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War Stories - December 2011.

Summary paragraph: We all have them: Those front-line experiences that are inevitable when one deals with the variety -- and sensitivity -- of issues associated with human beings and critical life events. Sometimes those stories are tragic, sometimes they are bizarre, and sometimes -- admit it -- they are just plain funny.

Our readers deal with them every day. Maybe there are lessons to be learned from every problem; maybe misery loves company; maybe we all just need something to help us keep these very challenging jobs in perspective. We hope you enjoy them -- and we hope that you find this feature a welcome respite from the trials and tribulations of the daily grind. Please let us know what you think at ( You also may send your own "war stories" to that address -- or directly to me at (, if you prefer. Thanks to all the readers who generously have continued to share the voice of "experience."

Having His Head Examined

In the multiemployer environment, benefit eligibility was based upon hours worked within a certain calendar time frame. About five minutes till 5 o'clock (the office closed at 5 p.m.), a member called to make sure he had medical coverage based on his accumulated work hours. Well, actually he wasn't completely covered -- and one of the provisions of eligibility was that he could remit the dollar difference of the hours he was short to obtain eligibility. So, the question to the member was, "Do you have an immediate need for medical care?" knowing that it would take him a while to mail a check for the difference.

The response: "Yes, I'm scheduled for brain surgery in the morning." I think there was a long period of silence. I mean, what do you say? We were thinking, "If one were having brain surgery, wouldn't one do a better job of making sure his coverage is in place?" However, within a short period of time, we were thinking we could expedite his situation more quickly by going to COBRA and faxing elections forms into the office -- but, in any event, the hospital had to reschedule the surgery.

Believe it or not, the member called in a few weeks later, still not having provided any form for COBRA or the shortage and, of course, once again the brain surgery was a day away. Sometime after this second attempt, he did comply and got his much needed brain surgery. I hear echoes of Ray Bolger singing, "And my head I'd be a scratchin' while my thoughts were busy hatchin', if I only had a brain."

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Date:Dec 1, 2011
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