Friday, June 17, 2011


On the left is an Atari 2600 with Freeway, a g...Image via WikipediaSo, there I was, being a Geeky Mom, checking out Twitter after an extended session of mining and building in Terraria with Trusty Friends NEligahn and Ellif, when @HMXThrasher made this tweet:

Being someone of the female persuasion, of course I had to check this article out.  I read it, re-read it, and face-palmed (appropriately on Captain Picard Day, I might add).

OK, CNN writers--just where the hell have you been for the last, oh, 40-ish years?  I probably was gaming before half of you were even born. My dad and I played Cat and Mouse on the Magnavox Odyssey. I played Pong with my aunt when it first came out.  The Pac-Man game at the arcade ate a ton of my quarters along with my time. I shot up millions of Asteroids and a few thousand AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back game on the Atari 2600.  I play games on multiple platforms now.  If it's fun, I play it. If it's great, I play it for years. I still play Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) for Jolee Bindo one-liners.  I play Star Trek Online with my son.  My dad, kids, hubby, and I all play Beatles Rock Band together--can't beat three-generation gaming. My daughter and I trade Pokemon. All of us in my family are going to be playing Star Wars: The Old Republic when it comes out.

Lest CNN and others who are 'speedbumps on the Clue Highway' think that I am an aberration in the female gamer category, Hubby and I quest through Tyria, Cantha, and Elona in Guild Wars, along with our guildmates in The Lost Haven--many of whom are female! I've shot down my share of orcs in Neverwinter Nights (NWN) 1 and 2 and LOTRO, all while gaming with other women.  I've installed mods for NWN 1 and 2, KOTOR 1 and 2, Dragon Age, Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, and Mass Effect--many of which were created by--shock, horror, FEMALES.

Even more--we talk, write, and tweet about gaming.  Trusty Friend leXX and I podcasted for 2 years about gaming on LucasCast, and share about different games regularly in forum posts and tweets.  Several women host the podcast 'Corellian Run Radio'.  Trusty Friends NEligahn, Ellif, and I are working on the Crossed Lightsabers podcast. There are any number of women writing for gaming websites and magazines. I'm certainly not the only female gamer who blogs, either.

Welcome to the 21st century, CNN.  Glad you made it out of your mom's basement to discover that we gals have been upstairs for years, XBox controllers or Orochi gaming mice in hand, fragging VC in Call of Duty: Black Ops or slicing and dicing the bosses in Fallout: New Vegas and Red Dead Redemption. I'll even share my controller with you if you promise to quit being so idiotically surprised that women actually game.  Try and keep up with us, boys. We women aren't going to hold back on our leet gaming skillz for you.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, June 13, 2011

Contacting the State Board of Insurance=Success

Picture of the Ozark Mountains from Missouri S...Image via WikipediaMy, my.  It's amazing what contacting the State Board of Insurance will do for speeding up our coverage process.

First, a big kudos to the State of Missouri for getting our "official" marriage license out to us so quickly, since the copy hubby and I have been carrying around for years apparently is "not official".  I was about to leave the house to express mail the 9 dollar fee when the lady in the County Clerk officer told me 'oh, it's actually free for anyone in the military'.  So, she sent it out that very day, and I was able to email it to Wheaton Fransciscan 2 days later when it arrived.  That was awesome.

I found out that the State had forwarded my complaint to Wheaton Franciscan.  Not so surprisingly, 2 days later I received a letter saying my insurance had been terminated, despite the assurance over the phone just the day before the letter that we had a 'grace period' to get the paperwork in and that I wouldn't be removed from the insurance.  I suspect that was their equivalent of flipping me the bird.

The day I got the 'we're flipping you the bird' letter, I called WF again and said a polite version of "WTF????" The nice lady reassured me that we were still in the grace period, though I highly doubted it.  What's on an erasable voice recording and what's on paper are two different things.  Well, the day after I emailed the super-special marriage license with all the spiffy numbers, seals, and assorted other doo-dads required to make it "more authentic" than my copy, we got an email saying I'm covered after all. I suspect the complaint to the state expedited moving on our case more quickly. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How to Give Outstandingly Bad Customer Service in Health Insurance

Health Insurance Does Not Insure HealthImage by SavaTheAggie via FlickrOne of the things I love about blogging is that I can speak my mind about a number of things. Most of the time, this happens to be about people being dweebs on gaming forums and saying silly things while MMO servers are down, or about adventures we have trying to kill bosses in dungeons, or about Geek Funk. These are usually fun and/or just plain silly.  Occasionally, Serious Things happen in my life, and I feel compelled to share them with you.  Face-palming at this atrocious behavior somehow makes us all feel a little better.

