About this series: Our Duos have learned countless tips and tricks of the trade in our work supporting older adults and their caregivers. In these posts, we share our easy-to-follow guides for dealing with some of the most common aging navigation issues we encounter every day.
Thinking about calling your insurance provider can make anyone say “ugh, here we go!” and want to avoid the task entirely. But sometimes you just have to make the call to ask questions about your billing, medications, or benefits. Here are some of our Duos’ favorite tips and tricks to shift insurance calls from belly-churning to confident-can-do.
- Think about why you are calling your insurance and what information you hope to learn. Brainstorm the questions that you think you’ll need to ask to find out the information you’re looking for. Write these down (or type them out!) and leave room for responses so you can take notes during your call.
- Set aside at least one hour to make the call. While some insurance calls do not always last this long, it’s best to be over prepared.
- Make sure you know where your insurance cards are and have them easily accessible when you sit down to make the call. If you’re planning to ask questions related to a recent bill or your benefits, it helps to have this documentation ready as well.
Making The Call
- Make sure your phone is fully charged if you’re using a cordless or cellular phone. Adjust the volume to your level of comfort.
- Only call the member support number on the back of your insurance card. Why? Because sometimes scammers will leave voice messages or send emails pretending to be your insurance – the number on your card is the most reliable!
- Sharpen your pencil or grab a pen! You’ll want to take notes throughout your conversation to make sure all of the questions you prepared are answered.
- And just in case you have a bit of a wait before you get connected to a representative, we recommend having a book or puzzle nearby. If you know you’re going to be on hold for a bit, you might as well enjoy it!
While You’re On The Call
- Expect to go through a phone tree with your insurance (for example, press 1 for billing and press 2 for member services). If you ever feel lost or like you are not getting anywhere, press zero (sometimes multiple times) and you should be connected to an operator who can help.
- Insurance representatives may ask for information like your member identification number (found on your insurance card), address, birthday, or phone number. They use this information to make sure they’re talking to the right person - this is a great thing for your safety.
- You are always allowed to request that the representative explain things differently, speak more slowly or loudly, and to ask additional follow-up questions. Never feel like you have to leave your call without your questions answered.
- Ask for the representative's name or employee number for your records. If you’re calling about an order, approval, or requesting a summary of benefits it is helpful to ask for (and write down!) the date sent, tracking number, and expected date of arrival.
Calling your insurance is often a task we allow to slip to the bottom of our “To Do” list. But if you follow this guidance from our team, you should be ready and able to get the information and help you’re looking for. You’ve got this!