If you are like most people, you have called your insurance provider with a question, been put on hold, and finally reached a representative only to discover you did not have all the necessary documents in front of you.

It can be easier. Below are some tips to help you get the best results from your phone calls. Remember: If you have questions about your insurance coverage, whether you have Original Medicare or get your benefits through a Medicare Advantage Plan (such as an HMO or PPO), you have the right to get answers.

Before you pick up the phone to call the insurance company, either on your own behalf or on behalf of a loved one, make sure you have carefully read all the documents you want to discuss. Make sure you have access to the following information:

  • the insured person’s birth date
  • insurance policy number and social security number
  • name and address of organization that sent the bill
  • total amount of the bill
  • diagnosis code on the bill
  • the Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) from Medicare or the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from your Medicare Advantage Plan, if you are questioning an insurance payment
  • a list of your questions

Once you are on the phone:

  • Always write down the name and telephone extension of the person handling your phone call. If someone is unwilling or unable to help you, ask to speak to the supervisor.
  • Take good notes, including the date of the call and the information you were given, including what you were told would be done or you should do.
  • Be patient, since you will probably spend some time navigating automated telephone menus and waiting on hold.

If the insurance representative asks you to submit additional information:

  • Send it right away!
  • Keep a copy of anything you send.