“Classical Gas”



As I write this in the kitchen of our Pittsburgh apartment I hear “Classical Gas” playing over and over in the living room. It’s the music Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Central New York plays while you’re waiting on the phone.

Da, da, da, da dah. The classic opening notes play over and over.

Waiting. That’s what we’ve been doing since December when Joe visited a vein clinic while we were in da’Burgh visiting family. The plan was to get those varicose veins taken care of and then head south in the motorhome for the winter.

Quick catch up. The vein doc grounded Joe from driving long hours in the motorhome until he could fix the veins. A blood clot could form and go to his heart, the doc said.

Da, da, da, da dah. “Thank you for holding. Please stay on the line for the next available representative.”

Even though two docs say Joe needs the minor surgery, the insurance company forces patients to wear a compression stocking for 12 weeks before the company will approve surgery.

The 12 weeks was up Feb. 27. Joe sees the doc to schedule surgery. Not so fast. The nurse tells us the insurance company will take four to six weeks to get approval for a minor surgery that could have been done three months ago.

Joe calls the insurance company the next morning and immediately is put in hold hell.

Da, da, da, da dah. The first three bars of the music plays. Again.

I learned to play “Classical Gas” on the guitar in high school. It was the height of my guitar training. I was proud of myself for learning to play it. I’m beginning to hate this song.

A representative comes on the line. Joe explains our plight. We have places to go, people to see, volunteering to do. Can Blue Cross expedite the approval process?

Nope, the representative says firmly. You have to wait four to six weeks before we will approve it.

May I speak with your supervisor? he asks politely. He’s more polite than I would have been. I’ve been known to become “Mrs. Hannagan” my Hyde personality when I get frustrated with annoying clerks.

The music comes back on. “Please continue to hold. We will be with you momentarily.”

The moments stretch out to minutes, tick on to quarters of an hour.

The supervisor comes on the phone. You need all the diagnosis codes before we can approve anything, she says. An obvious ploy to get this annoying customer off the phone.

“I have those,” says Joe as she continues to speak over him. “I got them from the doctor to expedite the process,” he says, again very politely.

Da, da, da, da dah. More music as this rep speaks to HER boss.

You’d think they’d allow the rest of the song to play as long as you have to wait. Or maybe switch up songs to something more fun. “Best Day of My Life” by the American Authors comes to mind.

The supervisor returns to the line.

The insurance company can expedite the process, she says. But, you can’t give us the diagnosis codes. We can only take them from the doctor’s office.

Forty-five minutes, and two representatives later, Joe is closer to getting approval for surgery.

He calls the vein clinic where he gets a person on the phone right away. We’re sorry the person who submits information to the insurance company won’t be in until Monday.

I wonder what music the vein clinic’s telephone system will play?