Misunderstanding between Databases

I wrote a story a while ago about how a clerk at my previous job mistyped my resignation date, substituting January 2007 for my real date, January 2008. As a result, my medical insurance provider decided that I wasn’t covered in 2007, and requested that my doctor return the money he had already received.

After several phone calls my medical insurance was reinstated, but I kept receiving bills from my doctor. When I called my insurance, they assured me that everything was fine and that they had paid my doctor. However, my doctor continued to send me bills.

After half a year of phone calls back and forth, someone finally explained to me what was going on. My insurance company had initially requested the money back. The money was never returned to them, because my doctor’s office would not pay them a penny until I had paid the doctor first. In my doctor’s database, my visits were marked as unpaid.

When the problem was cleared up, the insurance company stopped requesting that the doctor pay them back. But the computer at my doctor’s office didn’t understand that stop-the-request command. It didn’t know what stopping the request meant.

The computers were talking different languages and I was caught in the middle.



  1. Felipe Pait:

    To err is human. To really mess things up, you need a computer.

  2. misha:

    That’s why humans need training (aka brainwashing), so they could follow the commands from computers without quaestioning them. Welcome to the brave new world!

  3. misha:

    Now imagine that your health insurance claims are handled by some allmighty propagation network, so nobody except some rare experts knows how, where and by whom the decisions are made. If it doesn’t make you a bit jittery, you have the nerves of steel.

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