Friday, August 19, 2011

Please enter

In past posts, I may have referred to the health care system here, and how I'm not a fan.

Last week, I made an appointment for something that wasn't urgent, but I'd been putting off for a while. Women's business. Naturally, there were slim pickings for times that suited me (ie not having to drag both girls along). Three weeks from now, I should be sorted - a whole month after I made the appointment, for what is essentially a basic check-up.

Yay American health care.

As I was making lunch for a suddenly-starving Faery today, my mobile phone rang. I didn't recognise the number, but answered anyway.

There was a pause, I almost hung up, then a pre-recorded message greeted me.

"Hello, MJ. This is an important announcement from Kaiser-Permanente. For your patient notification, please press one, or you can retrieve your message at any time."

Kaiser-Permanente is the stupid health insurance company we are with (as provided through J's workplace), and has us by the short and curlies. I'm unimpressed with them because our options seem pretty limited - we can only see doctors in their medical centres as it seems the more independent practicioners don't accept KP. Thankfully there is a centre close by, but as mentioned before, I can never get an appointment when truly needed without waiting. It's quite ridiculous.

So, being KP, I thought I'd better quickly listen to the message, in case it was about a change to my appointment.

I pressed one.

"Please enter your patient medical record number, followed by the pound key."

Really? The message isn't just waiting for me after all? I scrambled to find my purse so I could grab my KP membership card -

"The number you have entered is invalid. Please check the number and enter it again."

Sheesh! Give me a chance to find my number, why don't you? I located my card, and entered its number.

"The number you have entered is xxxxxxxxxx. If this is correct, please press one. If this is incorrect, please press two."

Oh my god. Just give me the frigging message already - YOU were the ones who rang ME. I pressed one.

"Please enter your date of birth, followed by the pound key. For example, if your date of birth is January 12th, 1973, enter 01121973, followed by the pound key."

Aaaaaghh! I entered my date of birth, and pressed the hash key.

"You have entered xxxxxxxx. If this is correct, please press one. If this is incorrect, please press two."

With an almighty exhale, I pressed one... to receive a general message about the importance of having a pap smear, and if I have not already done so, I should make an appointment as soon as possible.

Oh the pain.

If I hate bureaucracy and the American health care system, I think I detest automated phone prompts equally - especially when I didn't even make a bloody phone call in the first place.

How. Rude.

(Meanwhile, the Faery almost passed out from hunger.)

I also hate having to call customer service, and this perfectly illustrates why.

I'm glad I found that. I needed a laugh...


  1. Oh, I can't blame you ... I would have been annoyed too. What a pain.

    I've just had a "discussion" with someone on another blog about health care. Basically he came in saying that he'd lived in Australia for 12 years and the socialised medicine was terrible, just ask the aborigines.

    Oh, it gave me so much to work with, I can tell you.

    I can't blame you for being cheesed off. I feel annoyed with having to pay private health insurance which I can barely afford when I know I can get the same treatment at the public hospital for nothing because my taxes have already paid for it. It will also be top notch care by the same specialists who work in the private system.

    I hope we never get rid of Medicare. I would actually take to the streets to protest if that ever happens.

  2. Me too, Mel.

    I just couldn't handle that, Mad. A month to get an appointment? A routine check-up (albeit with speculum)? I can't fathom it!

  3. Melbo - I would have liked to be a fly on the wall for your "discussion". Don't you hate know-it-alls? Honestly, the Aussie system is a pretty good one. The fact that we have a choice for free health care, or faster, privatised care... not many countries have that. Maybe that person had Australia confused with Canada? Their health system is 100% socialised, but apparently that ain't so grand. Yep, choice is a good thing (and I haven't experienced anything in the way of choice options in the US - which I doubt people have a choice, anyway, unless they're rich).

    Angie - I know, crazy, huh? Mind you, I was less than flexible about times, so that didn't help. If I was willing to go during P's nap-time, or bring both girls along, I probably could have got an appointment for next week... but I couldn't think of anything worse. As it is, I still have to bring P along. I. Can't. Wait.... yeah...