Monday, May 14, 2012

A Year of Rejection

In some ways, life overseas often includes some elements of confusion, but lately those confused moments have led directly to rejection. First off, we are allowed to choose one professional development option per year to attend or do online, and we are reimbursed a set amount of money towards that PD. Often if we travel, the costs are higher than what we actually get reimbursed, but the reimbursement is helpful and shows commitment to our professionally developing selves. This year I found the perfect workshop in Abu Dhabi that I was excited to attend; it was about Adolescent Literacy, which is exactly my interest. With the new processes in place this 2011-12 school year, I girded myself for a several step process, got rejected once because I had handwritten a form that needed to be completed on my computer, and attached a litany of documents - hotel cost (anticipated), workshop fees (expected), and flight cost (estimated). I was not allowed to pay for any of these items or make any deposits, which was rather tricky as the hotel and airlines were not willing to hold the room and seat for long. After a couple of hours of collecting, scanning, and finding the necessary documents, I submitted all to a person-in-the-know for these types of activities. She was pleased with my efforts and thought all was well. I hesitated to actually purchase the flight, however. A week passed and it was now three days until I was supposed to travel. When asked, I was not sure if I was traveling out of the country for the weekend or not. Finally, I got word that my request had been rejected since I had already purchased the plane tickets. (I had not.) With the-person-in-the-know, I went through all documents and found not a single confirmation of anything. As it turns out, while waiting for approval, the workshop had filled, the flights were sold out, and the hotel had no rooms left. I will try again next year...

Since our son broke his arm in the United States last year, we have been trying to collect the required documents from the hospital in New Hampshire and the clinic in Colorado where his arm was set and re-casted over the course of the summer. Upon our return from the US, I completed the requisite insurance forms and submitted the insurance documents that the hospital and clinic had provided us. Claim was rejected until all of the hospital invoices and doctors' notes could be supplied. I called the hospital. They were willing to mail everything I needed to a US address and, no, they could not send them in an email. The documents were mailed and eventually forwarded on to us through someone heading to the US who was able to bring them back. I supplied all the documents again. No, it was still not enough. I explained that I was supplying all of the documents that the hospital had, including the invoice that showed we had paid. After many many weeks, the insurance company reluctantly agreed to reimburse us about two-thirds of the amount spent on the doctors and care received.

Unfortunately, we started receiving an entirely second set of bills, which I thought were simply mistaken until I called and found out the second set was to cover the costs of the medicines and services actually supplied in the emergency room. The bill was slightly more than the original bill. At first I refused to pay, but then thought again that I actually might hope to return state-side someday, so after a few months of payments I was able to pay the second bill. I again sought to gather documents needed to submit to my illustrious insurance institution. It took awhile to actually get an itemized invoice which also showed we had paid the bill in full. I finally submitted all of the documents, with a letter, copies of all of the first invoices and doctors' notes, and a spreadsheet showing all expenses paid. After several weeks, nothing happened - until one night I received a phone call from a man stating that my claim had been rejected. Click. He hung up. Literally. I contacted the insurance representative at our campus, and they agreed to look into it. I provided them copies as well. Today, I received an email that - though it didn't reject our claim outright - offered us such a pittance that it may have been a rejection. We have not even been reimbursed half of our costs from our insurance company. Now, it is true that medical care in the US is outrageously expensive and few patients would ever have to pay what Americans pay for health care; nonetheless, I cannot imagine that Saudi Arabia's expenses are less than half as expensive. I was told the claim was rejected because it had been more than the 180 days allowed, but truth be told at least one third of those days we were still in the US, another third we were waiting for insurance to communicate. Rejection again.

Another benefit of working here is that we get plane tickets to return to our home country once per year or we can request cash in lieu of those tickets and we can travel where we want to. There is a somewhat simple process we must go through to request funds for this benefit. I recently submitted copies of our tickets and followed - or thought I followed - the steps listed for this request. After about a week, I received a terse, auto-generated email from a computer that I was not able to respond angrily to announcing that my request had been rejected. No idea why. Now I am going through emails and the human contact channels to determine how to rectify this problem. More rejection just means more delay and more work to solve the confusion.

My last major rejection of late was when I applied for new Saudi visas for David and myself. I was emailed the form, I dutifully completed it on the computer, I sought the requisite signatures, and I went to the appropriate offices to collect the final signature. As I handed my form to the HR guy, he said, "I don't think this is the right form."

"It was the one I was sent," I brilliantly replied, knowing all along that he must be right. I returned to the first floor of the building to actually submit the form, and I was promptly told, "This is not the correct form."

"Can I just fill out a new one and attach it to that one with all of the signatures?" I naively asked.

"No. You must start again. Didn't you notice that it was the wrong form?"

Rejected once again.