Call Your Blue Cross Daily

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Here is my story dealing with the ridiculousness that has been the Affordable Care Act and Blue Cross Blue Shield’s implementation: 

On December 20, 2013 I signed me and my wife up for healthcare coverage on the Marketplace website at healthcare.gov. After going through a questionnaire, I was brought to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois’ website to actually purchase my health coverage.  For several days after that, I started getting emails about my upcoming coverage as well as even a phone call to get more information about me and my medical needs.  So far, so good.

When January 1 rolled around, my coverage was supposed to go into effect. My wife and I received our health coverage cards and we assumed everything was processed. However, I noticed that the money was never actually withdrawn from my account. I first tried paying online, because the website would not let me make a payment. Every time it just said a generic error message when I hit submit for the payment. Finally, I called. The rep I spoke to was very polite, took my information, waived the fee normally processed for a phone call payment (Which is an absolutely ridiculous notion anyways) and gave me a confirmation number for the payment. Everything was resolved we thought.

Obviously, it wasn’t.  A day or two later my wife tried to use the card to pick up a prescription at Walgreens.  When they tried to process it, they were unable to access our coverage.  The people at Walgreens, who were very helpful, called up BCBSIL.  After arguing with them for a few minutes (Excerpt of which include: “They have a card. I am holding it right now!”), they finally turned back to my wife and explained that a lot of accounts that have been purchased through the Marketplace were not active. My wife went back several days later, went through the same steps and again, left empty handed.

I checked my personal bank account a saw that they had not ever withdrawn the money.  Frustrated, I emailed them January 3.  I also tried calling, but the wait times were over an hour long. One time I waited for an hour and half before I had to give up.  Days went by, and no money was withdrawn. I emailed again on Jan 6 and Jan 7. Finally, on Jan 9 I received an email back. This is what it said:

Dear Aaron,

I have forwarded your request to the appropriate department for further review. You will be notified once the outcome has been determined.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our customer service department at the toll-free number on the back of your Blue Cross Blue Shield identification card or via the Message Center on Blue Access.

Charlie S.

As you can tell, this wasn’t very helpful. But don’t worry, because a few days later, I received this email:

Dear Aaron,

While researching the information on your account we noticed that you have already reached us by phone. If we can offer you any additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us back. 

Our goal is to serve your health insurance needs through all of life’s changes. If you have any additional questions, our team stands ready to help.

Sincerely,

Toni W.

My jaw pretty much dropped at the absolute lack of assistance that was being offered. So I called them and to my absolute amazement, I got through.  I talked to a very nice rep again and made another payment. She assured me that the other payment would be cancelled and this one would be processed in a matter of 48 hours. Again, I received a confirmation number. Feeling satisfied, I hung up.

Then, on Jan 15 I received the following email from BCBSIL:

Dear Aaron,

I have forwarded your request to the appropriate department for further review. You will be notified once the outcome has been determined.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our customer service department at the toll-free number on the back of your Blue Cross Blue Shield identification card or via the Message Center on Blue Access.

Kathy R.

I replied with my own email explaining that my issue has been going on way to long. I let my frustrating be known in my tone this time.  I was at the end of my rope. I wanted to scream. So what did I do? I did as all of us do when we want to complain to the whole world: I turned to Twitter. This was my post:

Five emails, multiple phone calls, confirmation numbers of payment and I still dont have health insurance. @BCBSIL is failing left and right

About an hour later, I got a message from the BCBSIL Twitter account asking me to send them a Direct Message for identity verification. I did and they told me they were looking into it.  For three days, I didn’t hear anything.  Finally, I Direct Messaged them again.  I summarized, again, my whole story and this was the response:

I’ve been in contact with our membership area- it doesn’t look as though your payment posted. I am following up again this morning.

Pretty much more of the same.  No answers, just dodging and offering no real advice or results. I sent another email on Jan 23.  I, again, explained my whole story, which included my reference numbers for the payments I made. The letter was longer than the others and ended with a request that they call me directly.

Despite the frustration, my wife tried going back to Walgreens.

Of course, I heard no response.  Calling the phone number was still no help due to the wait times. Also, the previous phone calls didn’t really fix anything.  So I turned back to Twitter because it was the only place I was able to contact anyone.  On Jan 27 I tweeted them again, and after going back and forth, this is how it ended:

You’ve done what you should. We can understand your frustration. We’re sorry it’s taking so long

Frustrated. Empty-Handed. Lost. What else could go wrong? How else could I seemingly not be helped? In what way could BCBSIL show its ineptitude?

Then the phone rang. BCBSIL was calling me to remind me that my premium had yet to be paid because it was due by the end of the month.

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