Augusta employee insurance glitch tied to providers

Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 1:13 PM
Last updated Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 1:51 AM
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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.

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Sweet son
10361
Points
Sweet son 01/04/13 - 02:33 pm
5
4
Procurement, HR and BC/BS!

All three involved in a shady insurance deal!

“How many times has this happened? Four?” said Charles Masters, vice president of the Augusta Firefighters Association. “My suggestion is they start looking out for people that look out for the city.”
Maybe if Procurement and HR had a Union they would do a better job like the FD. LOL!

Riverman1
83695
Points
Riverman1 01/04/13 - 02:35 pm
7
2
Ever get the feeling Richmond

Ever get the feeling Richmond County should outsource ALL their business to Columbia County and let them handle everything?

soapy_725
43676
Points
soapy_725 01/04/13 - 03:54 pm
0
0
Incompetent government bureacrats
Unpublished

All they know how to manage is the stealing of taxpayer's money. Not a one would last a day in the corporate world of business management. Business management where you do not have a blank check written on the pocket books of citizens.

This is why the federal government and its contractors are t he largest block of employees in the USA. How about a government job. You make six weeks and you are good for life.

CricketSeranade
593
Points
CricketSeranade 01/04/13 - 04:06 pm
7
1
The letter is GARBAGE!

I have been attempting to have my prescriptions filled for two days. I have spent more than an hour of my own time on the phone with the insurance company numerous times and got a different story everytime. Bottom line is today BCBS advised me that until this can be sorted out in another week or so, I would have to pay for my prescriptions out of pocket. One of my medications is over $600 alone. I work for the city, where do they think this money is going to come from? In the meantime, I fully expect that they will be taking out the full amount for insurance on my next check even though I will be without insurance for almost two weeks. I place the blame squarely on BCBS because it was there 'computer glitch' that caused the whole situation. They knew well ahead of time that this switch over was coming and yet they wait until after the old policies were terminated before rolling out this change.

my.voice
4810
Points
my.voice 01/04/13 - 05:22 pm
1
5
But wait, it's going to get

But wait, it's going to get even BETTER under Obamacare! A nations healthcare system in the hands of politicians.......let me see, Mr Smith.....I see you voted republican in November........this bypass surgery will have to wait. Thank you for participation in Obamacare.

dichotomy
32825
Points
dichotomy 01/04/13 - 05:29 pm
6
3
The "City" of Augusta is a

The "City" of Augusta is a ZERO. If the "city" touches it, it is screwed up. They cannot get ONE thing right. They can't do it right themselves and when they go to hire a contractor they argue and race bait it until they finally pick the worst one. We need to tar and feather the bunch of them and run them off. The "county" sure made a mistake when they threw in with this slipshod operation.

And ever who said they need a union. It does not help to simply unionize idiots. As in most cases, all you get is overpaid idiots. We've got enough of them in our government already.

aninsider
60
Points
aninsider 01/04/13 - 05:48 pm
3
1
Nothing we can do about it - we are at the mercy of BCBSGA.

This may just be the fault of BCBSGA. We have the same problem where i work. We were promised new ID cards by January 1, but about a week before the deadline, they called and said they were doing a computer conversion and the cards would not be ready. YES, THIS HAPPENS EVERY YEAR! They also supplied us with a letter to show to doctors and pharmacies where customer service has to be called in order to get the new card info (new policy number and new ID number). The letter explains that if you don't follow the directions on the letter, you will show up as inactive on the computer when the bill is submitted (as though your insurance had been cancelled). This is going to be a big headache because all the "default" co-pays for doctors and pharmacies are different than what our plan is and the employees will be billed or reimbursed later (no telling how long that will take). They are now telling us it will be at least the third week in January before we have our new ID cards. In the meantime, they have cut jobs at BCBSGA and cut out overtime, so there is also no telling how long it will actually be before we get ID cards.

rebellious
20737
Points
rebellious 01/04/13 - 06:32 pm
3
1
On good info

I have it that the earlier mess-ups and cancellations were because of ADP and their inability to interface with other systems. Additionally they (ADP) denied any responsibility for the mess. I advised a commissioner of this when ADP was being considered for outsourcing of HR in Augusta. Thankfully, he and the commission heeded these warnings and declined to move in that direction. So...easy on the criticism of Augusta HR on this one, although I agree they are in disarray with the reorg and current leadership is .........well.........lacking, to be nice. Not minimizing the inconvenience to city employees, but let's be sure blame falls where it should.

