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Your Emails: Donuts, Coffee and Health Insurance

Breaking up the emails into two posts, as Funny Business readers speak out in force!

Starbucks wants to help cut down on coffee cup landfill clutter ?

Kim N. has been trying to do that for years: "Dunkin sometimes gives me a 'double' cup -likely by accident - with a cup inside another cup. Not wanting to waste that outer cup, I saved in my cup holder til the next time I wanted coffee. I have gone in three times to separate Dunkin's with the clean outer cup and said, 'I'd like a small coffee with cream only.... and would you please use this cup?' Each time I was refused. The first time, the guy immediately threw it in the trash and got another cup, as I was making my request that he reuse it.....I could tell he wasn't listening to me. So, the next time I held the cup closer to me and out of their reach as I made my request. The young woman said, 'I'm sorry; we're not allowed to do that.' 'Really?' I asked as I pondered about health codes. 'But if I can bring in my own mug, why can't I use this cup?' She responded that they were not allowed to give refills in their own cups. Refills?? I had not asked for a refill..."

Stephen P. replied to the blog about the best cities for job growth : "Living in Michigan poses some real challenges as far as jobs are concerned. I think what needs to be done is have our government officials open the flood gates around the Great Lakes and just flood the state of Michigan. We have no jobs here. Like the Great Flood in the bible perhaps we could have a new beginning..."

A reply from Mike N. about the Boston Market soda cup warning against straws in noses, which was really just a joke: "I was reading the box containing a meat grinder from Cabela's. It says not to insert your digits(finger) into the machine."

Scot S. wrote in about my story on students protesting cuts in CA education: "When I saw all the kids protesting tuition hikes and wanting forgiveness on their loans, I was struck by a couple of ironies. One was that all the generations before them had to pay off their student loans. It took us over ten years, in this household. The second was that their parents voted for all those idiotic pay raises and pensions for California employees the last 25 years. I think they should have marched through their parents' livingrooms with signs reading something like, 'Where's our booty?' 'Boomers busted our piggy bank', 'Pot head parents pinched our loot.'"

I got a lot of feedback about the blog where I tried to negotiate a lower fee with my doctor by paying cash rather than billing insurance.

PC writes: "You forgot to mention how they look at you like you just came in from Outer Mongolia when you ask about paying cash. Good luck finding anyone in a doctor's office today who even remotely understands that question. More seriously, it is because very few health practitioners today even control their own practices. When I was a child, most offices had two or maybe three people (including the doctor). You saw him or her and paid cash on the way out, and the doctors where far better off. Today, there are so many people in these offices and all most of them do is shuffle paperwork and fight with insurance companies. Great health care 'system'." ??

Stephen P: "Billing your insurance company for your medical exams must be done according to HIPAA rules and guidelines. Most insurance companies will only accept electronic submissions and not paper claims, and if you fill out those claims by pen the insurance company will toss out that claim... You may think that you are saving money but in actually you are not!...Let the doctor file the claim for you! Don't be stupid!!!"

Lisa M: "They are not actually billing your insurance because your HSA is not first dollar coverage. However, they are giving you the negotiated rate from the Network coverage from your health insurance provider. The health insurance companies do get a much larger discount than an individual paying cash. That makes sense , right?"

Doug Pike sent me this toon on the subject:

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By: Doug Pike

Tom G.: "Welcome to the new world of high deductible insurance and HSA's. I don't believe, as you indicate, that the health care providers are concerned about upsetting the insurance companies. Its' really simple. Unless your doctor is a lot older than me--61--he or she doesn't know anything but dealing with insurance companies..."

Stu: "My dermatologist gave me a 50% discount for paying cash."

Jeff J.: "I found a recent blog post w/ 2006 "60 Minutes" link about hospitals charging non-insured patients more. I wonder how much different pricing scales still exist in health care...thought I'd pass these along.

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com