Pay Your Health Insurance Way Before It’s Due, A Cautionary Tale

Getting health insurance held up by bureaucratic red tape is one thing… but magnetic tape?

Jacob writes:

    I am writing this email while on hold for EBCBS customer service, The average wait for these calls has been 30-40 minutes per call, and this is my 4th or 5th call.

    This all started when I sent my premium payment of $221 by check on the 26th of December. Due to New Years weekend, new year’s day, and then president Fords death, my check was not deposited until 1/6/07.

    Taking all ‘grace’ out of ‘grace period’ Empire deactivated my coverage. I didn’t find that out until I was at my Pharmacy trying to pick up refill for an Anti-depressant and synthetic thyroid hormone (a pill I must take every day for the rest of my life because I had my thyroid removed for cancer at age 26)

Jacob continues:

    “1st call 1/5- I spent an hour getting through to Empire, they had received and deposited my check but were sitting around for me to call to ‘credit’ the account, they updated my account and told me everything was active again.

    1/8 – Returned to Pharmacy, informed STILL no drug coverage. Called Care-Mark (Empires EXCLUSIVE vendor for RX coverage) and in their system I was still listed as INACTIVE.

    Learned through a lengthy conversation with Care-Mark rep that they work on a old system that ‘downloads’ data sent from Empire via a MAGNETIC TAPE SYSTEM that is constantly back-logged with updates. She could see in my record that my empire coverage was active but had not received the ARCANE BIT OF DATA from Empire to reinstate RX coverage. Rep assured me that when the creaking system did its Flintstonian magic overnight, I should be active in the morning.

    1/9 – Called Pharmacist, STILL NO GO. Called Empire (30-40 minute wait) was told now that the reason they haven’t cleared me with Care-Mark is because, despite having my money, they had cut a refund check for my premium (my coverage was cancelled, remember) that was lost somewhere in the billing department. Basically, they were afraid of accidentally giving me some money (that in worst-case-scenario they could have billed me back for) and were therefore denying me RX coverage until the billing dept. could locate THIER OWN check.

    1/10 – Out of physical necessity, I go to Pharmacy and PAY OUT OF POCKET $142 for my meds. Target Pharmacy at the Atlantic Center (They are incredibly nice and helpful, really!) says they can credit me back when my insurance becomes active w/in 14 days.

    1/11 – Insult to Injury – Receive my new bill from Empire, and instead of 1 month due (they had deposited and credited all payments up until now) I have a bill for $671.18 – That’s for Feb PLUS DECEMBER AND JANUARY- AGAIN!

    So I have finished my current account of the matter, and I swear to god, I am still on HOLD with the MF’ers. I hope this story is of value to your readers and thank you for creating this wonderful site.

    Warmly, Jacob”