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Dear Health Insurance Company: Here Are 7 Ways I'll Make You Rich

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Hi Company,

Listening? Would you be if this were titled “I Want to Help Give Your Customers What They Need”? Truth is, you’ll be more lucrative if you provide the best care — aka, treat customers like humans and allow them the right treatment. This isn’t a joke. Here’s how. 

1. Good customer service and healthcare means more business. Instead of being at the helm of your customers’ horror stories, you’ll be getting rave reviews. Self-explanatory. 

2. If you stop being stressful, your patients will be healthier. Poor service is making your customers sicker. I’ve collected salivary cortisol samples (stress hormones) in lab studies where subjects were exposed to less maddening scenarios than dealing with you, and their cortisol levels still surged. Chronic cortisol levels are associated with a host of conditions. Learn about allostatic load. A lack of control over health, work and ensuing financial strains are correlated with heart disease.

You’re a master of stress. From coverage denials to calls that get disconnected (me giving you my number in case we get cut off, and you saying you can’t take it. Then me saying, Can I have your name? and you saying you don’t have an extension). Your representatives hike blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol levels like it’s their job.

3. Stop rigid “customer satisfaction surveys.” You called my father about a specific call. He asked, Which instance? He’s been on the phone so much regarding his wife’s multiple sclerosis, he couldn’t pinpoint one. When he tried to get into a new inquiry, the rep asked him to recall an old date, prompting more scripted, robot questions. He proceeded to lash out at you. Your protocol brings out the worst in people.

4. Listen to more stories from customers. I woke up the other day thinking, “Good thing I have a treatment this week!” While standing in CVS on the phone with you (about a whole other issue), I triple-checked that my appointment was all set. You told me the infusion didn’t have prior authorization (the infusion center told me it did, so I had to play middleman today). I was then told another medicine is “not the preferred medicine.” Oh, but my body prefers it, and that’s where it’s going. Why throw a wrench in a regimen I’ve carefully titrated for years?

5. Listen to what the doctor is prescribing. Let’s not go with the mystery drugs. My sensitive body may have a reaction to the drugs you want me to have. Then I’ll have to get pumped with drugs that combat the reaction — you know what that mean$. Got your attention again? Think of it the way you understand: new mystery drug means more money for you when complications come. (OK, just learned you’ll let me have my “preferred meds” after I hit my high deductible. Fine, I’m willing to spend a ton now if you let me have what I need later.) 

6. Don’t be shortsighted about “unnecessary treatments.” Sometimes procedures that manage symptoms and cancer risks are “unnecessary,” and only emergencies are covered. Think big and practically — emergencies are more costly. And remember there’s a human who’s enduring the complications you’d then be paying for.

7. Know who to listen to about your business. I don’t hate you, Insurance Company. I want to help you, help them. I don’t need to do this muckraker journalist style. It’s no secret there’s muck, I won’t expose every maddening instance of it. You want to spend less money on me, and I want to be healthy. If my doctors suggest treatments they know will do that, please let me have it.

My desire to help make your customers less stressed and given the best health treatment will raise your profits longterm. Let’s help each other. Maybe we can be friends. 


Angelica, your new sugar momma

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Originally published: April 1, 2015
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