doubt that I received them, but how did I, a person who always, always, always reviews and pays bills on time, miss this?
I have other automatic payments scheduled every month. Amazon won't send dog food if there's even a question about my credit card. Anthem sends me a "thanks for your payment" email even when I haven't actually paid in 5 months. Lesson learned: insurance companies really are completely inflexible and I am not their priority.
I had a good, long cry after getting off the phone with the company this morning. I'm furious with Anthem and their giant shoulder shrug/deep sigh response. I'm annoyed with my bank for not having a notification system that some company keeps pinging an old, stolen card. Mostly though, I'm intensely frustrated with myself for not catching this error, for not making sure that payments were going through, and for relying on a giant company to make sure things were running smoothly.
It's almost a relief to have this fear realized. I'll move through this, shake it off, and figure out what to do next. By the time you read this I'll have 4 weeks to go on this adventure. I'll be back on the East Coast, and headed for home. Over time this will become one of the parts of the trip that I can laugh about, the Great Insurance Screw-up of 2017.
C'est la vie!
Update: I wrote this a week ago, just after it happened, and decided to let it marinate for a few days. I rarely have a chance to do that, so this post reflects an in-the-momentness that I am rarely able to achieve. Writing it helped me jettison just about all of my frustration, and howling to my friend Christa, who patiently heard me out on our way to Madison later that morning, got rid of the rest. It's nowhere near the end of the world and is entirely fixable. This was the worst thing that's happened to me on this adventure, so in the end, the real lesson is to keep moving forward - an appropriate thing to be reminded of in Wisconsin in particular, where "Forward" is the state motto.