How long are you willing to wait on hold before you simply hang up?  Most people lose their patience after several minutes.  The more determined may stay on for an hour or longer.  Insurance company telephone hold times have increased dramatically over the past year, with some consumers reporting hold times of six hours or more during “peak” times.

So who wins when consumers say, “To heck with it!  I’ll just pay the bill!” or “I’ll have to go ahead without getting pre-certified.” or “I’ll have to hope that it’s covered!” or “I need that prescription, and I can’t wait any longer!”?  When unfair hurdles are placed in the paths of consumers, individuals and families are denied the full scope of their care.  And when consumers cannot utilize their insurance, insurers profit.

If the federal government sincerely wants Americans to have access to quality healthcare for an affordable price, it must realize that insurer stall tactics, including telephone hold times and pre-certification delays, put consumers’ care in jeopardy.  The time that individuals must spend on the phone to get answers from their insurance companies makes successfully utilizing the full benefits of their policies unnecessarily difficult if not impossible.

The shortest hold times, most often, are experienced by people looking to purchase new policies.  When insurers are in position to sell a new policy, they are much more efficient.  The government must hold insurers to similar efficiencies when existing consumers call.

The best policy is transparency, affordability, and ease of use.  A policy that cannot be fully utilized is useless.