Due to an unexpected surge of health insurance enrollees at the tail end of 2015, carriers have been beset by processing delays. This left many incoming consumers with issues such as missing insurance cards the following year, preventing them from actually using their coverage.
The delays forced some policyholders to pay for their health care personally, despite being technically covered since the start of 2016.
Various brokers and insurers have reported that many of their customers (with individual health plans and coverage via small businesses) have voiced complaints regarding the delay.
Late last year, a number of carriers ended plans in some markets, forcing many of their customers to shop for new policies. At around the same time, the federal government extended the deadline for enrollment by two days, which meant more individuals and businesses rushed at the last minute to sign up. The ACA was also expanded last year, requiring employers to cover their workers.
However, some delays were the result of insurer mistakes. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, for instance, had to delay the delivery of its insurance cards due to a bank account overdraft error on its part; the insurer had erroneously taken too much money from its 3,200 customers. The company announced Jan. 15 that it had managed to reverse most of the billing errors, and almost all of its customers have received their cards.
Although health insurance delays are not uncommon to the industry, brokers claim that this year has been exceptional.