Negotiating with bureaucracies

I was talking to a friend on the phone today who’s getting shafted by her health insurance company for bogus costs on an annual physical. Like so often happens, they’re procrastinating on the payment because it’s miscoded (which would be her problem because why?). As usual, though, they’re being difficult about correcting this and they won’t answer questions.

One of the most important things I learned for dealing with insurance companies (or other bureaucracies, for that matter) was to describe the problem and then ask “Do you have the power to say ‘yes’ to this?” Very often, you’ll find that the person doesn’t and their only function in life is to wear you down or otherwise buffer you. You can then say “I need to talk to someone who does” and sooner or later you’ll get to someone who has this power. You may or may not be successful in your quest at that point, but you’ll at least be talking to someone who’s not paid to be a waste of your life.

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