Totally legal…screwing you around…


America—-we like to think we have the market cornered on efficiency.

A while back, I needed  postcards.  In theory, you can go to the post office & get  postcards that are already stamped. I send them to clients to remind them to call me.  Since nobody sends postcards anymore, they really stand out.

Long line at the Post Office.  I stood in line for over 1/2 hour, got to the clerk, and she tells me, “We ran out.”

Huh?  I looked around, and said, sarcastically, “This IS the post office, right?”

She got snarky & said, “We run out of things, too!”  So I said, “I’d like to talk to the postmaster.”  She tells me–get this, “She’s on vacation.”

I said, “You mean she went on vacation & knew you were  running out of postcards & didn’t reorder more before she left?  Why don’t you guys put up  a sign?”

I told this story to a friend, & he told me he had a similar experience when he  went to get an application for a vehicle sticker at a currency exchange.  He stood in line for over 1/2 hour, got to the window, & the clerk told them they had run out of applications.

Do you think these people care if they inconvenience you?

My main reason for  addressing this now is because of what my last health insurance company, Assurant Health, did to me .

I was self-employed, and made the big mistake of checking http://www.ehealthinsurance.com  You post anything there & you are immediately inundated with offers to buy insurance—& the sellers don’t even  look at your parameters.  They  just email you with offers that don’t make any sense, or start calling.  Very obnoxious.

So, I finally settled on Assurant Health, as they were offering  the best I could afford:  a $10,000 deductible for $174.50 a month (this ended up at $235 a month…).  It included nothing.  I had to pay for everything up to  $10,000.

In August, they sent me both a letter & a postcard telling me they’d pay up to $100 for a “Wellness Visit,” to my physician.  Well, they were  not paying ME.  How it would work is that I’d make an appointment with my doctor, email the card back to them with the doctor’s name & date, and they would send ME a check made out to my doctor to give to her.  That’s easy to understand, right?

I made an appointment .  Not so easy, because when I told the practice manager  that the insurance company was sending me this check, what did a wellness visit actually cost, he said, “$300.”

When I asked what that included–the $300, He stammered, “Well, you have to work that out with your doctor.”  So it’s not so straightforward.

I wanted a cholesterol test, but I also wanted to discuss my supplements & a few other issues, so I made the appointment, sent the info on the card back to Assurant, and….the  date was approaching in 2 days, & I hadn’t received the check.

I called customer service at Assurant Health, & they told me that actually, the check would be sent directly to my doctor.

Huh?

“Then why did you send me 2 pieces of mail telling me that you would send the check directly to me?  What a waste of time and money!”

—And the customer rep says—I am not joking—“Well, you’re not paying for it!”  So who is?

OK–whatever.  I got to the doctor, who  sees me & we have our discussion, & she also sends me to LabCorp for blood work…because they are cheaper than her practice, and I go home. The end.

On Friday, Nov.13, I get a call from Assurant Health  telling me they would not pay for the visit as the practice coded the request wrong.

Huh?  What codes?  I didn’t need codes to submit the request that my doctor be paid. Why are they needed now?  So…I called the billing department for my doctor & requested that they resubmit with the appropriate codes..& I wrote  a letter to the chairman of the board of Assurant Health , and the CEO & cc’d the Illinois Department of Insurance and several of my elected officials. This was 11/18/09.  On 11/24/09, I got a response from the Illinois Dept. of Insurance, telling me they were  looking into the complaint.  In early December, I got an UNSIGNED letter from Assurant Health telling me that  “I have been assigned to look into your complaint.”  Then, Dec.12/29/09 (delivered shortly after the first of Jan.2010, Lenore Burger of Assurant Health  wrote me that she was looking into my complaint but needed access to my medical records!  For what? What does how they market have to do with my medical records?  & they have still not addressed their  ‘bait & switch’ marketing…but to  add icing on the cake, they sent me  a letter, with another marketing piece, that tells me  I have  “an opportunity to save up to 10% ” by filling out a healthy discount questionnaire.”

Who hoo!  My rates will  drop—from $174.43 a month to $167 & change.  Uh…not so fast—-I read the whole letter—& they are actually raising my rate to $209.49 a month—& the logic  is that  if I qualify, my rate will only be $188.94 a month.  That’s the discount. I am not making this up.  So they are raising my rates 20%, but it will only go up 10% if I fill out the form & they approve it—making it a 10% DISCOUNT. Now do you understand why children in the U.S. have so many problems learning math?

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