I’d rather change a tire

Somehow I have avoided two things all my adult life: Changing flat tires and wading through the paper work of admitting a family member to the hospital.
The last time I had a flat tire, I had barely pulled off the road when a gentleman driving a semi-truck pulled in behind me, whipped out a tire iron and changed that tire in 20 minutes.
The last time we filed insurance with a hospital, the gentleman I married whipped out his insurance card, gave the hospital his work place and we were out of there.
Not this time. We had to make a weekend emergency admittance to a hospital hundreds of miles from home. I actually volunteered to take care of the paper work.
Our current insurance program has a list of 800 numbers to be called. First, I had to get a pre-certification for the visit to the hospital. “Hello, would it be okay if we had a medical emergency this weekend? … Oh about Sunday morning. No, we really aren’t sure how long it will take.”
Any medical procedures are supposed to be with “preferred providers.” That’s another 800 number to check the out-of-state listings. “Excuse me, folks. We have a medical emergency hundreds of miles from home. The patient is being checked into hospital X. Is that okay with you?”
Finally, I had to call our insurance company’s billing office and alert them to incoming bills. “Get ready to pay.”
I went through the list of 800 numbers. The answering machines were very generous. “Take care of your emergency and call us back during business hours.”
I started calling early the next day. When I called the hospital’s financial counselor (a 90s term for bill collector), she did not want to talk with me, yet. He had to process all the patient admitted that weekend before Sunday morning. When I called her back at lunch time, I got complication number one: Another very small insurance policy might have first dibs on paying the bills. However, their computer did not recognize the patient’s name. I told her I would contact the institution providing the insurance.
Now I had not one, but two insurance companies to contact. By mid-afternoon I lived in the nether world of on hold, out of contact with real people as answering machines soothingly assured me that I was important to them. Real humans passed me off from one to another wanting only my name, rank and husband’s social security number.
By mid-afternoon, all my morning calls had been returned. The bill collector, excuse me, financial counselor, announced. “You have now finished with the most difficult part of hospital admissions – the paper work.” I was free to wait on hold to take with a doctor about the patient’s condition.
Wading through the paper work of the admission was easier than waiting on hold to talk with the doctor. But if I’d have my druthers, I would prefer to have changed a tire.