Paying for Health Insurance

I’m with Kaiser Permanente for health insurance. So is the Ex-GF. We’re happy with it, as far as things go.

Now, regular readers may recall something I noted a while back… earlier this year, when the Ex-GF switched to Kaiser (she was with the Motion Picture health care plan – she used to be a ward-robe consultant, but hasn’t done that in a while), we ensured there was a six month period with overlapping service – just in case she got something in her first few months, we didn’t want her new service being cancelled as a result of some pre-existing condition of which we were completely unaware. Ah, the wonders of the efficient American system, in which it is necessary sometimes not just to have one insurance policy, but two at the same time! T

OK. Fast forward to today. We’ve been having issues putting the Ex-GF on direct deposit payment. Today I decided to take care of it once and for all. We got a form from Kaiser that I had to fill out… and it asked for one piece of information that wasn’t on her card or any of the bills – the “provider number.” I believe that’s the code for the employer who pays the bills… but we pay for it ourselves. So I spent about thirty minutes going through the maze that makes up their automatic phone system. Eventually I spoke to a human. And here is the problem… they wouldn’t tell me what her provider number was – I needed her permission. But by then she had left to run some errands. I explained – “listen, I’ve written every check for her account so far, and I don’t want any personal information. Just tell me what the code is to put down on the form. I want to pay the bills automatically.”

No dice. WTF? I understand keeping personal information, and medical information private. And how much she pays. But I wasn’t asking for anything like that.

So end result… an hour later, we called back Kaiser and went through the same rigmarole. In order to get a number that has zero meaning to anyone except Kaiser and doesn’t in any way provide any information at all.

Now, I’m satisfied with Kaiser. But this system is ridiculous. I estimate that so far this year, we’ve spent about $1,500 on overlapping (duplicate) insurance for the Ex-GF and who knows how much time on the phone getting the details to work out. And our time has value too – I could be spending time consulting. These are the wonders of the efficient American system.