I preface this post with my apologies to those involved in the medical field who are conscientious, diligent and dedicated to serving their clients. They do exist and I am very grateful whenever I find them.
Today, I discovered what I believe may be one of the hidden causes of high medical care costs. It is not necessarily the quality of the care one gets, but the level of incompetence one meets in the way of getting it!
I needed to get three bits of information related to medical procedures in order to pass that information on to my health insurance provider. I dialed the phone number and for the next 30 minutes wandered through an informational maze that brought me very close to desperate surrender. Remember, I needed just three small bits of information. It took 30 minutes all told. I had to talk with 5 different people and those five conversations consumed about 5 minutes of the 30 that I was on the phone. The remaining 25 minutes were spent on hold.
I finally talked to someone who was able to give me the information I sought … well … two of the three bits anyway. She did, however, provide me with a number to call where I could obtain the third piece.
I called the number and after making my request I was placed on hold. I groaned. In a relatively short time, however, the woman returned and said, “I’m sorry, the person who can provide you with that information is out to lunch.”
I wanted to say, “I know she’s out to lunch, but can I still talk to her?” I did however refrain from indulging that temptation. Instead I replied, “Ok, would you have her return my call, my number is ….” I didn’t get to finish my phone number before she interrupted me and said, “It would be better if you called her back, in case she doesn’t get the message.”
I persuaded the woman to take my phone number anyway but she said, before I hung up, “If she hasn’t called you back by 1:30, perhaps you should call again”. Well, she DID call at 1:30 (90 minutes later).
When she did call, she argued with me about the name of the procedure. My doctor calls it one thing, and wrote it down on a piece of paper. She acted as though she had never heard of it before and insisted on calling it another thing after I described the procedure to her. Once I agreed to call it by her preferred designation, she gave me the information I requested.
What concerns me about all of this is that such incompetence is found in the system to which we often entrust our physical well-being … and even our lives. It does not bolster one’s confidence.