Customer Service n Health Care Tips + Podcast: C. Levy’s Book Art

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Are you a creative novelist like me or work at anything else for which there’s never enough time? For too many people, precious moments are squandered ironing out business issues with health care agencies, stores, and all manner of institutions. The one silver lining is that any time a consumer fights for fairness, it helps everyone.

Here are some of the things that worked for me when health insurance woes added to the chaos of when I had cancer and when I injured my knee. If you’re covered through your employer, their personnel department is your mediator. The rest of us must tough it out on our own.

Before listing some of the tactics I’ve gathered that can be used anywhere and with any type of business, I owe great thanks to Obamacare. Here in California it’s implemented as Covered California (Obamacare’s official name is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for short.) Thanks to ObamaCare, it is illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against gender and pre-existing conditions other than tobacco use. Best of all, it ensures everyone is covered.

Note to Californians like me: Most know Covered California subsidizes health insurance for individuals with low incomes. (Medi-Cal helps people with zero income.) Few are aware it can broker for anyone. They’re a formidable mediator with excellent customer service! Thanks to them, it was a heck of a lot easier to work out my insurance problems.

  1. Above all else, stay solution-oriented and tenacious.
  2. Be emphatic about what you need and why. Make sure whoever you’re speaking with understands how important this is to you. Don’t settle for their doing what’s easiest for themselves.
  3. Telephoning, not merely emailing, achieves more immediate and thorough results. Phone when they’re least busy, such as early on weekdays or after 7pm. Forget about weekends. Even if they’re open, they’re likely to be super busy and their decision-makers are usually off-duty.
  4. Don’t waste time. Again, telephoning and not leaving things to just email works best. When using the phone, the moment they start to give you the runaround, ask to speak to a supervisor. If they’re totally obtuse, hang up and redial so you might encounter someone better. Later, be sure to fill out an online grievance form.
  5. If your grievance is not rectified within 30 days, it’s easy to file a lawsuit with the state. To learn how to do this without paying a private lawyer, google “how to file a consumer lawsuit.” In the case of health insurance, consult your broker.
  6. Don’t take things personally. Stay focused. For everyone but you, it’s just business.
  7. Refuse “No.”
  8. Keep notes regarding: A) who you spoke with, B) the number you dialed, the date, and the time of day, C) a transaction case ID number, ticket number, or whatever identifier they use for your interaction.

For interacting with a doctor, Kaiser Permanente offers great advice. In short, start by researching for like-minded physicians, then communicate assertively with notes and questions. Bringing a family member or patient advocate can help.

Doctors strive to be reassuring, but if yours isn’t concerned enough, use the “C.U.S.” method. State:

  • C: I’m Concerned.
  • U: I’m Uncomfortable with your diagnosis.
  • S: My top priority is my Safety.

Also, it never hurts to get a second opinion.

Good luck! I’m rooting for you — it’ll help all of us.

Sun rays through forest trees by
Sun rays through forest trees by

Have you experienced terrible service?

51 thoughts on “Customer Service n Health Care Tips + Podcast: C. Levy’s Book Art”

  1. I think everywhere we have these issues with the insurance companies. Even my husband has had two operations in this year but I was lucky because I have worked for a multinational company and they have taken care of his insurance otherwise I too would have to go from pillar to post and so much money would have gone from us to settle the bills.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That was very interesting to read! We don’t have the same problem with health insurance here in Denmark, it is just there, and we are very privileged that way, but I had or have similar problems now with the application for my pension from Germany. I usuallly get the names of persons as well, so one can refer, even if next time there will be another person. Definitely good advice for dealing with car insurance/other insurances and public service of any kind.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. On the one hand, yes, on the other hand this service has to be paid for, and that is done by comparatively high taxes, and I have heard several Americans say that they can’t see why they should finance other people’s illnesses, when they themselves are never sick and don’t get anything out of the system. The same with unemployment. It can hit anybody. But the social services are declining in comparison to earlier years, public services are being privatized to make a profit, and, surprise, surprise, the taxes don’t decrease accordingly … 😉 😀

        Liked by 2 people

        1. but we pay about 30% in federal taxes, plus sales tax which varies between states. here in Los Angeles it’s about 10%. moreover, privatized insurance is quite expensive. if one is lucky, it is part of employee benefits, which means it’s not free but the group insurance aspect makes it more affordable than buying as an individual. ie, for me via an employer costs about $600 a month (not including co-pays, which are fees one still pays on top of that, ie $30 per visit to general doctor, higher for specialists, more for tests, prescriptions, etc). the same would cost me as an individual about $1000 per month. I wouldn’t mind paying higher tax for better services…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. We do pay a lot more in taxes here, when we were working that was over 40%. It varies with income, the lower incomes pay less percentage than the higher incomes. VAT is 25% here right now. Some few things are lower. We only have to pay for dentist appointments, whereof some services are subsidized by the government. We do pay for medicine, but there is a system, the more one needs to buy, the more one is subsidized. If you need a certain medicine, but cannot afford it, you can apply to your municipality for help. They usually comply.

            Liked by 2 people

        2. it also annoys me to know that privatized insurance means that a big chunk of what we pay for it goes to all the sales involved such as advertising, sales people, etc. people who sell health insurance often make quite a lot of money

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Really useful and frankly this info can be used for so many of these huge organisations. I ran into issues with a bank back in the U.K. who made mistake after mistake wasting me six weeks of my life and dare I say it at one point left me in a shaking state of tears. Once I changed my attitude to see it as a challenge and puzzle to get what was owed to me, it became easier. Like you, writing down every single telephone conversation was a real help and sometimes, just sometimes you actually get through to a person who has some common sense. A bit like with the airlines who have made it so very, very difficult for us to get refunds for the flights back to the U.K. we had booked when they had cancelled the flights. Now we just stick to the bigger and better airlines like BA. More expensive but worth it in the end. The temptation for me has always been to go for the lowest cost flights, the cheapest travel insurance, the best interest rates for accounts, but what I’ve found is that ‘all that glitters is not gold’. Great piece and thanks for the reiteration! Katie

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sounds like you need LOTS of time and patience to deal with insurance companies. You give some practical tips that we all need to remember for these and other similar situations. It’s always good to remember whom you talked with, and when!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Tx for your comment! Indeed – an certain that insurance companies must win a lot of battles simply because people don’t have time & energy to devote. It often takes mental gearing up to get on phone with them. The support of family & friends is invaluable.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great information, Daal! I’m sorry you’ve had to hassle with insurance coverage, but I hope everything gets ironed out. It sounds like you are a good advocate for yourself.

    Liked by 4 people

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