Not Much Assurance About The Insurance, Part 12

, , , , | Working | March 1, 2019

(For a variety of reasons, every year my parents have changed their Medicare supplement insurance. This year they are not changing and I’m not exactly sure of the procedure. I call their insurance company during open enrollment.)

Agent: “Hi, my name is [Agent]. Thank you for calling [Insurance Company]. May I have your member ID number?”

Me: “Sorry, I don’t have that right now. I just have a general question that doesn’t require my account.”

Agent: “Sure. What can I help you with?”

Me: “My parents have [Company] insurance—“

Agent: *interrupts* “I’m sorry, but due to HIPAA regulations, I cannot answer your questions due to privacy concerns.”

Me: “This is a general question that does not require knowing anything personal.”

Agent: “Sorry, I need an authorization.”

Me: “You can’t answer a general question about your company?”

Agent: “Not without an authorization.”

Me: “How about I ask the question and you decide if you need an authorization?”

Agent: “Ma’am, I’ve told you I cannot answer you. Please hold for my supervisor.”

(She puts me on hold and eventually, a supervisor gets on the line.)

Supervisor: “Ma’am, I understand you need information about your parents’ insurance and do not have an authorization?”

Me: “I have a general question about your company that is not specific to any individual.”

Supervisor: “We would need written authorization from the member to answer that.”

Me: “How about I ask the question and then you see if you can answer it?”

Supervisor: “Ma’am, if you want to do that, go ahead, but we are bound by federal HIPAA regulations.”

Me: “Great. Now, my parents currently have insurance with your company. The plan they have will be offered again next year. They do not want to make any changes. Do they need to do anything or will it just renew?”

Supervisor: “If they don’t want to change anything and they do not contact us, they will be automatically renewed. Now, what is your question?”

Me: “That was my question.”

Supervisor: “No, I mean the question about your parents’ coverage.”

Me: “That was it.”

Supervisor: “So, you do not have a specific question?”

Me: “I had a specific question: how do they renew? You said it’s automatic, so I now have the answer to my question.”

Supervisor: “If you do not have a question, I am going to end this call. In the future, please have a signed authorization available before you call. Goodbye.”

(I’m now thinking I should probably have them change to a company with smarter employees.)

Related:
Not Much Assurance About The Insurance, Part 11
Not Much Assurance About The Insurance, Part 10
Not Much Assurance About The Insurance, Part 9

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