Time To Get My House In Order: Getting Fiscally Fit

Eventually I would like to retire, and I’d like to have lots of years ahead of me to enjoy it. This means getting my affairs in order, among other things. I am inspired by a former boss, now retired. As a parting gift to the rest of us, he told us to hire a financial planner and figure out when we could retire. I liked his advice, and planned to take it. Then the proverbial stuff hit the fan and I put that idea on the back burner.

Now, it’s time to take a deep breath and see what lies ahead. I still have a few, unfortunately large, unknowns in my financial future, but I took the plunge none-the-less. The first thing I did was to get a will drawn up and to create a trust for my children. It’s a relatively simple thing. Basically, if I die, all of my assets will be swept into the trust. Any liabilities I have can be paid from the trust, including funeral expenses, and then the rest, including life insurance, will go to my children. There are rules for when the money can be disbursed, so I know it will go primarily towards their education. If I live to the point where they are all independent, which I fully intend to do, then I can change the trust at any time.

Having made sure that my children are protected, the next project was to find that financial planner and figure out a likely retirement scenario and to make sure I get on track and stay on track to meet my pre and post-retirement goals. I was fortunate to get a recommendation from a trusted friend and I found the planner to be a great match for me.

It may seem simultaneously boring and scary to put together a financial plan, but the good thing about hiring a planner is that they do all the research and the math and they make recommendations for you based on your own goals. Based on my goals, I will likely have to work for another ten years. If some of those financial blows happen, perhaps longer. If I manage to weather the upcoming financial storms, perhaps I can retire a bit sooner.

I feel very fortunate to be in such a good position, but it is not an accident. I have always been a saver and I’ve always tried to live within my means. I’ve also always had a good handle on my priorities and I’ve done without things I’ve wanted so that I could live by my values and priorities. For the most part, that has meant investing in my own education and the educations of my childen. The great thing is that once they are all independent, I can finally spend my money on new priorities, including travel.

What a relief to have some answers and trusted advisors in my corner. Next up is making sure that I have the physical fitness to enjoy retirement.

Find the Joy in the Journey…sometimes that means knowing when to ask for help!

My Credit Ruined by a “Computer Glitch”

In 2011 my company imposed new requirements for our health insurance. If you get a physical in the first quarter, you get a preferential premium and if you don’t, they increase your premium. I always get an annual physical, but all of a sudden, my company was dictating when that physical had to happen. Of course, I went along with it. My physical, and associated bloodwork, would be at no cost to me.

A year later, I had my second physical and bloodwork under the program. In May, I got a bill for my bloodwork. I was surprised and called the lab. I was further surprised to learn that it wasn’t my 2012 bloodwork that didn’t get paid by my insurance, it was my 2011 bloodwork and they were only just getting around to billing me 15 months later.

This sort of thing just infuriates me…someone other than me makes a mistake and I have to fix it. I tried…I really did. I called the billing office of the lab and they told me to have my doctor call their insurance coding department to get the “correct” codes. I called my doctor’s office and was told that no matter how they billed it, half the time it worked and half the time it didn’t. They would try the “other” way. Then I went on vacation for two weeks…

When I returned and waded through all my mail, I found a second notice from the lab, a third notice, and a collection notice from a collection agency. I threw my hands up in the air and gave up. Meanwhile, the bloodwork for 2012 got paid by the insurance company, no problem.

So, this year, I once again went in for a physical in the first quarter of the year and had my bloodwork done. Eventually, I got a bill from the lab…the insurance hadn’t paid. I ignored it. I fretted about it. I felt hopeless to fix the problem. This week, I finally started making calls.

First I called the billing office of the lab. I found out that everything had been coded correctly. I told her my sad story and she said she wasn’t at all surprised. She told me that I should call my insurance company and apologized that she couldn’t solve the problem for me due to HIPPA. (Oh, another blog post all together…HIPPA causes so many “unintended” consequences.)

I called the insurance company and a cheery Jenny answered my call. I explained my current situation and she helpfully volunteered that their computer system had a glitch that often mixed up diagnosis codes causing claims to be erroneously denied. Huh! Within minutes, she fixed my current problem. Then I told her about my older problem.

I’d really like to clear my name, not to mention my credit record, regarding my bad credit record. It’s the only smirch on my record and is clearly not my fault. Now I know it was a “computer glitch”…I am infuriated that, given the already overly onerous billing systems for medical care, that a “glitch” is pushing people into collection. I’m also kicking myself for not jumping on the issue right when it happened because now my insurance company has long since archived my claim.

So, I fixed my current problem, but now I need to find my two-year old bills and ask my doctor to re-submit the claim then follow it through the system, including making sure the computer “glitch” doesn’t catch me again. Hopefully I can clear my name and my credit.

Find the Joy in the Journey…victory may lead to the courage to take on a bigger battle!