By Larry Teren
The phone rang and woke me out of a dream while taking an afternoon nap. (The nap, not the dream is one of the perks of working at home. In the interest of fair reporting, I split up the day so that a good portion of the work I do is in the evening hours when it is convenient to remote in to clients’ computers without interfering with their processing.)
I picked up the phone on the nightstand to the left of the bed and answered the call.
Caller: “Hello, this is Vishnu. I am calling on behalf your health insurance company. They want to know if you are willing to take a three to four minute survey on the quality of the customer service they recently provided to you.”
Me: “Sure, if it is not going to take more than three or four minutes.” Like I was otherwise busy, huh?
Caller: “Yes, it will not take more than three of four minutes. Let us begin…”
Flashback: a few months ago I had a colonoscopy procedure. The only reason I agreed to do it (I know- it’s important) was because I was aware that my insurance company would pay for it as long as it was written up as pre-screening and not exploratory. (Incredible, no?)
So three weeks after the exam, at the end of the month and I guess the hospital’s billing cycle, I received notice that my insurance provider paid for the procedure after chopping down the retail price by more than 50% (a 21th century game played where the covered patient is in the middle of an economic tug-of-war). It also indicated that I did not owe the unpaid portion to the hospital.
A couple of weeks later I got a statement from my insurance company that the hospital billed for the anesthesia. The insurance company again reduced the charges by more than half but I was obligated to pay the remaining $377. Being ignorant and usually in a rush to get things out of the way, I figured that the small print in my policy indicated that the anesthesiologist’s time was not covered. So, I when I got the bill from the hospital, I wrote the check and mailed it.
I mentioned this to my all-knowing older sister who is married to a doctor in the aforementioned hospital organization. She is also a pro at disputing hospital bills and said I was too quick to pay the bill. She said my insurance company made a mistake.
I sheepishly called the insurance company and they looked at my coverage and agreed that a mistake had been made and that they should have paid the bill. They said it could take a week to 10 days to straighten it out with the hospital and then I could chase them down for my refund.
I waited two weeks and received nothing in the mail regarding the billing correction. I went online to the insurance company’s website and still saw nothing had happened to correct the billing. I then emailed the customer service department asking them to check out the claim and let me know the updated status.
Two days later which was this past Wednesday, I received a phone call from their customer service letting me know that the correction was now being made. I thanked them and hung up . That’s the conversation that this research group wanted to follow up on Friday and find out if I was made satisfied.
Back to Present:
Caller: “So, did the customer service representative solve your problem on the phone the other day?”
Me: “I think so.”
Caller: “No, you must say either- very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat unsatisfied, very unsatisfied.”
Me: “Okay, very satisfied.”
Caller: “Good. How many calls did you have to make before you were satisfied?”
Me: “None. They called me.”
Caller: “Sir, you had to make a call.”
Me: “No. like I said, they called me.”
Caller: “Sir, they called you because you called them.”
Me: No, I emailed them and then they called me.”
Caller: Then you cannot take this survey.”
Before she had a chance to say “I’m sorry” and/or “goodbye”, I hung up and realized my nap was over.
And now, the hunt for the refund begins.. Tallyho!