Postal goblin

Here’s one mishap that I probably had no chance of preventing.  Thankfully, no disaster came from it.

My office space currently is a vacant suite with signage saying “Available.”  The door has a mail slot where the mail carrier insert the mail.  I honestly thought that the mail carrier would deliver my mail despite the “Available” sign.  I didn’t know that mail carriers had the authority to make executive decisions about which addresses receive mail.  Turns out that all my mail for the past month was being immediately returned to the sender because the mail carrier had assumed that the suite was empty.

The way I found out was when I didn’t receive my new business checking account debit card and checkbook after 3 to 4 weeks of having opened the account.   When I called the bank, they had told me that I should have received both items about a week prior.  To confirm my suspicions, I sent myself a blank envelope to my office address, which I never received.

Today, I went to the post office to see what was going on.  I learned that my mail wasn’t being delivered because it was addressed to a vacant space.  So, I went ahead and filled out a form to have my mail held at the main post office.  I’ll now have to drive over there once a week or so to check my mail, but at least my mail will be safe.  I also left a Post It note in front of my office door asking the mail carrier to start delivering my mail.  I’ll also be calling the post office tomorrow morning to speak to the mail carrier directly.  Defintitely a belt and suspenders kind of approach, but I really don’t want my mail returned to senders, who might suspect that my address is bogus or nonexistent.  I don’t want any insurance carrier or government organization to delay various applications because they have to “investigate” the validity of my address.  I may be a bit paranoid, but I absolutely don’t trust the flexibility and lenience of government organizations and the like.  I don’t want any preventable delays, because they will ultimately cost me money.

Thankfully, nothing of great importance was supposed to be delivered to my office.  For most things, although  I used my office address as my practice location, I had the option to list a separate correspondence address, for which I used my home address.  I went back through all my records just to make sure, and I think the only things that went to my office directly were my business checking account materials, which are easily replaceable, and a denial letter for membership to an independent practice administration (IPA), which would have given me all insurance contracts in one package.  The reason for denial was that they didn’t need another ophthalmologist in their organization.  It just means that I’ll have to apply to all private insurance carriers one by one, which is fine.

Had I been unlucky, this incident could have turned into a total disaster that would have delayed my startup by a month or two.

On an unrelated note, I just received my Medicare number only 3 weeks after my application was complete!  This is probably a record.  I’ve heard horror stories where some people took 12 months to get their number approved.  I’ll go over more in detail in a later post.

Howie’s comment: after reading this post, for each and every residential or office move, I have always written a letter to the post office at both my old and new address every time I move. You can also tape a note for the postman in your box with your cell phone number on it indicating that you’re taken occupancy. You’d be surprised at how many ways USPS can screw up to lose your mail or deliver your insurance checks to the dentist down the hall. I checked my office mail every 10-12 days before I opened.

Also, you need a phone number in addition to an address for credentialing. I don’t recommend you use your personal cell phone as as most of the applications want a office number they can list in their provider directory. I just bought a T-Mobile SIM card and put it into a old phone. I didn’t set up voicemail on it, and used this number for my Medicare application. They actually phoned it to check, and when no one answered they had me send in a copy of my office lease! So be sure you have a working phone number and can receive mail for credentialing.

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