Make your next call to customer service productive (and dare we say, enjoyable?)
No one likes to call customer service. But when you need help with your health insurance, it’s important not to stay silent.
“I tell people to advocate for themselves like they would for their child,” explains Caitlin Donovan, director of outreach and public affairs with the National Patient Advocate Foundation. “People can get really shy when asking about or pushing for health care coverage for themselves, but very few get shy when it comes to their kids. They need to have that same dedication to their own health.”
That said, advocating for yourself doesn’t mean a fight is about to ensue. In fact, you can have a productive (and dare we say, enjoyable?) conversation with your insurer by following these tips.
1. Keep Emotions Out of It
We know, this is easier said than done. But when disputing a claim, checking about prior authorization, or following up on payments, you’re basically in a contract negotiation, says Donovan. Explain the facts of your case with plain language. After all, the customer service representative on the other end of the line knew nothing about your case prior to answering the phone, and they are there to help.
2. Have All of Your Information Ready
At the start of your call, you will need to provide the customer service representative with identifying information about the patient and plan. And, depending on why you’re calling, they may also need information about particular claims or bills. For a smoother, more efficient experience, make sure you have the following information handy:
- The plan name
- The policy number
- The group number
- The phone number of the health care provider you’re going to discuss
- Any pertinent explanation of benefits (if you’re calling about a recent claim or procedure)
- Any pertinent bills or letters (you’re calling to ask about something received in the mail)
Having all of this information at the ready ensures that your representative will best be able to assist you. Also, keep in mind that if you’re not the patient, you will need to have the patient with you, since there are legal limits to what questions you can ask on behalf of an adult.
3. Take Notes
It’s easy to forget details following your phone call. Be sure to write down notes, type them on your computer, or record the conversation. You can download a call-recording app for your smartphone for this purpose. Just let the person on the other end of the phone know that you’re recording. If you have any confusion or anxieties about the call, you can also ask a friend or family member to join and help you with it. You can call customer service together on speaker or have a three-way call. Most smartphones have the option to add a call. To start, dial your friend, press “add call,” and then call your customer service rep. Press “merge” to make the call three-way.