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Jesse’s Story of the Day

New billing system prompts long wait times for Premera customers

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Alex Dunne says he’s without health coverage and he can’t get through to his insurer, Premera Blue Cross on the phone.

“I tried three and a half hours, multiple phone calls to customer service, headquarters. I went through the phone system as a subscriber. I went through the phone system as a provider. I tried every tree through the phone system I could find waited on hold the entire time. I never got a live person,” Dunne said.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner says it’s seen a surge of complaints against Premera over the last month. Many of those are about billing and call times. Premera who declined an on-camera interview said in a statement, “We apologize for the long hold times and are doing everything we can to reduce the impact to our customers, including giving them the option to leave a call back number rather than wait on hold.”

Dunne says that isn’t much consolation for him or other customers, “It’s scary for me, and I can afford to sit on the phone for three and a half hours while I do other desk work, how must it be for other customers who can’t put in the time to do that?

The other issue is that the insurer has also changed its billing system.

Premera says it asked customers using to auto pay to re-enter their information at least two months ago. Alex says he was never notified, only to discover later he had no health insurance for his family.

And then when he tried to get through to Premera looking for help, a representative didn’t answer the phone, “To think that my wife and child didn’t have coverage the last month and that we don’t have insurance during the holiday travel season and we don’t have coverage as we renew for 2017 is scary.”

Premera Blue Cross Statement on Plan Changes:

This is the busiest time of the year for Premera Blue Cross. About 90 percent of our customers renew their healthcare coverage from November through January. This year has been especially busy for the small percentage of our customers who do not receive their healthcare through their employer, due primarily to changes we announced earlier this year in our individual market products and plans.  We encourage our customers with individual plans to go to www.premera.com and click on “Shop for Plans,” to learn more about the plans and options for purchasing insurance coverage that best meets their needs. We apologize for the long hold times and are doing everything we can to reduce the impact to our customers, including giving them the option to leave a call back number rather than wait on hold.

Premera Blue Cross Statement on Billing Issues:

Due to an upgrade in our online payment system, individual customers who do not receive coverage through their employer were asked to resubmit their billing information. We notified customers three different times over a six-week period that they needed to take action in order to prevent disruption in their coverage.  The vast majority of these customers went online or used our automated phone system to successfully ensure no disruption in their coverage. We apologize for the inconvenience and are doing everything we can to reduce the impact to our customers, including bringing on additional resources and giving our customers the option to leave a call back number rather than wait on hold.

 

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