Yesterday I logged into my online bank account and found that my checking account balance was about half what I expected. It turns out that instead of my $90 premium, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina had deducted $525.
Completely freaking out, I called their helpline only to wait on hold for one hour and 40 minutes. “Mom, I don’t think they’re actually there,” my son opined after the hundredth time that the automated voice assured me I’d be speaking with a human shortly.
I was one of more than 137,000 people desperately seeking answers in the wake of what BCBSNC says is one of the worst system failures in the company’s history. The problem stemmed from a migration to a new billing system combined with delays interfacing with the Affordable Healthcare Act computer system.
But while waiting on hold for nearly two hours yesterday, I didn’t know any of that. All I knew was that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to buy groceries this month.
Once I got a representative on the phone, she told me that it was a known issue. She advised me to call my bank and contest the charges. She apologized profusely, and I did my best to be patient and avoid shooting the messenger.
I called my bank, who said I was one of many who’d called that day to dispute BCBS’s overcharges. In fact, I’m one of 3,200 North Carolinians who were charged far too much. Another 25,000 North Carolinians got placed into the wrong plans. Some customers were charged twice, and others found themselves without coverage.
I’m lucky I didn’t overdraft, but I am currently out about $400 I didn’t expect to spend. My bank says they will try to have the money back to me within 10 days. In the meantime, they cancelled my debit card, because of the so-called fraudulent charges. This means I get to spend another hour or two making sure everywhere I autopay with that card — my electric bill, my internet, my mortgage — has the new card number.
This is a ridiculous headache. Although I accept the cost of progress, I am frustrated that this is happening to my fellow North Carolinians. I’m lucky to have had a bit of cushion in my checking account, but I’m sure there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of customers who now are navigating the world of overdraft fees and are anxiously awaiting their refunds so they can pay their other bills.
Did BCBS overcharge you or put you on the wrong plan? Let us know in comments.