Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I Am a Health Care Sisyphus

Last March, I wrote about the struggle to initiate my health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

Despite receiving (and paying) two bills, I remained without coverage. I was told several times that while the bills correctly listed my chosen plan and ID number, I didn't exist in any database that would lead to actual coverage.

I had to wait—even if the bills didn't.

In that post, I concluded that Blue Cross' billing department seemed to be the only one able to accomplish anything, and as such ought to be running the whole show.

That was premature. It turns out they just needed a little time to catch-up to the rest of the company.

From January through July, I was able to pay my bill via telephone, ensuring next month's coverage was, well, covered. It was the only aspect of my plan that was simple, consistent and trouble-free.

But simple, consistent and trouble-free don't jibe with the BCBSIL business model. Complicated, labyrinthine and convoluted do. Which are the reasons I presume OrbiPay was discontinued.

In place of OrbiPay on the August bill was a phone number which didn't contain the promised functionality (at least if the prompts on the menu can be believed). Who knows, maybe if I had recited the Magna Carta in Latin, farted three times and screamed “Death to ObamaCare! Let a free and unregulated marketplace decide our health care choices!” it might have relented.

After several excruciating attempts, I resorted to calling OrbiPay, where lo and behold I was able to make my payment.

September and October have presented larger challenges.

The number listed on the bill again refused to reveal its check-by-phone option in September, and despite being listed on the BCBSIL web site, OrbiPay was no longer in service. I at last reached a human being by dialing a third number and overriding its computerized voice recognition software.

Things didn't go so smoothly this month.

OrbiPay is still dead—and still listed on the BCBSIL web site. (What does it cost to update a web site, anyway? Fifty-million? A hundred-million? A couple hundred bucks?) The number listed on the bill, which again promises to accept payments by phone, won't accept mine. Ditto the number I used in September.

I finally reached a human being after launching a stream of invectives into the receiver and at the voice recognition software.

The operator who answered was not able to tell me why my payment had been refused, nor why OrbiPay's number is still listed on the BCBSIL web site. She was able to offer a one-time telephone payment that is somehow different from other telephone payments so that my account might be brought up to date.

Remarkably, the story doesn't end there.

Yesterday I received a customer service questionnaire from BCBSIL, which is certainly laudable. It wanted to know how they did.

I clicked away at the 'Take Our Survey' button, eager to respond.

The little round icon in the upper left-hand corner that tells me the browser is searching for the page went 'round and 'round. Then it went 'round and 'round some more. It stopped about the time I began to think I was watching the introduction to Vertigo.

The result? Server Not Found.

I realize now fault lies with me. I expected something. And that is where I consistently go wrong with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois.

If I wasn't so exhausted by the struggle to deliver money to a multi-billion-dollar health care behemoth, I'd accuse them of wanting to be a non-profit. Or some other kind of dirty, filthy Obama-styled socialist.

But we all know what a joke that would be, don't we? This is a company that eliminated credit cards as a method of payment. Guess those swipe fees were killing them.

I can hardly wait for the inflated premiums and astronomical deductibles I am told lie in wait for Illinois customers in November.

I'm sure they will be difficult to pay as well.

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