Cost Advantage

I don’t like what I just figured out.

Today’s mail included a scary looking letter from my health insurance company demanding that I immediately call about a billing matter. So I called. I typed in numerous long strings of digits (dates, account numbers, event numbers, letter numbers, zipcode) and then spent an hour listening the Blue Danube waltz and numerous alternating assurances that my call was important and that if I pressed one I could leave a message (but that didn’t work). Finally the agent came on the line and, you knew this was coming, had me repeat all those long strings of digits again and a few other facts. Then she asked what my call was about. I read the the letter to her. She then asked what the event was. (i.e. broken arm) She then asked where it happened. (school) And finally if there was any other insurance carrier they who might be involved. (no).

Ok. So what did I figure out? Can you see it?

Their cost for that call was about 12$. So for them they might as well send out the scary letter for every single claim over say 120$. Maybe they can catch the doctor claiming something that didn’t happen, maybe they can catch the chance to shift the cost to another insurance company. My cost. Well that depends on what you think my time is worth. And, feel free to add a bit for my pain and suffering. But they don’t care about that; and the only feed back loop that I might use to reduce this goes all the way to Washington.

This kind of robo-calling is only going to get worse. Most of their cost is the 3 minutes of labor their human agent expended – but really there was no need for a human on their end.

The insurance company will do this for every transaction. The credit card company will do it for every transaction that is the least bit interesting (large, out of town, etc.). The airline will do it on the off chance you might admit your not going to make the plane allowing them to resell the seat. etc. etc. In all these cases the cost for them is so very low and the cost to me … well who cares about that?

2 thoughts on “Cost Advantage

  1. James Rifkin

    I’ve gotten several of those.

    It started after our first child was born, last year. After almost every claim, the insurance company sent out a BIG SCARY LETTER. And when I called them, it was always the same questions:

    Do you have any other coverage? Did you really see Doctor Smith? Etc.

    After about the third one, I started tossing them. They sent a couple of follow-ups, but nothing has happened, yet. (As usual, milage may vary.)

    At the little man’s most recent visit, the doctor’s office had a copy of a similar form that they said “the insurance company wants filled out.”

    We have Medica, for what it’s worth. I wonder is all the major players have started doing this.

  2. Al Chou

    Hopefully there’s some natural force that will prevent this practice from becoming SOP from every company, just as the nightmare of omnipresent advertising such as seen in the Minority Report movie (and portrayed much more harrowingly via the written word in other SF stories) has not (yet?) come to pass.

    It’s clever how a program less intelligent than Eliza can make us believe (until the live person comes on the line to ask for all the information all over again) that we’re not just wasting time waiting on the line by making us do something (viz., punch in data on the keypad).

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