American Express v. Medicare (a.k.a. The Private Sector v. Bureaucracy

You’ve heard about government bureaucracies. You probably also know that many city, state, and federal government agencies are outsourcing many services to the private sector to save cost.

And you’ve no doubt encountered a government bureaucracy from time to time – whether it be the Department of Motor Vehicles, the court system, the IRS, etc. So most of us understand that most public-sector agencies are slow to provide service, provide mediocre service, are difficult to get hold of, and so on. But just in case you don’t or you need a reminder of how inefficient government is, here is an example.

A friend lost his wallet. He called MediCare to request a replacement Id card.  The automated voice response system told him his call would be handled by a human within 10 minutes. The woman who answered was pleasant and helpful. “You’ll have your new card in four to six weeks” she said.

My friend then called American Express to get a replacement card. They answered quickly. The woman found his record and told him, “You’ll have it tomorrow.”