Can Employee Refuse to Give Last Name?

  • Thread starter kyphysics
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  • #1
kyphysics
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This was weird.

Called my auto-insurance company today and spoke to someone about claims info. I needed to give my doctors and the representative over the phone refused to give me her last name. Yet, my doctor's office said they needed the full name of the claim handler (along with other info.) in order to bill them.

Still, she refused.

This has happened to me before when asknig a customer service person's full name by phone, but I never needed a last name before so I just thought ehhh, whatever. I sometimes ask a full name just so I know who I spoke with (in case there are two of the same people) and for records. But this time I actually needed it.

Any idea if this is legal for someone to do? How can you work for a giant company and be required to do business with people and refuse to give your last name as a claims adjuster?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
SW VandeCarr
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This is an interesting problem. Ordinarily I just ask for a first name. I can understand why someone in the position of this woman might not want to give her last name. In any case, you might ask her if she could provide her supervisor's name, a case number or an ID code. You could also ask that she provide contact information directly to your doctor's office.

I can't speak to the legalities of the situation
 
  • #3
Choppy
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The law of course is highly geographic, but I strongly suspect in most places there is no legal obligation for a customer service person to give out their personal information. Often, customer service people are the front line of a company against upset customers, not all of whom are calm, rational, respectful or otherwise stable. So you can imagine that not everyone is anxious let random strangers know who they are.

In your case, you can probably just ask how they normally solve issues like that. You can't be the first person who has to fil out that form.
 
  • #4
rootone
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Maybe you could give the claim handler the address of your doctor and then they can work it out between themselves?
 
  • #5
kyphysics
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Yeah it was very bizarre. The thing is, she's not customer service, but rather a person who holds a pretty significant role: claims adjuster. You're responsible for settling claims (sometimes in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars). Granted, my case is likely to be small, because I had a relatively minor auto accident with only moderate medical problems since (although the past 4-5 days have been particularly rough in the pain dept.). But, if you're the handler of a case like that and won't even give out your last name to complete a medical authorization form (doctor's office request so they can directly bill State Farm for my expenses), then how can you be competent to complete your job and serve State Farm clients?
I can understand how you wouldn't want to give your full name in case of a "crazy" customer, but at the same time your job requires you to assist the customer, which includes instances like this.

I ended up just taking what she'd give (first name only) and will see if my doctor's office will accept that or can contact her by phone themselves. The reason I didn't make a big fuss about it was that State Farm adjusters oddly work as a team. There's no one handler (at least at the beginning from what I can tell), but whoever first answers the phone in their department. Everyone has access to the same files. There are teams, so it's not literally hundreds of adjusters who can handle your file, but those teams are pretty big. I've spoken to like 4-5 different people before.

I don't think I'd recommend State Farm in terms of their claims process. It wasn't like this in the past. You just had one adjuster/claims handler. Now they have "teams" and it's just confusing, because you have to re-explain things very often (literally every time I call them) so that person knows the nuances of your case. I'd bet they worked out some mathematical formula that shows greater productivity if a team can handle a claim versus an individual adjuster - probably because more people can pick up the phone and respond at anyone time. But it also has drawbacks like each adjuster not really knowing your case as well as they could had it been one person assigned to it (like in the past).

Sorry the convo went off on a tangent. Just giving some interesting facts about State Farm claims in case anyone was curious. The main point is that I wasn't upset I was stalled, b/c I can just call again and very very likely I'd get somenoe else on the phone and could just ask their full name to put on the form.

But, still, it's a very interesting dilemma. I just figured a big company wouldn't have such "problems." I couldn't imagine a medical doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, etc. telling you: "Oh, I only give out my first name." o_O

I'd be thinking to myself: "No problem. I'll find someone else!"
 
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  • #6
kyphysics
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It occurred to me too just after writing that that there could be a conflict of interest high enough that it should be illegal to not give your last name.

Let me explain. I'm asking for it, because my doctor's office needs that info. to bill the insurance company directly. They need to bill them, obviously, because I'm seeking medical treatment related to an auto-accident. My personal health is dependent upon seeing a doctor.

If a person with State Farm stalls my medical treatment (which could harm me) by refusing to give me their last name, then perhaps they shouldn't be working there or perhaps a law should be made that if you're dealing with someone's health that you cannot stall a person's treatment because you don't want to give your last name as an accident medical claims handler.

Even though a medical claims handler is not a doctor, he or she is still dealing with business practices that would involve a person's medical treatment. That status should dictate what they're allowed and not allowed to do maybe, as opposed to some generic rule/law regarding privacy in a non-medical realm.

It was just a thought that popped up and makes me think I should write or call SF's customer service department. Seems like a legit issue and one in which workers shouldn't be allowed to stall a person's medical treatment. After all, the reason customers buy insurance like this to begin with is to ensure they are covered if they ever face an unfortunate auto accident (in this case, it wasn't even my fault as I was rear-ended by someone who couldn't break in time - but that's besides the point!).
It'd be interesting to see where the law stands on issues like this.

Just on the optics, alone, I could actually imagine insurance companies not wanting these issues and stories getting out that their customers who bought policies could not get prompt medical treatment due to adjusters not wanting to give their full names on med. authorization forms. That could look bad if someone ended up having treatment delayed, which resulted in some long-term medical problem that could have been prevented (say a permanent neck problem), due to a worker not giving a full name authorization. Insurance companies might have an interest in requiring their workers to give full names in order to work for them. They're private companies and can presumably requiring workers willing consent to do so in these cases as a requisite of the job. It could possibly protect the insurance companies from lawsuits too!

Kind of interesting huh?
 
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  • #7
Evo
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I do not see why she would have to give her last name, they are not billing her, in my experience, all they should need is your case number. Call the insurance agency and tell them of the doctor's request. I am sure they will get this taken care of.
 
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  • #8
kyphysics
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She doesn't have to technically, because State Farm can process med. authorization payments using their own forms, which wouldn't require it.

But, my own doctor's forms (med. authorization) have a box asking for the full name (at least, I think, because that's the impression the billing person gave me when she told me what to ask for). If we used my doctor's office forms over the State Farm forms (either would work), then they would ask the full name of the adjuster.

But, a third solution, as someone else posted above, was that I could just give my doctor's office staff SF's contact info. A claim number isn't enough, because I've tried that and they said they still need to establish other information. But I could have the two sides speak (leaving myself out of it) and they could verify my benefits and any other needed info.

I was just making a super picky criticism. Although, if my doctor's office really did need a full name somehow, I also still don't see why SF wouldn't just make it their hiring policy that no employee can delay a customer's medical treatment by not divulging their full name. I know if I worked as an adjuster, I wouldn't think it was out of line for SF to make that company policy.
 

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