One of the best things about writing a blog is that you get an occasional opportunity to complain. Today I am going to complain about insurance company “help” lines. Help is definitely the wrong word. More like unhelpful lines, or anxiety attack lines.

First, it seems like many of these companies really don’t want you to call them. They make sure that the wait is long. Like, really long.

My favorite trick is calling multiple phone numbers, being put on hold for 15 minutes for each number, and then finally being told that I have not reached the right department. That’s in spite of the fact that I was using the phone numbers provided on the back of people’s insurance card or a number given to me by one of the multiple people who agreed to speak to me after 500 loops of “we value your call.”

Today’s call was particularly annoying. I was in a feedback loop that kept on telling me to speak the member’s ID number. Within that particular ID number was the letter “A.”

The voice recognition software did not seem to be capable of recognizing the letter A and kept on repeating back the identification number as if it had an “8” in it. This kept on going on and on. I tried to say “A” ever so clearly. I elongated the A sound. I paused between the numbers before and after. In desperation I said, “A like apple.” Finally the recorded voice said “Sorry you are having trouble,” and hung up! Even Siri can do better than that.

Okay, stay calm and redial. I tried again. I still could not get the software program to understand that A was A and not 8. So then I tried to hit # hoping to get a real person. That didn’t work. Then I hit the * button. No dice. Then I tried O for operator. The recorded voice was quickly getting ready to hang up on me. What to do? I gave up and walked around. I went outside and looked at the fish pond. I got a glass of water.

Then, after some deep breathing, I called another number. Several numbers later, I actually got to speak to a real person. And do you know what they said? The client was not covered for the services that I had already provided.

So, in the scheme of things, not getting paid for one person is not a big deal. But this seems to be happening with greater frequency. What is sad is that, if left untreated, mental health causes people to suffer, miss work and get physically sick. So what seems to be saving some insurance company a few dollars in the beginning will end up costing us all in the long run.

So, let’s see. I have to take a deep breath and ever so slowly exhale. Then another. And another…




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    Last reviewed: 22 May 2012

APA Reference
Smith, L. (2012). Insurance “Help” Lines: Talk About Anxiety Attacks!. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2015, from


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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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