An Insurance Claim–Like Pulling Teeth

UHC–any time anyone says anything against a single payer government run health insurance system I will fondly remember this 20 minutes I’ll never get back.

I’d like to thank United Health Care for today’s blog entry. Who knew calling an insurance company could be such a monumental event.

It all started with the automated voice prompt system. Call me crazy, but the automated voice tried to sound too friendly and it upset me. I know why it’s there. When the decision was made to put it in my convenience was down at the bottom of the list–if it was in the list at all.

Finally, after making a mistake in a date and not knowing how to undo it I asked for a representative. I answered a few questions and was transferred to another agent. She was in the “rapid resolution” department. Please. Spare me.

We went through her list of questions and when everything was done she rattled off a sentence that had lots of words but no practical meaning.

“Is my claim approved,” I asked? That seemed like a good question.

She rephrased my question to remove what I wanted to know and then answered again. It was an answer without the information I wanted. I asked again and again. Each time she rephrased what I was saying so she could answer a different, easier question. That’s a hell of a skill. Are they trained to do that?

After three or four of these little episodes I tightly rephrased my question and she fessed up… I think. It looks like I’m approved.

Why is this like pulling teeth? UHC–any time anyone says anything against a single payer government run health insurance system I will fondly remember this 20 minutes with you I’ll never get back. I know the whole idea is to make it inconvenient enough some people will give up and go away and the money will stay in your pocket.

How could a government plan be worse than yours?

7 thoughts on “An Insurance Claim–Like Pulling Teeth”

  1. I can relate. UHC is terrible. I’ve been dealing with them for 4 years trying to get my aunt’s claims paid (she is 101 and has a rotary phone)

    They want you to become frustrated so you pay them no questions please !!! I’ll bet a lot of elderly people pay claims they shouldn’t

    We need some kind of reform

  2. Geoff-

    As a fellow reader of The Consumerist, this illustrates why they always go far in the annual “worst company in America” tournament.

    On a personal note, a few months back, my elderly father-in-law began receiving bills from UHC for things that should have been covered. My wife called UHC no less than 28 (!) times in an attempt to clear up this matter. Often, the answering rep would tell her that the bills should have been covered, but didn’t know why they weren’t, and no, they couldn’t rectify the problem on their end. Sorry.

    Eventually, (this was the one final attempt we decided to make just prior to calling an attorney) a United Health Care rep who was actually knowledgeable and helpful answered the phone, and fixed the problem.

    What was the problem, in the end? United Health Care decided to issue my father-in-law a new customer ID number after my mother-in-law died. Why did they do this? Who knows?

    The problem was, this ID number issue was causing them to deny payment on $50,000 in medical bills (my father-in-law had fallen and was in the hospital for a bit, and the providers were beginning to demand payment from us when UHC wouldn’t come through.

    Needless to say, it was intensely frustrating and indicative of the poor state of the health care system in this country.

  3. I hate insurance companies. I have uttered terrible things about the people who work there. Misguided I’m sure as they’re just playing by the rules laid out by their bosses but still its maddening.

    Having said that….before you jump on the government health care bandwagon speak to people acutally on it. Speak to some Canadian citizens. My company has offices in Toronto and Montreal. I’ve spoken to staff in those office about Canadian health care….they’re no fans.

  4. Every healthcare system, even nationalized ones, ration healthcare. I get it. The question is, are the rules fairly applied?

    Nationalized single payer healthcare is not a panacea. It is just a lot better than what we have.

    I see no movement in Canada or any other industrialized nation to change their system to emulate ours. Why would they? Ours is more expensive with worse results! Though imperfect theirs is better.

  5. My (admittedly limited, and it was almost 20 years ago) experience with the German healthcare system has had me wondering ever since why we don’t look at that as a model, at least in the interim. At least back in 1990, everyone was required by law to have health insurance, which was private, but the insurance and the medical industries were both regulated so tightly that it was affordable for everyone. I had full medical, vision and dental coverage for the equivalent of $10 a month as a University student.

    Massachusetts has come close, but requiring everyone to have insurance without putting the reins on the medical and pharmaceutical industries isn’t really helping anybody in the long run. It all has to be completely overhauled.

    (And my Canadian friends, while happy to admit that their system isn’t perfect, still wouldn’t trade their system for ours for love nor money. At least in Canada, medical care is available on some level to everyone who needs it. That is certainly not the case here, and that should be a crime.)

  6. i dumped uhc last year , every claim was denied so the most stupid reasons , the straw that broke the back was when the wife went for a mamogram and and they only paid a small amount leaving me with a $170 co-pay. we were paying them over $900 a month and nearly everything was denied from prescriptions to flu vaccines .

  7. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in this country who aren’t interested in universal health care because they think they’re already adequately insured. Many of them will find out otherwise when they or a member of their family encounters a serious health problem. Or when they lose their job.

    I’m open-minded on the issue of single-payer vs. highly-regulated insurance companies vs. whatever. But it’s time for a change.

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