Heather the Human Shield

I just wanted to comment/elaborate/etc on a post made by the recent post by theDrugMonkey about the “Heather” of insurance companies.
For all of those too lazy or stupid to click the link above and read DrugMonkey’s post, “Heather” (as he called it, so they shall all be dubbed “Heather”) is the person on the other end of the phone with the insurance company who doesn’t realize that shes riding an emotional atomic bomb down upon the healthcare system. She usually has a nice voice, and has been working for Satan a whole 2 days. She has no idea about the perils of health care nor that her employer managed to get about 4.5 billion ID cards issued with the wrong group number.
I, like the DM, feel horrible for these people. They are the human shields of an industry who cannot help but piss on their own shoes while shitting on all of the people who make up their paycheck. They sound happy on the phone, but you know after a few months of being screamed at by doctors and pharmacist (over something they did not setup, have no control over, and really have no say in to make it better) they stare down at the empty bottle of burbon and wonder why in the fuck do they put up with this abuse. They then look at their kids and realize they are taking one for the team so their kid could have a good life. They refuse to go on welfare or fake a work comp or disability like everyone does.
So it pains me to be upset when I hear Heather’s voice on the other end. I know its not her fault that her employer is retarded, or that the wrong ID number got printed on the card. I know that if she ran the world everything would probably work smoothly. Shes there to pay her rent and buy herself food. She is probably going to college or basically cant get a job anywhere else. Here we are screaming at them for something that they have absolutely no control over just to vent our frustration. Are we any better than those asshole doctors who scream at us because expensive-drug-x is $900?
So next time you’re all fired up about WellCare not having the right ID number, and you hear Healthers voice on the other end, think of this post and realize that its not Heathers fault. She’s there to do a job much like you are and probably goes home and rags on pharmacists like I ran on Drug Reps.
(Yeah, I realize this post isn’t full of hate, bad words, sexual talk or anything like that. It just sorta struck a nerve that I’m sure lives deep down within all pharmacists. I’ll try better next time. Fuck insurance companies and drug reps..There.. All better.. :-) )

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8 Comments

  1. just a tech says:

    No, I agree. I try very hard to keep it friendly and polite, because the stupid stuff is not their fault. Much in the same way it is not my fault the patient’s doctor hasn’t called back, which I certainly don’t appreciate being yelled at for. And really, most of the ‘Heathers’ I’ve spoken to are reasonably competent and get me what I need and on my way as soon as they can.
    Now the customer rep who couldn’t get why a patient needed 2 strengths of a drug to make a strength it doesn’t come in even though I’ve slowly and carefully explained it 4 times…

  2. RJS says:

    I had a moment of weakness this past Saturday night when I called the hospital from whence 4 prescriptions had come. The person answering the phones was just an operator and had no access to patient records. I let the irritation in my voice slip through and she informed me that I was “very rude and that there was nothing she could do” about it.
    (Your rant about doctors signatures is appropriate exactly here.)
    Patient didn’t know who it was, his wife and son didn’t know either, and so on. Script was written on a hospital blank. Hooray.
    I hung up instead of tearing her a new one, because, yes, I know it’s not her fault and that she’s entitled to defend herself from the assholes of the world like me. But Jesus Christ, every fucking doctor in your whole fucking hospital equates “Print name” with “Wipe ass here.” And since you’re a representative of the hospital, you’re going to get some of my boiling over irritation. Even though you’re not at fault.
    Trust me, deary, if it were the doctor, his ears would be bleeding by the time I’m done with him. And he’d probably feel about two feet tall.
    It might not have been so goddamned angry if it hadn’t been that this was the fourth person that night with illegible signatures on hospitals blanks written by doctors at the same goddamned hospital. It’s a systemic problem there. I wonder if regular ass-beatings for the worst offenders would help…

  3. Stenoslave says:

    This is very true for anyone in ‘customer service’ jobs. Whether a waitress who brings your eggs sunny side up when you ordered scrambled, or Heather who’s just doing her job – the issue isn’t their fault and venting on them doesn’t solve any problems.
    Great post AP. :)

