Conflicting signals

My health insurance company is trying to kill me off. OK maybe that is a slight exaggeration but they are definitely contributing to some disturbing health issues.

First they choked me. Yes, it is true. They sent me a letter informing me that they would be ‘making benefit changes to my plan’ which to you and me actually means increasing my premium by 30%. This caused such a sharp intake of breath that I did in fact choke. Full face blueness was interrupted only by an involuntarily laugh and gafaw, i.e. a snort and explusion of breath at the idea that this company really believe they can do this to people.

Then came the crick in the neck. Taking direction well, I called the number provided to let the company know how I felt about the ‘change to coverage premiums’ and to change my policy. Given so many others across the US were obviously having their own choking episodes, I was put on hold for over 50 minutes. Truth of the matter is that they would have probably put me on hold for much longer but after 50 minutes my neck and shoulder were aching so much I gave up.

The ‘hold message’ did mention that I could change my coverage over the world wide web. However, once on the site the automated dialogue boxes tell me that I cannot in fact change my coverage via this site and that I need to talk to a representative. Torment ensues, what if I held on for just two more minutes, maybe the cricked neck would have been worth it??!

They then came after my mental health. I finally managed to speak with a representative and we discussed which policies might suit my situation and it so happens that this particular company had sent me new policy paperwork a month or so before so I check with the ‘rep’ that the fax numbers are still correct, which they are, and I fill it out and fax it over, she even says she will look out for it.

It takes another 36 hours for me to get a successful, ‘fax sent’ signal, it seems that the company’s fax machine had steam coming out of it at their end, but once I have confirmation that it has been sent I breathe a temporary sigh of relief and put away my copy of the paperwork safely in a drawer.

A week later I receive another letter, saying that my application cannot be processed, I frustratedly file through the many sheets of paper they have sent me to find the reason, ” We recently merged with another healthcare provider and no longer accept applications with the former ‘company name’ logo, please fill in the application enclosed with our new logo”. I grab at the application form enclosed wondering what other information they were going to ask me for, and how many more calls to my physician I might have to make to get this new form completed, only to discover that other than the logo and the fact it is now a booklet instead of loose leaf application, the form is in fact IDENTICAL! Wide eyed I snatch a pen and gripping it all too tightly, straining another muscle in my shoulder, fill out this new form, copying the details over. As mentioned I am now in possession of booklet application which requires a trip to the post office and as I pop the new application, with correct company logo, into that trusted blue USPS mail box I feel my blood pressure beginning to lower. I choose a ‘hey-ho’ perspective on the saga and forget about the whole episode.

Another week later the higher premium for the existing health insurance policy is debited from my bank account. I take a deep breath, feeling that it will be resolved soon enough and I will just choose to let it flow over me. It is however an entirely different flow than I expect. A day later, I receive an email saying that my policy cannot be processed. This is all the trigger I need for my high blood pressure, strained shoulder, tormented mental state, cricked neck and choking symptoms to flood at me all at once. There even has to be a brief triage moment before I am able to call the new number provided. I am placed on hold, but in context it is for a bearable amount of time, and I am greeted by another representative, who does apologize for the delay but by this time I am deaf to all pleasantries. I explain all that has occurred, which is evidently much more information that she requires and she tells me that the reason why my application cannot be processed is that the health insurance product I had chosen was discontinued on March 1. I physically deflate and become one with the sofa, I am mush with a phone.

The cheery representative leaves me for a moment, I think my mushy silence was a hint, to find out what my options might be, checking in every 30 seconds or so to ask me a question, I begin to be hopeful, and begin to notice that I do have bones in my body and could pull myself together if I choose to, but by now I really should know better. After a few questions and a little peppy chatter she vanishes. I really want to give her the benefit of the doubt especially given I have no idea what physical condition might follow if she doesn’t return to me and I wait some more. After 10 minutes I know my waiting is futile, I snap out of the sofa and start franticly pressing zeros and stars on the phone in order to see if I can break the code and get to a representative, ANY representative before the veins in my neck burst open, (noting that this would be the first ailment they would have caused, that had a serious possibility of damaging the furniture).

My thumping of the phone works and a very calm lady answers who assures me such and such a supervisor would be alerted.. do I care? Not a jot. I just want to be well again. She professionally gives me my options and we select one. She assures me that the application will now go straight to underwriting and will be put in place immediately. I am spent and as nice as she is, I expect nothing which is just as well.

Today there is voicemail from underwriting saying that they need more information. I walk over to the drawer, slowly retrieve my paperwork and make the call. Firstly the greeting states that if I am calling for an emergency I should hang up and dial 911. I am sorely tempted but cannot think of a suitable crime to charge them with. It then goes on to say I will be on hold for no longer than 7 minutes, new feature – nice. When the gal arrives on the other end of the line, I am braced, my muscles are taught, my jaw clenched. I am cave woman, in serious fight or flight response mode, poised for which ever it will need to be.

I give the rep all the security details she requires to get my file, she reads the inquiry on the file under her breath and asks me aloud if ‘the product’, she reads out the name, is in fact the one I chose? In the pause, I scan my full body. Which ailment are they trying to cause today? I instinctively feel it could be mental confusion or exhaustion and then wonder if they are now callously just trying to get me to beat myself over the head with the phone. Maybe? I repeat her question back to her and then say YES. I then tentatively ask if that will be all. She confirms that is all the information they need and in closing softly states that she is confused as to why the file said to call again today. It is only then that I truly realize the magnitude of the situation, it is not just me they are trying to kill off, they are in fact taking out their own staff too. My heart swells and I want to share some of my own survival tips of the last month but she is long gone and I stare at the original health insurance paperwork that sits beside me, telling me that it looks forward to helping me to “enjoy good health”.

I will enjoy good health, but not with any help from this company. They say one thing and do something completely different. They are a living breathing contradiction and I silently wonder what impact that will have in the long run. To be in such conflict over what you state as your intention, and what you actually do just doesn’t work, people see through it and it ultimately serves no one.

I will also make sure I enjoy good health because the idea of having to go through a claims procedure with this company will just about finish me off.


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1 Response to “Conflicting signals”

  1. 1 Bridget March 24, 2009 at 6:18 am

    I often find myself trying to put myself into the operators position. After all it is not them making the bad decisions, just the people expected to deliver them. I love that at the end of it all you found yourself in that same place. However, I do think they were trying to off you early;)

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