Working with Health Net is Worse Than Chemo — Part IV

In which Jay refuses to show, Larry is a disappointment, and Health Net’s Media Relations team stalls the press

In Part I, I set up a 2nd meeting with the VP of Customer Service at Health Net, my employer’s Health Insurance provider. In Part II, I invited CEO, Jay M. Gellert to that meeting. After Part III, I was informed that Larry would be taking over my case entirely — the 4th lead contact I’ve had in trying to resolve these issues.

I never heard back on my invitation to CEO, Jay M. Gellert. While I can’t say that I’m surprised, I am pleased that Larry Wong, VP of Customer Service, did call me at the exact time he was supposed to despite the heater in his office blowing on a warm Sacramento day. I only know this because maintenance arrived during our call to work on the problem.

At the start, Larry asked me if I was recording the call (I was recording without requesting permission because I got legal advice telling me that Texas only requires only unilateral authorization for call recording. California — where Larry is — is one of 11 states that has dual authorization). I explained that the reason I was recording was not to publish but because of Chemo Brain and the narcotics I’m on make it hard for me to remember full detailed conversations. He still told me that I didn’t have his permission. Could I have recorded anyway? Yes. (Federal law sides with unilateral authorization) But I don’t want to go to court to prove it AND I wanted to make progress. I turned off the recorder and proceeded.

As far as my case goes, he said they are still working on it. He had no real information for me on the level of progress they’ve made but told me that I would receive a certified or priority letter by the end of next week that tells me the final adjustments. He seemed to believe that everything was progressing smoothly but didn’t really have a way to prove to me that was the case. After our call (and the 6 months of work it’s taken me to get to this point) I do have faith that my situation will resolve properly.

While on that phone I had to explain to him, in full detail, again why I received care the Mayo Clinic. To me, that means that he has not actually spoken to Adria or Mike or Victor or Skye or any of other (maybe half dozen?) people at Health Net who I have explained that situation to already. More time I’m not getting back.

Now, on to the BIGGER picture stuff. How do we improve the customer service experience at Health Net as a whole? They provide a life-or-death service and we need to improve the process.

I asked him to tell me the 3 goals that he has for Health Net to improve customer service. On our last call together he agreed to dig into my case, run their process, and that two weeks would be enough time to do that. He said that they hadn’t finished the process of digging into my case so he didn’t have any goals for me at this time.

I then gave him my goals for Health Net and asked him to respond. My three goals were

  1. Reduce absolute average call time (‘handle time’ in industry jargon)by 25% in 2 years, by 50% in 5 years.
  2. Establish a problem resolution time-line, make it public and do your best to stick to that timeline. This timeline should be accompanied by a statemnet about how you will do your best to resolve issues according to the timeline. If you can’t you will inform the client why the timeline can’t be met and establish a new timeline.
  3. Reduce the number of “issue-related” calls by 25% in two years and by 50% in five years. After all, if my insurance company is doing their job right, I should never have to talk to them.

His response to this was, “I can tell you’ve put some thought into these, I’m not sure about the numbers but any Customer Service lead would think these goals are great.” I asked if he would commit to these goals. He wouldn’t. I asked if he would take these goals and adjust them to make them attainable for his company and come back to me with new goals. He wouldn’t. He said that they have a continuous improvement process that is always working to improve customer service. I asked what some of the things are that they are doing. he responded. “It’s our policy not to share details at that level.”

I told him he had a huge opportunity here. To be an example of a company that listens, and actually reacts. I told him that his customers, employees and shareholders would all love to know what their customer service goals and plans are.

“It’s our policy not to share details at that level.”

He told me I should be proud of my effort and that I’ve given him—a decision maker at a Fortune 500 company—a lot to think about. According to him my comments will help Health Net improve. “How are you going to improve?” I asked.

“It’s our policy not to share details at that level.”

I told him I was disappointed and that without anything specific from him I don’t believe they are actually going to make things better. If their continuous improvement process worked, customer service would be getting better over the last 3 years. Seems to me it’s getting worse.

“It’s our policy not to share details at that level.”

With that, I told him that since they are unable to commit to anything, the disappointment I now feel is going to be part of my story moving forward. A tremendous missed opportunity for them to set an example amongst insurance companies. He didn’t seem bothered by that.

That completed our hour together.

Meanwhile…

I have been working with a reporter at The Daily Dot to add a megaphone to my voice. The reporter reached out to Skye Davis for comment earlier in the week. He referred her to Health Net’s media relations guy, Brad Kieffer.

Two days ago they requested I fill out an Authorization form so they could talk about me with the reporter. I sent it back within an hour of receiving it. The form then had to be “processed” at Health Net for a day.

The reporter heard back from Brad shortly before my call with an “I’ll get in touch with you about this soon,” type message. Then, after my call, the reporter suddenly heard back from Brad. WHAT A COINCIDENCE!

Just more stall tactics from an industry that hopes its clients would just let them be incompetent in peace.