More snags for Central Valley residents seeking health insurance through Covered California

local@modbee.comDecember 31, 2013 

The Modesto Bee received more testimonials from folks frustrated with trying to get insurance through Covered California. The state-run health exchange was established to implement the Affordable Care Act in California. Earlier this year, it approved agreements with 11 insurers to offer health plans to residents who need coverage. Four insurers are offering plans in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties.

Bob Schut of Ripon said his previous insurance was canceled because it didn’t meet the new federal standards. His email on Tuesday said:

“After signing up with Covered California in October, they said I would hear from Anthem Blue Cross by Nov. 15. Nothing came so I called. They told me they were behind and would be mailing (a payment invoice) in a day or two. Nothing again, so I called the first of December. They gave me an address to send a check for payment. ... I sent the check on Dec. 9. I received a letter Dec. 16 saying they needed payment to activate the account and gave a Web address for online payment. I filled out the form and paid online by credit card, which they said was acceptable for the first payment. Again, I never heard from them. I called on Dec. 28 and was told they recorded my payment Dec. 17 but it had not been processed yet and would take up to 10 working days. The payment has not cleared my credit card company, nor does anyone know what happened to the check.”

Janet Cataline of Modesto filed an application with Covered California in November and still is trying to complete her enrollment:

“Here is what transpired Monday: I called Anthem Blue Cross to check on whether or not they showed receiving my premium payment. I had mailed it Dec. 12 and figured enough time had elapsed. I waited approximately one hour on hold before being connected to a representative. The representative looked in the system and could not confirm receipt of payment. She told me that they are very backlogged with processing the payments and that their system was not working properly. I said OK, how about I just make another payment over the phone right then? The rep said that would not work, either, as the system was down, and that I should just be patient. She told me it usually takes 7-10 business days to process a payment. She also informed me that the deadline to receive payments for January had been moved to Jan. 20 so I had nothing to worry about. Hopefully, this is true.”

Sandra Barker of Modesto addressed this email to Bee staff writer Ken Carlson on Tuesday:

“Good morning, Ken. You interviewed me for a prior article where I was looking forward to being insured. Here is my scenario...

“First week of October: Called and was told I completed everything via the phone and would receive a Covered California award letter. I asked for a confirmation number and the employee stated there was none.

“First week of November: Called Covered California and they asked me for an application number. I said I was not given one. The employee found my information via my personal information and gave me a number, saying my application was ‘in progress.’ The employee said I would receive something from Anthem Blue Cross (my selection) before Thanksgiving.

“Last week of November: Called and gave them my application number. The employee asks, ‘Would you like to complete the application?’ – and so we did and I was then given a case number. The employee said I would receive something right away from Anthem with a bill to pay before the end of the year.

“Third week in December: Called and gave them my case number. I was instructed to mail a check to Anthem without any paperwork. I was told to write my case number and the plan number on the check, and send it to an address they gave me. So I did.

“I have never received a bit of paperwork from Covered California nor Anthem since my original phone application starting the first week of October. So wish me luck. In between this, I tried getting on the website, which was shut down the two times I tried.”

Anyone who has experienced trouble with enrolling in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act or has received an insurance card may contract Bee staff writer Ken Carlson at or (209) 578-2321.

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