Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My Med-alert Life Saver Ring

Since I spend a lot of time home alone, I got one of those Med-alert Life Saver rings. You’ve seen the commercials. An old man is sprawled on the floor at the foot of his empty wheelchair. But fortunately he’s wearing a Med-alert Life Saver ring. “Heeeeeeeelp!” he cries. “I can’t get up!” But a Med-alert Life Saver operator, wearing a headset, says, “Don’t worry. Help is on the way!"

Med-alert Life Saver rings are inconspicuous. They look like an ordinary piece of jewelry. They come in silver or gold with your choice of a wide selection of fake gem stones.

I ordered a silver Med-alert Life Saver ring with a fake ruby on top. The instructions said for me to come up with a “safe phrase” to program into my ring. The safe phrase activates the ring, hands free. The safe phrase works on the same principle as the “safe word” in BDSM sex. You say a word like "pomegranate" when you want your partner to stop. It should be a word you would never otherwise says during sex, like "pomegranate," so there’s no mistaking what you mean.

Same with the safe phrase. When you say your safe phrase, your Med-alert Life Saver ring activates and connects you to the operator. So in order to avoid triggering false alarms, your safe phrase needs to be a phrase you would never ever otherwise say. With that in mind, I chose as my safe phrase, “Boy, syndicated columnist George Will sure is brilliant.”

Well it wasn’t long before I had to put my Med-alert Life Saver ring to the test. I fell out of my wheelchair head first and landed on the bathroom floor on my knees with my head in the trash can. Stuck in that embarrassing, ostrich-like position, I shouted out, “Boy, syndicated columnist George Will sure is brilliant!” And it worked! The faux ruby flashed! And soon, coming from the tiny speaker on my Med-alert Life Saver ring I heard, “This is Misty, your Med-alert Life Saver operator. How can I help?

“I fell out of my wheelchair! Please send paramedics!”

“Yes sir right away. And what insurance do you have?”


“Yes sir. As soon as I know who’s going to pay for the ambulance, I’ll dispatch one with alacrity."

“I’m on Medicaid! Please hurry! My head is stuck in a trash can!”

“Ooh I’m sorry. It says here Medicaid won’t cover the cost of an ambulance, not when you’ve got your head stuck in a trash can. That falls under the category of frivolous.”

“What? That’s bullshit!”

“However you do have the right to an appeal. The Medicaid appeal department is open every third Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. If your appeal is denied you can appeal the denial. And if they deny your denial appeal you can appeal the denial of your denial appeal. And if you denial appeal is not once again denied then I can dispatch an ambulance immediately!”

“But I need help now!”

“Do you have Medicaid supplement insurance?”

“Yes! I have a Medi-bridge policy from Fidelity Of New York!”

“I see, you have FONY insurance.” I heard Misty tap away at her keyboard. “It says here whatever amount Medicaid pays for an ambulance, your FONY plan will match that amount, which in this case is zero.”

“Well I still need paramedics, dammit!”

“Well I can dispatch an ambulance immediately, sir, if you pay for it out of pocket.

“How much does an ambulance cost?”

“If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

So I proceeded to tell Misty, loud and clear, exactly what I thought about Medicaid, FONY insurance and, most of all, my Med-alert Life Saver ring.

But then there was a knock on my door.

“It’s the police!” said a voice.

At last! Help finally arrived!

The police entered. “What’s going on in here? We got complaints from the neighbors that someone is shouting obscenities at the top of their lungs.”

Seeing me with my head in a trash can, the police put me back in my wheelchair, after first making me take a breathalyzer test.

If it wasn’t for my Med-alert Life Saver ring, I might never have been rescued.