The University of Minnesota has a snazzy new medical center.
And they don’t want you to pay them.
“Would it be possible to pay my copay?” I ask the “concierge” who is checking me in. I feel like I’m at a hotel, attaching my green beeper to my jumper so that my provider can come locate me using the GPS!
“I can’t process your payment,” the concierge in uniform says. She wears a white button-up shirt and a U of M kerchief around her neck. It is snazzy. This is at least a four-star hotel.
Plus there are refreshments in the waiting area.
“I’d have to call someone up here to help you.”
“Okay,” I say, though she was probably hoping I’d give her an easy out.
I have time. I proceed to the Refreshment Area where I pig out on decaf coffee (it is afternoon so I restrain myself just a bit) while I wait. This coffee machine is the reason I showed up 20 minutes before my appointment.
Finally a man wearing a maroon and gold-striped tie shows up with an iPad. He found me, I’m assuming, based on my GPS Tracker.
“You’d like to pay your copay?”
“I would,” I say. “It’s a lot easier to pay now than to get a bill in the mail.”
“I agree,” he says, and I’m glad to see that he finds meaning and purpose in walking around the clinic tracking down those few outliers who want to pay here and now.
I mean, it’s not that hard to pay the bill online. It just requires logging into your account, which just requires remembering your password. And in the time between receiving the bill and paying it, keeping track of the paper bill.
In other words, more effort than I’m willing to put in.
And then, despite my effort to head off snail mail from the U, one uneventful Friday, Axel receives an envelope with the clinic logo on it.
Aha! I think. He must not have tracked down the guy in the fancy tie.
But it is something entirely different.
Axel had forgotten to turn his GPS Tracker back in. And now they had tracked him all the way to his house!
He simply needed to send the Tracker back in the Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope. No need to add a tracking number, because, obviously, they could track down the Tracker without much trouble.
“Do you know where your Tracker is?” I asked Axel.
“Oh yeah,” he said, walked to the front closet, producing the lime green device in about 1/8 of the time it usually takes him to locate his condo keys.
I assume Axel took the Tracker home on accident. And if Axel could pocket the green gadget, so could anyone. Do they send out 100 of those letters a day? Does the guy in the maroon and gold striped tie stuff envelopes when no one is summoning him to make a payment?
The new clinic is fancy. And efficient in an inefficient way, which I guess I kind of respect.
I mean, I can’t complain too much. I really do like that free coffee.