October 15th, 2007
|04:22 pm - just when you thought it was safe to pick up a prescription|
Why, in the name of time, when we have mp3s and Digital Surround Sound and cell phones that will not only play music and movies but will damn near go out and get you some popcorn, does all telephone hold music still sound like it's being played from badly worn 8-track tape that has been sitting on top of an electromagnet? Complete with drop-out gaps in the sound when the track changes over. Argh.
Yes, I've been on hold this afternoon, after attempting to pick up a prescription. When last we left the saga of my glacial retirement processing and related insurance woes, we thought we had come to a denouement, and a relatively happy one at that. In the eleventh hour of the last possible day (27 September 2007), after much prodding, including the theoretical aid of a US Representative, OPM had finally coughed up the paperwork saying my insurance was indeed being continued, retroactive to 5 January 2006. With flowers springing up around my feet and birds flittering about the air above my head, I merrily skipped off into the sunset.
Or rather, breathed a huge sigh of relief when the premium differential for the last 18 months was direct-deposited into my account and I could actually afford my rent. In any case I carefully filed the related paperwork and hoped it would be a long, long time before I had to speak to OPM again. Ha.
When I showed up at the pharmacy today, they said my coverage had been cancelled, back in September. Yes, I said, that would be the temporary continued coverage while they were processing my retirement claim - but since my benefits statement was issued, my coverage as a retiree has been instated, retroactive to January 2006. Not according to anything they could find, so I pulled out my card and the pharmacy tech called the insurance company. Nope, nothing. I needed to contact a Benefits Coordinator at [number] to find out what the problem was. Ooookay. Damn good thing I try to plan these things a little bit and didn't need the meds right now this instant.
So I come home, and drag out all the paperwork, and get on the phone with the national pharmacy benefits coordinator for my insurance company. Nope, nothing in their system except that my policy was terminated. I need to call the local office of my insurance company and see what they have to say. I get the number, and call it, and after some more wavery hold music reach - wait, I forgot an important annoyance: both offices have switched to that type of phone tree where you have to say what you want instead of picking numbers on the keypad. In fact, they make you say your claim numbers as well. Because of some quirk of accent or speech pattern, these systems find my efforts completely unintelligible. So before the scratchy soft jazz, insert in both cases an extra five minutes of "I'm sorry, but I didn't quite get that. Please say your ten digit member number again, beginning with the letter R," until it finally gently scolds me that it still can't tell what I'm saying and reluctantly relinquishes me to a human being.
So, back to the actual people portion of this charade. National office has no idea, local office has also no idea, just the record of termination of coverage. I manage not to scream, and I even apologize for inadvertently snapping during the requisite repetition of all of my personal data, again. I also apologize for bursting into hysterical laughter when the local rep tells me my next step is contacting the Office of Personnel Management. Yeah, the people I'd been badgering for the last year-plus to get this matter taken care of; it was either laughter or tears.
This called for strong measures, and luckily I had already made some fortifying coffee. A few deep breaths later I dialed the number for OPM. They at least let me enter my data via the keypad, and a surprisingly short amount of time later - they only got to tell me my call was important to them twice! - I was speaking with *mumble* at extension [number]. I noted the extension, rehearsed my personal data yet again, and was reassured that I was listed as covered - the insurance company had probably not yet been informed of my status as a covered retiree, while they had been notified of my TCC termination. Yes, thank you, but I'm not the one who needs to be convinced. How do we get this updated information to the insurance company? I wait on hold some more. Then:
She's going to file a report to the benefits coordinator she works for, who will look into it. Can I give it until the end of the week? Not having much of a choice, I say sure. I do have that much medication left, but that's the extent of it. However the pharmacy folks have promised they will spot me some hold-over if it takes longer. Which is good, because OPM's track record for dealing with me in a timely manner is about a Z-minus at this point. I'm getting ready to invent some new letters, just in case. You may have guessed that it was the benefits coordinators we were leaning on earlier to get this thing processed in the first place, and they managed to stretch a three-month process into 18.
So, that's how I spent my afternoon. I suppose I should be grateful I'm not on hold still. The call to OPM only took 9m18s, which is a definite speed record.
Bleah. You have my sympathies, if not my empathies. Hang in there.