So, today, Trusty Friends, the discussion is "How to Give Outstandingly Bad Customer Service in Health Insurance."  The company in question? Well, I don't want to say the name of the company...oh, who's kidding who? Of course I'm dying to tell you it's Wheaton Franciscan! 

Now, this is the company Trusty Hubby has been working at for years.  However, he's been deployed to Army active duty several times during his tenure at this particular hospital. When he's on active duty, we are covered under the military's health insurance, so we don't use Wheaton Franciscan's health insurance then.  To be fair, we've never had any problems until he returned from this latest deployment.  Apparently, Wheaton Franciscan hired a number of new Vice Presidents during his last deployment who feel the need to justify their salaries by making life an unbearable hell for the rest of Wheaton Franciscan employees.  This includes cutting benefits, cutting jobs, cutting salaries, and just plain denying coverage for anyone trying to get back on the health care plan.

Now, since Trusty Hubby has been employed at WF for a number of years, and despite the fact that the insurance plan has covered us in the past without any problems, and has all of our information on file, we found out we had to jump through some new hoops to get coverage again when Hubby went back to work after coming off of active duty.  Apparently during the time he was gone, WF had discovered all sorts of people claiming family members who weren't really family members.  "Hundreds", we were told. There are only a few hundred WF employees--am I somehow supposed to believe that a good 75% of the employee base was committing insurance fraud? Give me a break.

So, then we needed:
a. Birth certificates for our kids
b. Our marriage license
c. Social security numbers for everyone (what they did with this information they already had on file, I don't know--it's probably being spammed out to identity thieves in China, Russia, and/or Algeria).
d. A copy of our 1040 tax form proving that all of us were claimed on Trusty Hubby's tax form so that WF would believe we had kids. If they show up on a tax form, then of course they exist!
e. Proof from my workplace that I didn't have insurance through them, or we'd have to pay a surcharge
f. Providing detailed information on an online form.

We dutifully sent all of this in. Once. Via Fax.  When we asked several weeks later what the status was, did they have any of the paperwork? Of course not.  We faxed it again.  Silly us, this should have been our first clue that things were not going to turn out well, and that things should have been sent certified mail.  We called again.  Naturally, it was 'not received' again.  Of course, their viewpoint is, 'if our fax machine doesn't spit it out for us, you never sent it'.  I suspect they intentionally avoid putting paper in the fax machine so they a. don't have to do work that day, and/or b. have plausible deniability when someone calls to ask if they're now covered.  I was informed that I also had to fill out the online form again, because 'something was wrong with how your husband filled it out'. I jumped through that hoop for them, too.

So, let's sum up so far:

We've sent in the paperwork 3 times, and finally hand-delivered it once.
We've filled out the online form twice.
I've faxed in the form showing I don't have coverage through my employer twice.

Everything should be set, right? 


What we have:
Coverage for Trusty Hubby.
Coverage for our son.
No coverage for our daughter.
No coverage for me.

That's 50% wrong, my Trusty Friends.  I'd like to point out that if I got things 50% wrong in my office, 100% of my patients would be half blind.  Thank God these people aren't in charge of anything Really Important, like the CDC labs or nuclear ballistic missiles. We'd have radioactive Ebola viruses spread over half the world.

What we're paying:
Family coverage, for employee, spouse, and all kids.
A surcharge for me, because, surprise, surprise, they LOST the paperwork sent TWICE stating I have no coverage through my employer. So, they're taking extra money out of Trusty Hubby's pay, all while not covering me, because this is a brilliant financial move according to some VP in the company.

What I call this: Fraud. Pure, unadulterated FRAUD.  We are paying for something we are not receiving.

