I really don’t like dealing with my HMO. If I asked for a show of hands for all those who find interfacing with their health insurance company a pleasant experience, I would probably get the same response I would if I asked the same group if they enjoy sticking a needle in their left eye.
When my family must interact with our HMO/PPO, this task falls to me, since I have a little more patience, being in the business. My wife did try to call one time. I begged her not to, but she insisted, saying we should share this burden. I reluctantly agreed, gave her the number, and walked upstairs to change. I came back down 10 minutes later, and she was sobbing into the phone, yelling "I don’t want to speak to a supervisor, I just want an answer to my question!" That was the last time she volunteered for that duty.
I really don’t have much trouble with customer service at our PPO. When I was in college, I sold books over the telephone. You know, the kind that once they start, they never stop coming? We had little flip charts: If they say no, go to chart 2, if they say no again, go to paragraph four on chart 3. If they say yes, get their info, etc. I lasted one half of one shift, and never went back, but it gave me enough experience to imagine how my PPO probably works.
I call the toll-free number, and keep hitting zeros until I am queued up. I listen to the Muzak version of Christopher Cross’ “Sailing,” and I am connected to my rep, Ted. This is one of the largest health organization’s in the country, and I get...Ted. I always get Ted.
CSR: Thanks for calling. How can I help you?
Me: This is Rick Vassar, My member number is—
CSR: Dude, it’s me, Ted. What’s happening?
I began to think that Ted was the only one who works there, and my suspicions were validated the day I unknowingly and accidentally hit the prompt to speak to someone in Spanish. I was put on hold, listened to some song by Carlos Santana, and just before the guitar solo, I hear:
CSR: Hola, como le puedo ayudar?
Me: Uh, this is Rick Vassar, my member number—
CSR: Vato, soy Ted.
Me: Ted, I don’t speak Spanish, can you help me?