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.