[Tripping On…] Hour-Long Phone Calls

If there’s one guarantee for problems you’ll face if you need to use the health insurance your employer provides to you, it’s the random phone calls from these companies that want to talk with you for hours. I received one such call today. I was told, “this call may take up to one hour.[1]” At least I was asked if it was a good time. There’s never a good time for a call that long!

The main problem with these phone calls is that they talk in uninterrupted blocks.

Good communication, in my opinion, is like ping pong. You speak a sentence or two spoken. I listen to your sentence or two, or maybe more, and then I have the chance to reply. You then listen to my sentence or two, and then you continue. This sort of basic rapport is lost on these insurance reps. I wonder if that’s because of the nature of their work? I explained to this rep some of the problems I was encountering with their website, so they walked me through how to do it.

Allow me to give a drive analogy for how this phone call went:

So what you’ll want to do is start off by starting up your car and then when you get your car warmed up you’ll want to drive into town and then when you get into town you’ll turn at the road and then go forward until you reach a four-way intersection where you’ll want to make a turn where you’ll keep driving for some amount of time until you need to make another turn and by then you will have arrived at the destination.

All they do is spit out the information without checking to see if you understand.

If you respond with something like “I don’t understand,” they don’t clarify much. For this reason, I don’t like interacting with these reps via phone. Email support is somewhat better, but not by much. I reached out to my insurance company about three bills that arrived in my mailbox two weekends ago. Bills are being sent to me because neither my insurance company and the company tasked with reviewing my worker’s compensation company want to communicate with each other, and neither want the bills, so my insurance company rejects the claims.

It’s messy and that’s my best translation of what’s going on.

I sent an email along two weekends ago asking if they could assist in communicating what was going on. They did. I received two more bills this past weekend, so I emailed them again in the same email chain and asked if they could, again, assist in communicating what was going on. Rather than read any of the previous emails, I was asked about the patient’s name and insurance information. I replied back with something to the effect of ‘please see the email from Asherah last week, who was able to take care of this. Can you do the same?’

Someone else replied back and took care of it.

I’ve found that in two cases where I was assigned rep, they did their best to not treat me with any degree of respect or dignity, including today’s rep. I’m sure it must be a metrics game. I’m sure that they are tracked by the number of cases they get through per day, and if they don’t meet certain numbers, they’re canned. These reps don’t deal with customer service. They deal purely in relaying information on phone calls that ‘may be monitored for quality assurance’ so that if those phone calls are monitored, they’re only monitored to make sure that the rep verbalizes the information.

We had a bit of an argument about the one-hour phone call thing.

I still have my thirty-minute sitting restriction. It’s difficult to take calls like this while walking around, especially when I have two canes that I use when I go outside. I have been able to walk at a slow pace around my apartment while doing other things in my current condition, but my balance fails quickly. Of course, the problem with my arguing against the one-hour phone call statement is that… they don’t really have another process. That’s the protocol. It’s not just for these insurance companies, either. Before surgery, I had the rudest rep imaginable steamroll through a survey at such a pace that by the third time I was interrupted, I asked if there was another rep I could talk to because of how much I felt disrespected by being interrupted so much.

Ugh, these are stressful calls just writing about them.

If there’s any positive aspect to it, these jobs must be easy to do, because all they’re doing is following protocol. They read off a script and as long as they read it carefully enough, that’s all that matters. Fortunately, I received another option instead of the hour-long phone call, but that option was mired in its own peculiarities that I’ve tried to sort through without luck. My spine also started to hurt because I had reached that thirty-minute mark, like I am in now. Standing up during the phone call didn’t help, so I had to interrupt and say that my spine and tailbone were really hurting and that I had to lie down. Fortunately, again, this rep couldn’t say no and continue steamrolling the information to me, but by then, the pain was already done. My theory is that on these long, legal calls, my body tenses up as I try to understand and make sense of what I’m being told or asked.

If I sat during that hour-long call, it would be like otherwise like sitting for eight hours.

By that point, my tailbone would hurt as much as it’s hurting now. I’m so close to the end of the essay that I’ll endure the short-term tailbone pain. If I do this too much or too often, then I’ll encounter long-term problems.

We’ll see how this phone call turns out later.

Quotes[1] I remember this quote was particularly offensive.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2020 September 29 [8:28pm to 8:55pm]
Last Edited: 2020 September 29 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.