The new year brought a few unwelcome surprises at the pharmacy or doctor’s office for city of Augusta employees whose insurance cards showed up as invalid.
In an e-mail sent to employees Thursday, city officials pointed to health insurance administrator Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and benefits manager Automatic Data Processing as the culprits.
Mike Blanchard, the deputy information technology director who has served as the interim human resources director for months, said the problem was caused when ADP’s employee benefits file failed to load into the Blue Cross system. As a result, health insurance cards and temporary cards sent Monday are invalid, but employees’ and their dependents’ policies remain intact, he said.
New cards will be mailed, but in the meantime, employees should present a copy of an attached letter at the doctor’s office and pharmacy and have the office call Blue Cross or pharmacy services for confirmation, he said.
City officials offered similar explanations when hundreds of Augusta employees’ and retirees’ insurance previously turned up canceled.
Some city employees see it as a slap in the face.
“How many times has this happened? Four?” said Charles Masters, the vice president of the Augusta Firefighters Association. “My suggestion is they start looking out for people that look out for the city.”
The glitch is the latest issue to surface in the personnel department, which hasn’t had a permanent director since the August 2011 resignation of Rod Powell. The Augusta Commission debated the merits of hiring ADP to perform all human resources functions but ended up hiring a consultant to devise a new framework for the department.
Recent efforts to replace Powell failed after the city’s top pick for the slot, George Williams, the former Tampa (Fla.) International Airport HR director, accepted another position in Florida.
This week, the city’s remaining HR staff members were issued 60-day notices in conjunction with the department restructuring. They’ll have to reapply for jobs.