Consumers face major hiccups 22 days after official start of Obamacare
Local 2 has learned some consumers who signed up and paid their first premiums for Obamacare can't get prescriptions or schedule doctor's visits. Consumer expert Amy Davis helped get one man on track; and she's looking into how widespread the delays are.
Insurance under the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be effective on Jan. 1 as long as consumers paid their first premium on Dec. 31. January is almost over and we’ve heard from a lot of people who are still waiting for coverage.
Bob Lanik's medicine to treat his rheumatoid arthritis costs thousands of dollars every month. When he saw that he could get better insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, he signed up for a new policy with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.
"I was one of the few that ACA really helped," Lanik told Davis.
It would help if he could use the insurance. Lanik signed up for a new plan and paid his first premium Dec. 19. His coverage was set to begin Jan. 1; but 15 days later he still couldn't get in to see his doctors or fill his prescriptions.
"They needed group numbers, policy numbers or something, and I didn't have any of that," said Lanik.
And despite repeated phone calls to Blue Cross Blue Shield, he wasn't getting any answers.
"I would get little canned responses like "We are taking care of your problem. Someone will be in contact," he told Davis. "And then no one would be in contact."
Lanik is not alone. Local 2 found Blue Cross Blue Shield Texas customers venting on Facebook.
Elizabeth Schaeffer wrote, "I haven't gotten a welcome letter and I have been trying for weeks to get through." Many complained about waiting on hold for hours trying to get information.
Louis Adams of BCBS Texas sent Local 2 this statement:
"BCBSTX is dedicated to making the enrollment process as seamless as possible for our new members. We've identified and corrected the specific coverage issue Mr. Lanik had and will work with him to make sure he has the information he needs to make the best health care decisions.
This is a transformational time in our industry and some issues are to be expected, but as of now, we see them occurring on a limited basis. We continue to work closely with HHS and other government entities to reconcile these issues as they occur."
The company did send Lanik his new card within 24 hours of our phone call, but Lanik knows many others are still waiting.
"I understand that there were probably lots and lots of people signing up for this, but it's not like you didn't see it coming," Lanik said.
While Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas admits a backlog, it wouldn't tell us how many new customers are still waiting for their coverage to kick in. The company said it should only take about five to 10 business days to process new applications.
On the company's Facebook page, they posted this:
"Applications take about 5-10 business days to process. If you applied weeks ago but still haven't heard anything, here's how you can check:
"• If you applied on the Health Insurance Marketplace & haven't received notice of approval, call the Marketplace Call Center at 800-318-2596. (TTY users should call 855-889-4325.)
"• If you applied with us online & haven't received information, call our Customer Service Center at 888-697-0683. Our call volumes are still very high, so you may have to hold for a long period before getting through. We apologize for this inconvenience."