Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Moronic Carrier Tricks: The Aetna Story

I tend to write a fair amount of individual medical. For one thing, a lot of agents in my area have given up on this market; for another, I actually enjoy the one-on-one nature of this type of business (as opposed to group).
There are a number of carriers available, but of course the market is dominated by one or two. As a firm believer in competition, I'm always on the lookout for alternatives. Recently, I've started using Humana and Aetna in an effort to broaden the marketplace. Unfortunately, I've had to (at least temporarily) curtail placing business with Humana, so I had high hopes for Aetna.
Which have been dashed to little, teensy weensy pieces:
First, despite their insistence on how well they do online applications, I can rarely get their link to work. I have clients sitting in front of their monitors, waiting patiently for the page to load, only to see the page time out. And time out. And time out.
So back to paper apps, which are cumbersome and add even more processing time. Not to mention additional, stupid procedures. Recently, two brothers and a sister applied for major medical this way. We tried, in vain, to get the online app to work. When that proved futile, we switched to paper. I had their father (who's initially paying the premium) write one check for all three, hoping to at least save some effort.
This is what I received:
"We will need once [sic] check for each applicant because technically each application is it's [sic] own separate policy, and will have it's [sic] own ID #"
To which I reply:
So. Freakin'. What?!
What possible difference does it make that there's one check for each application, when the only thing that matters is that they got the money?
In another case, we were finally (and after much technical support) able to get the online application to work. The underwriter then decided that he (she? it?) needed additional info, and tried to call my client. Unfortunately, they were calling his home number during business hours; when I called to suggest that they use his business number (which was on the application), they countered that he should call them back at their special, super duper toll free hotline. Here's how that worked out:
"Boy have I been having a hard time with Aetna. They do not answer or return calls. But finally, I got through. They want stuff faxed from [my] doctor--last three ... and last ... reading. The doctor is faxing it to them."
Why would a carrier offer a "streamlined" service which was itself so difficult?
Oh, I know: because they're...well, see the title of this post.
Needless to say, I won't be writing any more Aetna individual plans.
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