When I was a kid, Blue Cross Blue Shield was considered an insurance company that looked out for its clients. Seems the times they have changed. We are now entering chapter 3 of my ongoing battle with this once reputable company.
The latest iteration: I received a call from the “underwriting” department of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. Oh, first, let me back up. I received a letter from them telling me that my application was missing page 5 and that I needed to send in the first premium payment before they would process my application. I looked at the copy of the application they had sent back. Their xerox copy included the filled out page 5 I had originally sent them. Also they had not informed me what the amount of the premium payment was supposed to be. As it was, I was not able to get back to them immediately because life got busy and phone calls with Anthem always seem to take at least an hour. So a week went by before I was able to call them. When I did, I was informed that they had dropped the application because too much time had gone by (it turned out that on the letter they had sent, they had asked me to reply by July 4. It was July 12 When I actually called them).
In spite of this, they did transfer me to a young man who proceeded to tell me all the options that were available. Well, two of the options that were available. I chose option 2 and was transferred to the, I guess it was, underwriting department. It was at that point that I realized that there might be more than those two options available. I asked if I could be transferred back to the young man. Sure enough there were about eight options. So I went over all the options with him and ended up choosing a different option. They then offered to fill the application out over the phone. It looked like maybe, just maybe I would have insurance again, and this particular nightmare would be over.
I was transferred to someone who, with thick foreign accent, started to read me the application form. Now maybe I should have just said, “Listen, I am having a hard time understanding you. Maybe you should just e-mail me the application.” But it seemed we were so close to resolution that I went ahead with the “What? I am sorry. I did not understand you. Could you repeat that?” ensuing conversation in the hopes that this would speed up the process.
But, nay, twere not to be. On Friday, I received a call from a “Liz” from underwriting. “I have a few questions about some doctors visits from last Fall.” So I called her at the number that she left. But, as seems to be their wont, I ended up speaking to somebody else who would pass the information to Liz. This representative started to ask me questions about my visits to the chiropractor. The way she was asking them, I realized they were wanting to have my answers allow them to keep me at the level 2 status. So I explained to the lady I was speaking with that I considered my visits to the chiropractor as preventative: I get a twinge. I go to the chiropractor. He takes care of the twinge. I avoid back surgery or knee surgery or years on prescription drugs. Also, I reminded her, that she could note that I have cost Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield absolutely nothing other than the paper which they use to send their premium bills to me. This woman seemed to hear me and told me that she would pass the information on to Liz. Ten minutes later, the phone rings and I am told that Liz is on the line.
Liz informs me that I visited the chiropractor four times between August 22 -September 2 of last year. Why and what for? “I don’t remember.” “You don’t remember or you are afraid to tell me why?” she replies. “I am not afraid to tell you why. I truly don’t remember. I go to the chiropractor for preventative means. So my visits tend to be inconsequential.” “four times in one month is not inconsequential.” “Listen. I am a very healthy person. So I go to the chiropractor occasionally. So what? I don’t cost you anything. Why in the world would you insist on keeping me at a level 2?” Well, you might need a knee replacement some day.” (I wish I had thought to reply, “and the sun might not come up tomorrow,” but I didn’t.) “Why are you wanting to punish me for being healthy? This makes absolutely no sense! And anyway, are you even legally allowed to refer back to something from last year at this point?” “That law will not go into effect until 2014.” she replied.
By this time, I was rather annoyed at their tactics. I emphatically stated, “I really cannot deal with you and this. I am a perfectly healthy person. I certainly am not a level 2 person.”
“Oh.” Liz replied, “So are you telling me that you would be willing to insure yourself and put money aside should a catastrophe occur?”
“You are incredible. I have no idea what is going on here, but I will not accept being categorized as a level 2 because I go to a chiropractor.”
“According to (and she named some governmental organization) a chiropractor is not preventative.”
I replied, “Yeah, and I am sure Anthem paid someone good money to have them define it that way, too.” “We do not do that!” she replied. “Oh please. I am sure you have lobbyiest down there. All big corporations do. And if you were more interested in serving your clients than in keeping profit margins up, we would not be having this conversation.” “Do you want to cancel your policy? Do you? Do you?” she yelled back.
I was astounded. Most companies live by the rule that the client is always right. No? But these insurance companies are so big and so arrogant, that one of their employees can harass me and feel that they have every right to speak to me the way this woman did.
I replied, “I don’t know about cancelling, but I sure do not want to speak with you anymore.” We have been reading about bullying in school and there has been a public outcry against this. What about the bullying by a huge conglomerate to a peon like me who just feels that they are giving me an unfair shake.
My husband, last year, when I started this battle with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, advised, “This is not a battle you can win. Just pay the premium and try not to get upset by it.” But I feel it is the principle of the thing. I just do not think it is right for a conglomerate to rule my life in this way and rule the health care providers in the way they do.
Following are some of the variations that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield exists:
- Anthem Blue Cross
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Missouri
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin
- Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health
- Blue Cross Blue Shield in Georgia
- Blue Cross of Idaho
- Empire Blue Cross
- Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of: In Colorado: Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc. In Connecticut: Anthem Health Plans, Inc. In Indiana: Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. In Kentucky: Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky, Inc. In Maine: Anthem Health Plans of Maine, Inc. In Missouri: RightCHOICE® Managed Care, Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. In Nevada: Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc. In New Hampshire: Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire, Inc. In Ohio: Community Insurance Company. In Virginia: Anthem Health Plans of Virginia, Inc. In Wisconsin: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin (“BCBSWi”) underwrites or administers the PPO and indemnity policies; Compcare Health Services Insurance Corporation (“Compcare”) underwrites or administers the HMO policies; and Compcare and BCBSWi collectively underwrite or administer the POS policies. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. ® ANTHEM is a registered trademark. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Serving residents and businesses in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area), Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Virginia (excluding the city of Fairfax, the town of Vienna and the area east of State Route 123. In Wisconsin: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin (“BCBSWi”), which underwrites or administers the PPO and indemnity policies; Compcare Health Services Insurance Corporation (“Compcare”), which underwrites or administers the HMO policies; and Compcare and BCBSWi collectively, which underwrite or administer the POS policies. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. ® ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
In other words, they are huge. And, they are bullies, just like all huge entities become when they can get away with it. I just found out that they called the chiropractor and asked for all the records over the past year. Apparently, my chiropractor has to send them all the records and I apparently have given the go ahead (clearly, they would not bother to insure me if I did not, right?) So maybe this story will end soon. I will keep you posted.
© Yvonne Behrens