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Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association
For those who don't know: I work for the IT department of an auto insurance company. Right now, I am in the process of analyzing the Claims system, in preparation for a rewrite.

Among other people in our office's claims department, I talked an MCCA clerk today. Oh sure, we all know what the MCCA is here in Michigan. It's the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association. It's an annoying fee that gets tacked onto our auto insurance. A few years back, they randomly refunded part of it, sending $180 checks to every insurance-owner in Michigan, to most people's great joy (and insurance IT people's great annoyance). Then the fee went up again, making everyone wonder why the heck they'd returned some of it at all (it was some random politician's idea, to gain popularity). It's gone up again recently, and people are annoyed with their insurance companies again.

It wasn't until watching this associate work, though, that I started to realize and remember what that MCCA thing is really all about. I was watching over her shoulder as she reviewed a file. It was for a 14-year-old boy. There were a few terse comments on the main screen. "Head trauma re-eval every 6 months. Left foot is getting worse. Left kneecap is in his thigh."

Oh my God. This kid's left kneecap was lost somewhere in his thigh? Not only that, but this was apparently minor enough, compared to his other injuries, that they hadn't gotten around yet to fishing it out and putting it back where it belonged.

It made my skin crawl. Ah yes....Catastrophic Claims. I just gloss over that word normally, without realizing its meaning. Catastrophic. "At present, the MCCA pays for all medical expenses for people with auto-related medical injuries that exceed $325,000." In Michigan, there is no upper limit for injury claims. We won't stop fixing you, no matter how much it costs. The MCCA provides funds to make sure this happens without insurance companies going under. These catastrophic claims are paid by the state fund, the MCCA. That's where our $100 fees are going.

I knew all of that, vaguely. Approximately. But something about reading that little bit of red text on the computer screen....Left kneecap is in his thigh....it became much more personally relevant. That little boy has already needed over $325,000 in treatment, and none of it has retrieved his kneecap from his thigh.

I mulled this over as I finished our conversation. I picked up my Tiny Tim crutch, and I mulled this over as I limped my way down to my office, then left for the day. Next I endured a whole bunch of unwelcome poking and podding. My kneecap hurt. A lot. But at least it's where it belongs, not lost in my thigh.

I said a prayer for that nameless little boy this evening. And all the other people, represented by the stacks and stacks of sequential pieces of paper, itemized with bills and medical histories, which I saw filed away in the MCCA department. The pain, and challenge, and suffering, and courage, and horror of the stories behind those pieces of paper? I can only imagine.
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Comments
jebra From: jebra Date: April 15th, 2004 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thanks

I'm cringing a little now, but I'm still glad you wrote that.
elizilla From: elizilla Date: April 15th, 2004 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
The refund was because they overcharged us and they got sued. The politicians didn't do it, the courts did.

retepsnave From: retepsnave Date: April 16th, 2004 07:23 am (UTC) (Link)
wow.... yes it is too easy to forget the people involved, instead letting the numbers, paperwork etc. impersonalize the situation....
but it is indeed saddening and a good jolt to remind you that you are alive and well (or well enough...)

thanks for the reminder, as grewsome as it was, it is still good to be reminded that we are all in good health...
From: caneprints Date: April 16th, 2004 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your story illustrates so well what many people in the disability rights community deal with all the time, the perception by the general public that disability-related programs and issues affect somebody else, not themselves. It seems many people can't imagine that they themselves could someday end up with a disability and need these programs, but all it takes is a split second of bad luck behind the wheel or some other kind of accident/misfortune, and a totally healthy person's life could be changed forever.
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