Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield has lovely hold music. Just ask Fred Rhodes. He and his wife have taken turns listening to it since they found out that, despite having enrolled and paid for their new health insurance in December, they still aren't in the system.
With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, Rhodes -- a Houston lawyer who runs an independent practice and thus has to buy health insurance -- went on healthcare.gov and signed up for a plan on December 21. He paid the premium on December 27 and got new insurance cards for himself and his wife right around the first of the year, he said.
Then his wife tried to get a flu shot from the Randall's pharmacy last week and was told by the pharmacist she wasn't showing up in the Blue Cross Blue Shield system. Rhodes tried to fill a prescription on Monday at a different pharmacy and was told the same thing. "I thought I knew how to do this, but obviously I was wrong," he said.
Fun fact: After being on hold for three hours, Blue Cross Blue Shield's automated system will hang up on you, according to Rhodes. We were curious about the holding experience and tried the same customer service line Rhodes has been using on Wednesday afternoon.
Jaunty yet soothing guitar music let us know we were still on hold after we were advised that the estimated wait time to speak to a real person was "in excess of 60 minutes." The automated voice non-person informed us that Blue Cross Blue Shield is working to implement the new regulations of the Affordable Care Act as quickly as possible. The automated system might have then asked us to have patience, but we could have just been telling ourselves that to keep from throwing the phone across the room.
The automated system informed us in tranquilizing tones that we could always email Blue Cross Blue Shield with our queries and the email would be answered within five business days. However, Rhodes told us he has already sent three emails since last week without receiving a reply or any acknowledgement.
This isn't exactly unexpected when you think about it. Lots of people signing up for health insurance or changing their plans over means health insurance companies are being inundated with new customers who all need to be put into the system according to a new set of requirements based on Obamacare, as CNN reported.
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However, it's not like this should have taken them by surprise. The Obamacare roll-out was a mess, but it still technically happened, so the insurance company people knew a flood of new customers was on the way. But then, it's not like the Obamacare roll-out was a surprise either, so maybe everything is required to be a tangle with this new world of many people being eligible for health insurance in the United States.
Rhodes and his wife are taking turns calling in and being on hold. They have yet to speak with a real person, he said. They're both on maintenance medications -- including blood thinners for Rhodes -- that will have to be filled whether their insurance is recognized or not, so Rhodes says they'll pay for it and save the receipts.
Right now, he's just hoping for some contact with an actual company representative who might be able to help Rhodes into the system. "When they give you two ways to contact them and neither of them work, either they're incredibly incompetent or they don't want to talk to you. I don't know which applies here."
Louis Adams, the director of media and public relations for the Dallas arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield, said he is looking into the issue and will get back to us with some information as quick as he can. And we will update as soon as he does.