Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Multitasking to prevent madness

Multitasking is essential.

 I have learned to entertain myself while waiting on hold for supply companies, pharmacies, doctors offices, state agencies and, everyone else I have to deal with in Maggie's' World. To that end, I am writing this as I wait for Anthem Blue Cross to answer the phone.

Dealing with the insurance company is best handled early in the morning before the operators have had 100 irritated  customers swear at them and before other aggravations of the day take their toll on me. Everyone is fresh and eager in the morning. Right?

Maybe not.

Something preventing me from being fresh and eager this morning: this call is completely unnecessary and aggravating. One of Maggie's (several) supply companies, Byram Healthcare, refuses to send her supplies, diapers, catheters, under pads, etc, until they get a letter from the insurance company verifying these items are not covered by Anthem Blue Cross. Theses supplies were supposed to be shipped on Friday November 1 and I parsed out our dwindling stock carefully over the weekend anticipating a delivery on Monday. No delivery received. Instead at 5:30 PM I receive a call saying they need this letter before they will ship the supplies.

The supplies are paid through Medi-cal, and I understand Medi-cal only pays for things insurance doesn't. What I don't understand is why I have to run this down. Every other provider simply submits the bill and the insurance either pays it or denies it. That is efficient. Making me call is not. Also, holding Maggie's supplies which we desperately need,and informing me they need this after they were supposed to be shipped is just cruel.

Ranting aside, it has to be done. I called Anthem just after 8:00AM and went through the entire matrix of the automated phone system. It took at least 5 minutes Press 1 for member. Done. Say or enter the membership number or the social security number. Done.  Say or enter the subscriber's date of birth. Done. Sorry we don't have anyone with that birth date. I find that incredibly hard to believe but I don't argue with machines. I just enter same thing again. Done. If you want information on a claim press 1, information on pharmacy 2, etc etc etc. For more options say "More" MORE. another menu of choices before I can finally press zero only to hear:

You have reached us outside of normal business hours. We open at 8:30.

Deep breath. Serenity now.

8:31, I go through the same thing and eventually reach a kind, well rested eager human. Ahhh. He tells me. Oh, you've reached the wrong department, let me connect you to blah blah blah department.I hold my breath hoping I won't get another automated answering system while I wait and wait praying I won't be cut off. I'm not. I reach another well rested eager human. I repeat all of the information I already told the computer, but I do it without snarkiness and without complaint.  He is perplexed by my request because it is so out of the ordinary, even though I make this request every year. I tell him they sent one about this time last year, and I believe he found it because suddenly he understood and agreed they could fax the letter to me.

I started to hear a small choir of angels until he said "It takes up to seven business days to get the letter done." The music stopped.

Seven business days is two weeks in real time. That is a long time to go without diapers.

It's not the end of the world. I will take my credit card and head to the medical supply company to buy what she needs for the next two weeks. Of course there won't be any reimbursement for that, but I am going to take care of my daughter. I just wonder what happens to the Maggie's of the world who don't have families to step up to the plate when the system hits these ridiculous and unnecessary bumps.

Call completed Blog entry written.

What's next on the hit parade?

Addendum: Fax received from Blue Cross less than 90 minutes after my call. Huzzah.


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