Skip me to the front of the line

It started as just one more follow-up phone call to our insurance company to determine the status of my husband’s request to have a chemotherapy drug approved for coverage.  After engaging in yet another conversation that left the rep and myself frustrated and no further ahead than when we’d started, she asked if I my husband wanted to use his once in a life-time benefit of having his application moved to the top of the list of applications to be processed.

Now keep in mind this was not my first call to the insurance company regarding this matter.  It was, however, the first time this option was mentioned.  We weren’t uninformed. One, if not both of us always made a point to read through the benefit information booklets when they arrived. And yet, here we were. Neither of us knowing that this particular benefit even existed.

Quick summary: My husband had his first seizure at the end of January. It was now the middle of April and he was visibly declining. We were jumping through hoops as fast as we could.  Needless to say, we were thrilled to fast track the process and get on with the business of treating his cancer.   Had we known this option existed that application would have skipped along its merry way to the front of the line the moment it had been submitted and received.

Was it a coincidence that this exceptionally valuable piece of information was being offered up after the rep and I had come to an impasse?  Nearing the end of my patience and no doubt out of frustration I’d begun speaking plainly saying things like… ‘for someone diagnosed with a potentially terminal illness this process is ludicrous and needs to be changed’, ‘ the company may be saving money by dragging things out but it is no doubt costing lives’, and  ‘I will be writing up a summary of this experience for the benefit’s committee at my husband’s place of work (a major client).’ I closed off with ‘Truly, this is unacceptable’ and it was. Regardless, of what it was that jogged that piece of information loose in the representative’s mind, I will always be grateful that it happened.

I’ve often wondered why I didn’t know this option existed. It’s made me far more diligent about knowing what is and isn’t included in my benefits plan. It’s also reinforced my understanding that stepping out of my comfort zone and speaking my truth, especially if its difficult, can help others shift from a place of sticking to their prescribed scripts to a space of problem solving.

I’m no longer with that insurance company.  Spousal benefits end both in divorce and death.  Today, in addition to my regular health benefits, I have critical illness insurance through SunLife. Before purchasing I read through all of the plan’s features pretty carefully. Instead of a skip to the front of the line benefit, I have, what Sunlife calls, unlimited access to Best Doctors services.  Having access to experts who know more than I do and are there to guide me should I become ill is more in sync with how I live my life.  For me, it was the right choice.

Lessons Learned

  1. Speak plainly and call it what it is (without cursing). Focus on the outcome you need and enlist the help of others when you come to an impasse.
  2. Knowledge is power and the better informed we are about our health insurance plans the smoother our lives, even in crisis will be. Buying insurance is supposed to bring us peace of mind.  Make sure yours does just that.

Stay well, be informed, and stay safe,

Till next time,


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