Obamacare Is Moving Along, But One Guy Says He's Paying for Insurance He's Not Getting

Categories: Whatever

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Blue Cross Blue Shield

Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield has lovely hold music. Just ask Fred Rhodes. He and his wife have taken turns listening to it since they found out that, despite having enrolled and paid for their new health insurance in December, they still aren't in the system.

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, Rhodes -- a Houston lawyer who runs an independent practice and thus has to buy health insurance -- went on healthcare.gov and signed up for a plan on December 21. He paid the premium on December 27 and got new insurance cards for himself and his wife right around the first of the year, he said.

Then his wife tried to get a flu shot from the Randall's pharmacy last week and was told by the pharmacist she wasn't showing up in the Blue Cross Blue Shield system. Rhodes tried to fill a prescription on Monday at a different pharmacy and was told the same thing. "I thought I knew how to do this, but obviously I was wrong," he said.

Fun fact: After being on hold for three hours, Blue Cross Blue Shield's automated system will hang up on you, according to Rhodes. We were curious about the holding experience and tried the same customer service line Rhodes has been using on Wednesday afternoon.

Jaunty yet soothing guitar music let us know we were still on hold after we were advised that the estimated wait time to speak to a real person was "in excess of 60 minutes." The automated voice non-person informed us that Blue Cross Blue Shield is working to implement the new regulations of the Affordable Care Act as quickly as possible. The automated system might have then asked us to have patience, but we could have just been telling ourselves that to keep from throwing the phone across the room.

The automated system informed us in tranquilizing tones that we could always email Blue Cross Blue Shield with our queries and the email would be answered within five business days. However, Rhodes told us he has already sent three emails since last week without receiving a reply or any acknowledgement.

This isn't exactly unexpected when you think about it. Lots of people signing up for health insurance or changing their plans over means health insurance companies are being inundated with new customers who all need to be put into the system according to a new set of requirements based on Obamacare, as CNN reported.

However, it's not like this should have taken them by surprise. The Obamacare roll-out was a mess, but it still technically happened, so the insurance company people knew a flood of new customers was on the way. But then, it's not like the Obamacare roll-out was a surprise either, so maybe everything is required to be a tangle with this new world of many people being eligible for health insurance in the United States.

Rhodes and his wife are taking turns calling in and being on hold. They have yet to speak with a real person, he said. They're both on maintenance medications -- including blood thinners for Rhodes -- that will have to be filled whether their insurance is recognized or not, so Rhodes says they'll pay for it and save the receipts.

Right now, he's just hoping for some contact with an actual company representative who might be able to help Rhodes into the system. "When they give you two ways to contact them and neither of them work, either they're incredibly incompetent or they don't want to talk to you. I don't know which applies here."

Louis Adams, the director of media and public relations for the Dallas arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield, said he is looking into the issue and will get back to us with some information as quick as he can. And we will update as soon as he does.


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10 comments
TinHouston
TinHouston

Also, go to the BCBS website, logging in with User ID provided in welcome letter (not the erroneous one with the extra zero on your BCBS card).  Print a temporary ID card from the website . . . use that one until new card issued.  In my case, it appears that User ID and RX PCN # has been corrected on the online temporary ID even though I have not received new (physical) cards.

txvet
txvet

I have experienced the same thing with BCBS.  I, too, received my shiny new insurance card, and paid for 6 months of coverage up front.  However, despite my two attempts to correct it, they still have my birthday wrong by one day.  I also received a bill for January weeks after I paid for January-June.  The automated system does not recognize my ID number, the phone system has kicked me off, and they haven't responded to email.  

NewsDog
NewsDog

Did you ask Rhodes if he and/or his wife voted for Obama?

Anse
Anse

In a year, when the process has smoothed out, and the mass rush of sign-ups are done, it's gonna work. What perplexes me are some of the reports I've seen going around the internet about people whose insurance rates have skyrocketed. They had insurance that was cheap, now it's super-duper expensive. What's the deal with that? My insurance has gone up a little but nothing out of the ordinary; it's been going up for over 10 years, after all. My copays and my deductible have gone up a little, too. But nothing like what I'm seeing in some of these stories. It's hard to understand how these increases can hit some people but not others.

fred166
fred166

@NewsDog   We both voted for Obama. Twice. This is a Blue Cross Blue Shield problem. Enrolling with ACA through the Fed website was relatively simple. 


ANSE: Our monthly premium dropped by 35%

vpbuckles
vpbuckles

@AnseThe money to pay for it has to come from somewhere. My insurance through my employer went up 25% this year and my brother who works for Ford Motor Credit had his increase even more. I must admit that I supported it at first (and voted for Obama) but they lied to us from the beginning to get this passed.  I still can't believe Pelosi said you had to pass the bill to know what was in it. That should have been a clear warning that they had no idea what they were doing.

Anse
Anse

@fred166 @NewsDog I'm glad your premium dropped. I think the insurance companies have exploited this program as an excuse to pad their bottom lines a bit. But there has to be some explanation for the inconsistencies.

Anse
Anse

@vpbuckles @Anse Yes, but there has to be an explanation. There is no sense to these seemingly random increases. Why hasn't mine gone up more? Why isn't everybody seeing the same kinds of increases? The only thing I don't like about the program is that it didn't come with a public option. They had to get rid of it to appease the insurance industry. Pelosi's quote needs to be understood in context. The text of the law has always been out there for any of us to read for ourselves. What she meant was that the law was going to need to be tweaked as we go to address problems along the way, just as all big programs need to be adjusted. It was a big project and it was complicated. Doesn't mean it won't work, it just needs time.

txsavvy
txsavvy

@grayson @Anse @vpbuckles The multi state plans come very close, and theoretically will be expanded in coming years to add competition. The public option puts the government in the middle of negotiations with doctors, hospitals, etc. You may think that is a good idea, but putting the government in the middle of anything seldom is a good idea.

grayson
grayson

@Anse@vpbuckles

Yeah the Public Option represented competition, real competition, something Republicans love to embrace in its ideal form as a way to contain costs, but not so much in reality. 

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