Digital blues

The experiences of the last few weeks make me think of the popular German phrase: “Why make it simple when you can make it complicated?”

While the rest of the world is busy with going digital, there seem to be some pockets of resistance in Germany. My health insurance company – let’s call it Medisure – likes to present itself as efficient and customer-friendly. I was pleasantly surprised when they introduced an app that allowed you to photograph a multi-page bill and send it to them for processing, instead of filling out an ancient-looking form by hand with information they mostly already had. A year later, they added the feature of an email telling me a message had been received in the app. Which cryptically means the app can also show what reimbursement they just granted. Why the app can’t send me a notification, I don’t know. They will probably tell me it has something to do with data security.

My wife is covered by the same company, but as a civil servant also by the state where she is employed, in the form of a supplementary insurance called “Beihilfe”. We downloaded the app for her and did the registration. Only then did I realise how complicated the insurance company’s digital services are set up. The homepage is an overwhelming collection of marketing and general information designed to attract new customers. Customers have to search for a long time until they find an icon for “forms and online services” tucked away in the margin of the page, only to be confronted with endless lists of options for contracts, emergencies or making an appointment for advice. You can apply for anything except medical expenses – for that you need the app.

If you click on the image of a smartphone on the homepage – where else? – you land on a page called my-Medisure, which announces itself as a portal to online services. However, all you find there is a link to register for my-health without any further explanation. If you didn’t know that this is the name of the app you need, you might be a little confused, especially since the only other thing on the page is a box that says “More services under construction”.

The undaunted customer who clicks on the link lands on a page called my-health-services, where he/she is greeted by name (!) and reads that his/her mail address is registered as CGM LIFE KEY and is then asked to enter his/her password. A letter from Medisure had previously proudly announced that my wife’s CGM LIFE customer number was ….. And her SUPER PIN was ……, without any information about who or what CGM LIFE is or where she could use this vital information.

After several frustrating attempts to register her and unanswered emails, I called the hotline. After what felt like years later, a friendly employee got back to me who explained in detail that my wife cannot use the same email address for Medisure and the supplemental insurance for data security reasons. Supposedly, both organisations use the mail address as an ID and get terribly confused when corresponding with each other about the same person….

So I deleted my wife’s account with Medisure and went through the same process to sign her up again with a new mail address, only to get stuck in the same place. This time the error message “This should not have happened” appeared with…. the hotline number. After being put on hold endlessly, a friendly lady listened sympathetically, confirmed that my wife was registered with my-Medisure but not with my-health, and said she would contact technical services and call back in a day. Two weeks later, we received an email saying, “Unfortunately, her registration ended up in an upgrade error, so registration was not possible. The case is now in development. Until further notice, please use the alternative submission options, preferably the online claim form, at the following link…”

We are still waiting.

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