Montana Blue Cross Blue Shield Pays $1 Million to Avoid Lawsuit Over “Hundreds” of Complaints
State Auditor Monica Lindeen's office has announced a settlement of sorts with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana over a bevy of complaints from customers across the state.
According to a press release from Lindeen's office, the list of complaints addressed in the settlement include a wide range of issues such as "failing to process medical claims in a timely manner, failing to respond to Lindeen’s office when regulators attempted to resolve issues in early 2014, failing to record the payment of customers’ monthly bills and failing to provide customers with needed documents, including insurance cards."
Lindeen's office claims the number of complaints rocketed up in 2014 to over three times what it had experienced in 2013.
“When you spend hard earned money on health insurance, you expect to have your medical claims paid," Lindeen said. “My office is here to ensure all health insurance companies live up to their obligations. Montanans deserve no less, especially those who are dealing with the emotions and stress of serious health issues. I appreciate BCBS's willingness to work with me to correct their mistakes and develop a plan to better serve Montanans.”
Half of the $1 million will go toward Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery at Montana State University in Bozeman. The rest of the money will go to the state's general fund. BCBS has also agreed to devote 50 of its best customer service employees to working on Montana cases.
A press release from BCBS seems to focus on the many changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act as at least part of the reason for the increase in complaints and the difficulty in dealing with them.
“This is the most transformative time in the history of our industry,” said BCBSMT President Mike Frank. “In our nearly 75 years of doing business in Montana, we have never before seen this degree of change all at once.”
The same release goes on to talk about the difficulties of working under the new rules in such a short amount of time.
“Our challenge was implementing what was right for our members long-term in a compressed time span,” Frank said. “We have resolved many of these issues and we are now poised to provide better service than ever before.”