Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield has agreed to grant three weeks free coverage to New York State 15,000-20,000 consumers who enrolled in the state insurance exchange but failed to get coverage by January 1st as planned. The company, which accounts for 21% of all new policies purchased under the Affordable Health Care Act, has experienced numerous problems since the start date, including failing to provide ID cards in time, as well as sending ones with the wrong ID numbers, and assigning primary care physicians for which enrollees did not sign up for. In other cases, consumers were told to make payments for coverage without proper billing or even confirmation that they had coverage.
Empire spokeswoman Sally Kweskin has admitted, “the rollout of the exchange has been turbulent and that some members have been unable to access benefits or get through to our customer service call centers. That is why we will be giving financial accommodation to those new Empire enrollees who did not receive any care during the first month. In the meantime, we are working vigorously to address the issues experienced by our members.”
In addition to sending out reimbursement checks, Gov. Cuomo announced that the State is requiring Empire to pay $2 million for consumer education to encourage enrollment in the exchange as created under Obamacare, as well as provide the NY Department of Financial Services (which oversees insurance companies there) with a new plan of action. They must also submit daily reports on their progress in resolving these issues.
Readers facing insurance problems can call the DFS at 212 480-6400 or 800 342-3736.