Last week, we received an email from them, stating they could not cover me until we sent them another copy of our marriage license.  Apparently, the copy we picked up from the county courthouse, actually got signed by the Chaplain, witnesses, and everything ON THE DAY OF OUR WEDDING, was not good enough.  Despite the fact that it's been good enough for the US Army for the last 20-odd years, it is not good enough for WF.  No, WF required the version with serial numbers on it, notarized, licked, sealed, and containing both my bra size and the DNA of the County Clerk in triplicate on it.  They don't want blood, however, because that would be a biohazard.

At this point, after having dealt with this for months, and seeing this ridiculous new requirement designed to delay coverage even LONGER, I decided that contacting the State Board of Insurance would be a simply excellent idea. I told the state that I thought this was a delay tactic so that the company would either not have to cover the 2 most expensive people in the family or could delay paying our claims.  Not so coincidentally,  the two of us who are not covered are the two who've actually seen a doctor in the last 3 months. I'd do my best Gilbert Gottfried impression and say "What as surprise! I think I'll have a heart attack and die from that surprise!"  However, I'm not sure what my insurance status is, so having a heart attack right now is out of the question.

Contacting the state turned out to be an even better decision when I received a letter from the insurance company the next morning, DATED JUNE 1, stating they needed copies of all our paperwork, YET AGAIN, and that it was due--get this--MAY 30TH.

Now I was really mad.  When I call to make a complaint, I am polite, but firm. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, no matter how big the fly is. Nevertheless, I informed them that sending me a form dated 2 days AFTER the due date was about as intelligent as hitting an electrical line with a metal pickax, and that we had sent PDF copies of everything JUST THE NIGHT BEFORE.  The lady who spoke to me was amazingly patient, and informed me that everything was OK, explained that yes, I still had to jump through the idiotic marriage license hoop because the one we have isn't 'official' enough for them, and that we'd have until June 20th to get this in, as a special grace period.

Today, I received a letter saying my spouse coverage was terminated as of March 31st. The lady I spoke to on the phone again today reassured me we had until June 20th to get the paperwork in.

Sure. Like I believe that after all this BS.  I'm sure the State Board will find all of this fraudulent activity about as fascinating as I do. Moral of the story--if you have insurance problems of any kind, contact your State Board of Insurance. They can help you get it resolved.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, June 6, 2011

My New Namesake

A six-week-old kitten.Image via WikipediaYou know you've achieved some level of Geeky fame (or notoriety, I'm not quite sure which) when you have someone named after you.  In this case, the 'someone' is a very cute kitten, currently being fostered by online Trusty Friend, Kookee.  The kittens were dropped off on his front lawn a few days ago by someone who a. didn't care about the fact that he was leaving helpless kittens on the side of a road, and b. was too stupid to call the local humane society or even animal control, either of which would have happily taken the tiny little fluff balls to a safe place.  If you have dogs or cats, the least you could do is spay/neuter them so that they can't make little copies of themselves.  Contact your local humane society, because they often have discount programs to help.  If you can't do that and you do end up with tiny ones, surrender them to animal control or the humane society or no-kill shelter, please. Don't just dump them. That's cruel, and people like that belong down in the 8th circle of Hell, ranking only slightly higher on the hell hierarchy than mass-murderers and child molesters. 

So, Trusty Friend Kookee, being the crazy guy that he is, has taken the kittens in to foster until he can find a good home for them.  You can see the kittens here on this Youtube channel: 

It is not always easy to tell what gender little kittens are, however, especially fuzzy ones like these two.  Kookee had named them "Bob and Jay", thinking both were of the male persuasion.  Well, lo and behold, Jay turned out to be a girl, and Kookee's first choice of renaming her? Why, name her after an online friend, of course, and change it from Jay to Jae!

Only in a Geeky Mom world could a friend I met in an online gaming forum, LucasForums, find out a kitten is female instead of male, and then name her "Jae Onasi".  :D  If I weren't living about 800 miles from Kookee, and in the middle of getting prepared for a cross-country move this summer, I'd adopt her myself.

It's Adopt-a-Cat month.  Consider adopting a kitten or cat yourself, and if you aren't able to, please make a donation to your local shelter.  They can always use cat and kitten food, cat litter, paper towels, and even your time or money.

Enhanced by Zemanta