Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Curmudgeon writes

Endless loop
& flight delays


Turkey day was Thursday, but for me, the turkey's dropped in early and hung around through Cyber Monday.


I was to fly from FLL to TPA, a point to point trip of about one hour.

The flight was scheduled to leave FLL at 8:55 which means I needed to be at the terminal at 7:55. Because I knew Cheapskate parking would be packed, I left a little early to accommodate getting a space and then catching the shuttle to the terminal.

I checked to confirm that flight's ETD still was 8:55; it was not. Now it was 10:55, with an ETA in Tampa of 11:55 - call it midnight. BUT, checking Spirit's web site I read that even if a flight delay is posted the traveler must still report inas if the flight was on time - just in case the delay is shortened? Does that ever happen?

The Cheapskate lot was, as I anticipated, pretty full; I was directed to the Back 40 where I was ushered into a space for the flivver.

The shuttle was waiting at the stop,

So far not just "so far, s good," but "so far, so Tony-the-tiger great." FLL has its act together.

Since I had my boarding pass, I went straight to the TSA lines - which were moving along very nicely. After collecting my "stuff" and putting on my shoes, I made the  l_o_n_g  trek to my gate. (My gate always seems to farthest from where I came in.)

As I was making my way to TSA I heard the announcement that my flight now is delayed until 11:55, meaning I will - if there are no more delays - arrive at TPA at 1 a.m.

UNLIKE another airline that had me waiting for a much delayed flight, Spirit didn’t bother to make the wait easier. The other airline brought out soft drinks and junk food to mollify the masses; no so Spirit. Granted Spirit is a "cheap ticket" airline - as long as you don't have a bag or want a specific seat - but what it didn't do at FLL Wednesday night did not win it any friends.

To be fair, the trip from TPA to FLL went off on time and arrived on time. And TPA's TSA people allowed me to keep my shoes on. (Why one place and not another? Only the folks at TSA know.)


I got a call from my "until December 31" Medicare Advantage provider.

It's recorded message/interactive voice response system asked me several questions, to which I was to answer with a number from 0 to 10.

I answered the first several questions and then I was asked if I would recommend the company to others. On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being highest, how would I rate my willingness to recommend the company.

I said ZERO.

The response: I didn't understand; let me repeat the question. And it did.

Again my answer was zero, but this time I pressed the "0" key on the phone's dial pad.

The response: I didn't understand; let me repeat the question. And it did.

Same answer, same response.

After the fourth time I realized the machine would continue to ask the question until it got the response it wanted.

In truth, the company's service was "pretty good." The reason I will not recommend it is because of something clients don't learn until it's too late. The company's Primary Care Physicians (PCP) are "capitated."

The company has a wealth of specialists listed in its practitioners' guide, but they are not available to all insureds.

"Capitation" means that a particular PCP is allowed to refer only to a very few selected specialists, even if other specialists are on the company's list.

I tried to get the company to tell me which PCPs could refer me to my specialists, which I identified for the company, but I was told to ask the PCPs.

There are 108 PCPs listed for my county. Did the company really expect me to call each of the 108 PCPs and ask: "Can you refer me to Specialist A and Specialist B?"

Not my job.

For kicks I surveyed seven competitors; only one had "capitated" PCPs and that one told me it had a list of non-capitated PCPs that it would provide on request.

If you're looking for a Medicare Advantage plan - they are wonderful things - and if you have specialists you want to keep, ASK all prospective PCPs if they can/will refer you to those specialists.

Also ask about the referral process. With the company I am leaving, the request went from the PCP to the company for approval. With most other companies, the PCP makes the referral and notifies the company that a referral has been made - this greatly expedites the patient being seen by the specialist.

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