Today, we gather information from the Internet, newspapers, magazines and other periodicals. Typically, we just reach for the telephone. There are, however, some contemporary challenges that come with using this venerable device. Whether we are calling about insurance coverage (health or property and casualty), credit card information (stolen cards, limits and payments) or just to make an appointment with a physician, we frequently get caught in "voice mail hell." (I'm sure there are many other adjectives that could be used for this, but we need to keep it printable!).
Anyway, frustration is an every-day reality when you are unable to speak with a "live human being" about a problem and instead get tangled up in one of those labyrinthine voice-mail menus. That common frustration and resentment is magnified when it is a older person trying to get details about their medical coverage for a particular test or just renewing a prescription.
I recently had this experience with my 89-year-old father-in-law.
The phone rang and it was Dad, who was in a state of alarm and confusion. It was a call for help. He had been trying to reach the outpatient department of a local hospital to schedule a CAT scan. The woman scheduling the appointments checked Dad's records to verify his insurance coverage and then proceeded to tell him that he had no medical coverage.
Dad took out his insurance card from his wallet and called the member services number … and then it happened. The poor man was made to endure 20 minutes in voice-mail hell. He struggled, pressing every number he could in a vain effort to reach a "live person" who might be able to provide assistance. Finally he just hung up in total exasperation. That's when I got the call for help.