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I am on medicare, and I have a number of health conditions, each requiring brand name medications.  I pay $83.90/month for additional prescription coverage.  I won’t go into the details of medicare, except to say that when they have paid a certain amount, you enter what they call the “coverage gap”.  At this point you pay a much higher amount for your medications.  This continues until you’ve reached $5,000 out of pocket, at which point the plan takes over.  I’m in the middle of crunching the numbers to see if it makes sense to continue this coverage, but I’m pretty sure it does.  Grrrrr……

This year I “entered the gap” (thier phrase, not mine) in May.  Last year it happened at the end of September.  Naturally I wondered why, so I called.  God forbid me for what I’m about to say, but when I heard the persons accent on the other end of the phone I wanted to cry.  I knew that it would be a long conversation.  Again – I beg forgiveness – do they really not understand what I’m asking, or are they using the accent as a cover so they don’t really have to answer?  Either way, it’s maddening.

I expressed my concern as simply as possible – “last year  I entered the gap in September, this year in May.  Why the difference”.  As is usually the case in these calls, the representative started reading off each claim, what the plan paid, what I paid, what the medication was, etc.  I stopped her……..okay, yes I begged her to stop.  I assured her I had all of that information, and I just wanted to know what made the difference.

This is exactly what she said:

“you are in the coverage gap, but nothing to worry about because the good news is that when you reach $5,000 out of pocket the plan takes over”.

I put the good news in bold and italics because that is how she said it; as if she was Bob Barker calling me down to play the Price is Right.  Come on down, all you have to pay is $5,000……..

Knowing I would get no further with her I asked her to send me the EOB’s from 2017 and 2018.  She said sure, verified my address and we hung up.  A week later I got an EOB for December of 2017, and one from May of 2018.  To clarify, I fill prescriptions every month, so this did not help me.

In the end I went onto the website and wrote it all down.  The date, the medications, what they paid and what I paid, for both 2017 and 2018.  I figured out the reason I entered the gap much earlier this year.  Of course, this doesn’t help me.  But I’m not worried because I only have to pay $3810.44 before the plan takes over.  Yippeee!!!  (where is that sarcasm font when you need it??)

You might assume I’m writing this as my way of admitting that I am, under certain circumstances, prejudiced.  I hate that I have to admit that, but I do.  I have spent the past 4 years buried under paper and red tape, drowning under lengthy explanations, suffocated by irrelevant facts.  (i.e. – divorce)  I’d love to think that in the years to come I will be less and less bothered by the incessant, mind numbing chatter of customer service reps, but unfortunately, I think that is not true.

This is happening more and more, and in every area of our lives.  I was recently on the phone with my cable company.  (Comcast, aka XFinity, if you must know.)  When I started service with them a year ago I was adamant that I did not want to be in a package or have a contract.  Everything went along fine until around November, when all of the sudden they started taking much higher amounts out of my account than I was supposed to be paying.  I spent the next 3 months arguing the details of each monthly bill, listening to them read to me what I was paying, waiting for them to stop their ridiculous droning on, each time getting the bill reduced, but only after 40 minutes of arguing.  After 3 months of this,  I said “nevermind – take me off autopay and send me bills”.  I hate that I’m wasting paper and a stamp, but not once has my bill been over since I made the switch.  Imagine that.

While my bill arrives and is accurate, I noticed that in the margin it said “discounted contract rate”.  I ignored it for 2 months, hoping it would go away and I wouldn’t have to call.  No such luck.  I’ve spent about 3 hours on the phone, listening to them read me my bill, tell me about the “package” I’m in and the great discount I’ve been getting, blah, blah, blah.  They are completely unconcerned that they are about to lose me as a customer.  Perhaps they know how much I dread making a switch, knowing I’ll be knee deep in the double talk sales pitch, and think I won’t switch.  They are wrong.   Now I get to start the whole process with FIOS.  Can’t wait for that!! (again-sarcasm font, where art thou??)

On the few occasions I’m met with an actual positive resolution to the issue at hand I’m so stunned I’m rendered speechless.  I want to buy that customer service rep ice cream.  Or a martini!

Am I turning into a grouchy old person?  Am I just so tired from fighting my ex that each small battle feels like a redo of the past 4 years?  Am I simply a horribly insensitive person?  Am I sucker, that beleives blatant lies, then becomes overwhelmed with despondency when it occurs to me that once again I’ve been taken advantage of, and will have to spend hours listening to customer service reps repeating information everyone knows?

I did recently learn one trick for making these calls a bit easier.  When you are speaking with someone who clearly has no authority to help you but is tasked with keeping you away from a supervisor, just say “hey, I don’t want to waste your time.  I know how busy you are, and this isn’t really your problem, so can I talk to a person who is supposed to handle problems like this?”.  If you say this in a really sincere tone of voice, it works like a charm.

Perhaps I’m overly cynical, but it feels like there are very few honorable companies and employees out there.  It seems like the whole world is so busy worshipping the dollar that ethics and honesty are a thing of the past.  It’s  disheartening and frustrating.

Damn.  I’m turning into a grouchy old person.  Soon I’ll be saying “when I was a kid we walked to school in the snow, with holes in our shoes.  And it was uphill – both ways”.  Yuck.

PS:  You know all the calls that start with “this call may be recorded for training purposes”?  There is never a recording of these calls.  Never.

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