Anthem Again Pushes Back Deadline To Pay For Health Premiums

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut for the second time has pushed back its deadline for customers to pay for coverage that starts this month because of enrollment delays.

Anthem, the state’s largest health insurer by membership, is struggling to enroll people who signed up between Oct. 1 and Dec. 23 through the state health exchange, Access Health CT, for coverage starting this year. People who thought they would have coverage in place have had various difficulties getting their payments to Anthem, or receiving an ID card indicating they have paid.

Last week, Anthem extended the deadline to Jan. 15 to pay premiums for coverage retroactive to Jan. 1. Now that deadline has been pushed back to Jan. 31, the Connecticut Insurance Department announced Tuesday. The department regulates insurers in the state.

“In response to the high volume of calls we are receiving we’re stepping up our operations to meet the needs of our customers,” Anthem spokeswoman Sarah Yeager said Tuesday in an e-mail. “We have extended the deadline to January 31 for individual market customers — on and off exchanges — to pay their premium and have coverage the entire month of January.”

Anthem’s parent company, WellPoint Inc., has had difficulty enrolling people in 14 states through WellPoint subsidiaries. The company said its customer service line has had an unprecedented increase in the volume of phone calls.

“It’s important to keep in mind that this is an unprecedented time of change for everyone in health care,” Yeager said. “While we expect the high call volumes to continue through the open enrollment period, Anthem is committed to getting our members the assistance they need, when they need it.”

The enrollment problems have affected new members in various ways, said Connecticut’s deputy insurance commissioner, Anne Melissa Dowling. Some people mailed checks to a lockbox in California — the proper protocol — but those checks have not been cashed to get people enrolled. Others received a confirmation letter but have not had success paying either by phone or online, Dowling said.

Yeager said in a statement: “If the member goes to doctor or a pharmacy before their ID card is received, the provider can call and verify coverage. The coverage will be in effect as long as [the customer’s] first premium has been paid. Our customer service representatives are regularly calling providers on behalf of our members to verify benefits.”

Anthem has provided an online list of questions and answers: http://www.ct.gov/cid/lib/cid/Anthem_Enrollment_FAQs.pdf

Starting Wednesday, people can pay in person with a credit card or check — not cash — between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Anthem’s offices at 108 Leigus Road in Wallingford.

Customers also may pay online, which requires an “initial payment letter” with the customer’s ID, by visiting https://shop.anthem.com/sales/eox/shop/demographics/home/snq?execution=e1s1.

To make a phone payment, call 855-738-6644.

Mail-in payments should be sent to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Individual Services, P.O. Box 9041, Oxnard, CA 93031-9041.

About Matthew Sturdevant

Full-time staff journalist at The Hartford Courant and magazine freelancer with a master's degree in writing from Dartmouth. My work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Taiwan News, The Baltimore Sun and many other news sources. My blog has been referenced by Politico.com, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Georgetown Law Library and a number of organizations in healthcare and business. Sturdevant’s blog is "a well-written wealth of ideas," said The Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, (businessjournalism.org, May 18, 2011). I have experience writing for newspapers, magazines, Web sites and blogs as well as shooting and editing video. I made regular appearances on news-talk radio and on the NBC affiliate station in Corpus Christi, Texas. I made occasional appearances on the Fox affiliate in Connecticut promoting Hartford Courant articles.

The Courant is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on courant.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.