“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.” – Douglas Adams
As I recounted last week, my journey into getting health insurance began easily enough and we left off with Step Two of the process – that feeling of mild euphoria one gets when one believes an affordable plan with good coverage has been found. Fortunately, such silliness is short-lived, as we discover beginning with Step Three.
Step Three – Speak to the Provider’s Outsourced Sales Force from “Crazy Dave’s Discount Mattress Emporium”
I sent an email to the provider asking for more info and got a response back fairly quickly. The sales rep called me and we discussed different plans. When one thinks, “insurance agent”, the image that comes to mind is a guy in a dark suit with glasses. This guy made me think of the guy on late night TV commercials who’s got “Deals so good, we’re just giving them away!”. Seriously… he called me, “Bro”.
Step Four – (Finally) Speak to a Disgruntled Government Employee
Finally, Crazy Dave and I settled on something I could live with and that’s when I was told, “Okay. So, now that we’ve got this process started, go ahead and apply with your state’s marketplace so your coverage can be denied.”
So, I called the number he gave me. Each time I called, I had to sit through about three minutes of “To find the information you’re not looking for, please go to our website and… blah, blah, blah” speeches. Finally, I was told “Our system is currently at maximum capacity. Please call back later.” And then it hung up on me.
I called again and listened to the three minutes of useless information, went through the 327 options in the menu and was transferred to a real live person who sat silently (I could hear the background noise, though) until I said, “Hello?” and then hung up on me.
The third call was the charm as after the three minute infomercial and menu maze, I was put on hold for a brief hour and a half before a real live person answered and began taking all of my information. This process took about an hour and seemed to be pretty straightforward. Sure enough, I was denied coverage and was able to go back to the insurance company and give them the good news.
Now, I was really at the point where I could get my coverage!
Step Five – Start Over… Then Don’t
I called Crazy Dave back to give him the good news and ended up speaking to Crazy Daphne (his business partner). This is when I was cheerfully informed that they had no idea who I was and had no record of our previous conversation. So, she offered to take me through the steps again to find the right plan for me. I explained I had already selected a plan. She couldn’t find my plan and didn’t know that they even had that plan. I asked to speak to a supervisor who apparently had just walked in from lunch (in Bangalore) and had never been to the U.S before and wasn’t sure what insurance was. Finally, they found a record of my call and told me that all I could do was wait for a few days and then call back. Fortunately, this only took three hours.
The saga continues…