  4. TheCookieMaker says:

    I just have to say that I work for one of the big insurance companies. and I fit the profile of Heather except I have been working there for a year. and I have to say that I love to talk to Pharmacies. I even like talking to Doctors on occasion. Pharmacists are really nice compared to Doctors. What happened that Doctors only ended up with 16 hours in their day when the rest of us get 24. because I have never met a doctor who did not want everything given to him yesterday or sooner. and they get upset when you ask for their Tax Id # because they have to go and find it. What I really dislike is talking to the Members themselves. You would think I had called their mother a dirty name by asking them for their ID # or that I was going to laugh at them when I ask for their birth date. I personally don’t care if you are 27 or 73. then they all assume that I have a button on my screen that says “make it right” There is nothing that I can do when you were disenrolled from the plan because you decided not to pay your premium for a couple months and then are shocked when you have to pay full price for your prescriptions. next time pay attention and no matter how much you complain we are not going to add levitra to the formulary for your plan when your doctor can’t give us a valid reason for you needing it. No, I actually think that Pharmacists and Pharm Tech’s are the nicest people who call in. I breathe a breath of fresh air when a pharmacy calls in. they don’t ever complain about giving the NPI or the NABP # they understand when I tell them that there is a coverage gap in the members plan and they now have to pay the full price. they generally know what they can ask for an override for and don’t even bother calling in if a person is asking for a refill on the hydrocodone/apap when they got a month supply 10 days ago. (that same day the member will call us and complain). Also when I have had to call a pharmacy to find out why one of our members is being charged full price for a prescription that we don’t show was submitted to us. The pharm techs are always very polite when they explain that the member didn’t have their id card, and are always happy to rerun the claim when I provide the customers id #. I would like to thank you pharmacists and your techs for the great job you do in bringing a bit of sunshine to my day.

  5. I try to remember to be kind to the Heathers (and even the anti-Heathers)of insurance companies. I’m sure I, like the rest of us, could do a better job.
    I find that I don’t get angry at them over retarded rejections and plan limits. What usually sets me off is when I know that there is a solution to my problem, but the person on the other end doesn’t know what the hell he/she is doing.
    Sometimes, I’ll call asking for some sort of override to have one person tell me they can’t do it. Then, I’ll call back 2 minutes later and reach another person who puts the claim through in 20 seconds.
    Overall though, I would say I’m as pleasant on the phone with insurance companies as I am with anyone else.

  6. Rich Cohen says:

    I only get pissed when the “Heather” at the other end of the phone has an accent from India. Give me a break! Pick some other name to give me.

  7. CSR - Stuck in Hell says:

    I also work for a large PBM/Insurance Company, one of which has drawn the ire of the AP on numerous occassions, Express Scripts.
    I just wanted to say nice blog on this issue… most of us rep’s do the best we can with what we are given, the only reason we get irritated ever is because our employers watn to save as much cash as they can, so instead of hiring a appropriate amount of people to work the position, they always leave us understaffed and constantly busy. Like the other rep said, dealing with Patients and/or Doctors tend to be the worst… or the ones where god forbid the husband or wife is DATING or MARRIED to a Doctor… then you get the worst of both worlds.
    Rarley do I ever have a problem with a pharmacist, unless they cannot speak English and cannot convey to me clearly what they would like me to help them with… all in all, I’ll take a phone call from a Pharmacist and help them happily, compared to alot of the other types of phone calls we have to deal with.

  8. Joanie says:

    I know what it’s like to be a “Heather”, every day I get abused for a little over $1.00/call (Which since I have no hourly wage is my only income) because of people/situations I have absolutely no control of, and the only comfort I have are the 2-3 people a week who are angry at the situation but are understanding enough to not blame me for it. Thank the Lord Almighty for these people and my friends otherwise I would have crawled into a bottle years ago///

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