Woman Loses Insurance Because She Paid With Credit Card

Andrea has been a customer with Anthem since 1995, paying her bill all the time and never submitting any claims. So you can see why they canceled her coverage.

The Los Angeles Times’s David Lazarus reports on how Anthem decided as of August 1st to stop letting customers pay their bills automatically by credit card. Instead of auto-charging to their credit cards, Anthem now wants customers to give them their bank account info and let them take it from their checking accounts. If customers still want to pay their bill by credit card, they have to call in each month to do it, incurring a $15 fee each time.

Andrea missed the notice informing her of this and when the monthly payment didn’t charge to her card like normal, because Anthem had shut it off, after 31 days they canceled her health insurance coverage.

“I was shivering when I read this,” Andrea told LAT. “I had done everything right. I had never missed a payment. And yet now I had no health insurance for the first time in my life. It felt like doomsday.”

After she noted to the customer service rep that she had been a good customer for 16 years, Anthem agreed to reinstate her coverage. Andrea agreed to submit and hand over her checking account info.

A really good reason to carefully review any statements and letters your insurance provider, or any banking/cellphone/similar institution sends your way. You never know what exciting new policies they’ll come up with.

The bigger question is how many other Andreas are there out there? People who didn’t read that notice and are now finding out they don’t have any health insurance? And why would Anthem make this move in the first place? Service providers will sometimes ask for your checking account info if there’s been a history of missed payments or failed credit card transactions, but to require it with no previous bad history is odd. They must have done the math. The savings by not paying credit card transaction processing fees, and the savings by insuring fewer people, must outweigh the lost monthly premiums, as well as the threat of regulatory action.

A spokesperson for the California Attorney Gerneral told Lazarus that the state was concerned about Anthem’s move and would “monitor the situation and make sure health consumers are protected.”

Using plastic to pay Anthem bill? Prepare to lose your coverage [LA Times] (Thanks to Adam!)