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A Look Inside
There's more to this business that we usually talk about…

It was getting pretty late in the day and most of the people in the office had already gone home when I heard the telephone for our main line ringing out at the reception desk. I thought I'd pick it up rather than letting it go to message.

There was a lady on the line. Very polite and speaking quite reasonably. But I could tell that she was about a millimetre from losing it.

It really wasn't a very unusual story she told me - I've been there myself and so have a lot of other people: the job, the home, the commute, two kids, the call from the school that one of them is sick and has a temperature and threw up in Social Studies.

But hers was a family like so many others. Just starting out, living right on the edge, barely getting by, with not too much left at the end of the month and stretched almost to the limit.

She left work, took the bus, picked up her child and - thank goodness - got in to see the doctor almost right away. Then the drug store with an expensive prescription and - no go. The pharmacy computer wouldn't accept her drug plan. She didn't have enough cash with her and not enough room on her credit card. And she couldn't hang around the store with a sick child in tow.

The lady was at her limit.

Yes, she was one of "ours." She was covered under her drug plan at work. Obviously, there was some kind of mix-up - I don't even remember what it was, some clerical error, some oversight, whatever. But I knew it was something we could fix.

"Which drug store?" I asked her, and she told me. "Do they have the prescription there?" She told me they did. "Okay," I told her. "Hang tight and we'll take care of this right now."

I called the drug store, got hold of the pharmacist, gave him my credit card information and asked him to have the prescription delivered by taxi right away, within the hour. I figured we could fix the paperwork later.

And that's what happened.

It was a small enough thing to do and I was just glad that I picked up the phone that evening. But it's also a part of the benefits management business that we don't usually talk about and that a lot of people just never see.

There are lots of other examples. Like when we pay out a life insurance claim - a sad time for all concerned. Our underwriter could just drop the cheque in the mail and be done with it, but we always instruct them to send the cheque to our office.

Then we hand deliver it.

We don't technically have to do that and - believe me - it's not fun. But we feel we need to complete the circle, that we have to do it right. It puts a human face on our work and it also lets us make sure that all the t's have been crossed and all the i's dotted.

I think that this approach to how we do our business is what makes us really shine. I can tell you that it is also what makes the work really worthwhile for all of us here.

And, on that note, and with the Christmas season just around the corner, I'd like to wish all of our friends a very happy holiday and every success in the New Year.

God bless. Take care.

If there is a topic that you would like me to write about,
please email me at billz@callerygroup.com.

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The Buzz Bits
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Look beyond plan design to control benefit costs

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