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 01/04/13 - 11:55 pm
3
1
I have BCBSGA and my new ID

I have BCBSGA and my new ID card arrived in mid December. I suspect my employer might have just turned in my information as soon as open enrollment ended October 31st.

My Daddy used to say "your cheapest help is your most expensive employee in the long run", it is probably time a qualified staff be employed to run the city. The money spent would save $$$$!!!!

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 01/05/13 - 07:33 am
3
2
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have no influence on this matter. Will the right wingers ever stop misrepresenting it? I doubt it.

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 01/05/13 - 11:01 am
0
0
Techfan

You are abolutely correct this is a matter of the demographic informantion not being entered in a timely manner. It may be the city's error of it may be BCBSGA but the Affordable Care Act is not involved in any matter with this issue!

corgimom
32217
Points
corgimom 01/05/13 - 05:39 pm
1
0
And this is why the City of

And this is why the City of Augusta is the laughingstock of the state. Once, ok, twice, maybe- but when this becomes a predictable event, you have to just shake your head.

I wonder how many people have been denied essential medications and medical care because of this-

meagain67
16
Points
meagain67 01/06/13 - 01:13 pm
2
0
Insurance Benefits

This is an open letter to the city of Augusta, GA, City Administrator, Fred Russell, Mayor Deke Copenhaver, Mike Blanchard, Clayton Jolly, and anyone else involved in the poorly executed switch of employee benefits with Blue Cross/Blue Shield;
I am one of thousands that are on your city plan. I want to personally thank you all, and hope you can give an individual thank you to the single person who screwed this change over up. If the city of Augusta knew you were going to be changing benefits I would have expected a letter from Blue Cross back in November or December to notify me that I only had a certain number of days left on my plan. This way I would have known to stock pile up on medications needed for daily existince.To find out on January 2, that not only the group has changed, and the numbers on my current card would be invalid, nobody at BC/BS can find any information based on the customer service numbers on my card.
Thank you for sending emails out, some of us who are the spouses of the employees don’t get to read those emails. God forbid my spouse should forward it to me, he would be reprimanded for sending private city information to a regular email address, even when this email YOU sent, pertains to me, my children and my family.
As of Saturday, January 5th we still do not have any valid insurance. I have been trying to get a prescription I need for 4 days now, and because of the price of this drug, the pharmacy will not “loan” it to me, or give it to me without payment.
Now, let’s discuss this payment part. I don’t have an extra $550.00 sitting around for a prescription, that I can file a claim for and get reimbursed at the rate it should have been paid had there been no problem, per Michael Blanchard’s email. And that is just ONE of the medications needed. Someone who is insulin dependent also and needs a $250.00 bottle and a $390.00 bottle .You do the math. $1190.00
My spouse isn’t one of the lucky ones who got the huge pay raises some time back the Fred Russell dished out. Nor is my spouse one of the lucky ones who works in the Administrators office that got paid until 5:00 pm, but were allowed to leave at noon the Friday before Christmas, per Fred Russell to the department heads. Five hours of city time were given away. Merry Christmas.
My spouse is one of those that have been getting furloughed. One of many that is there when you call 911 for an emergency. Could be one who has to break up a fight and wonder if someone is going to pull a gun and end their life, or one who runs into the building that’s on fire when you’re running out. My spouse doesn’t make nearly the money Fred Russell does, so I would like to know if on Monday when this insurance mess is still going on, will Mr. Russell please pull out his credit card and guarantee my pharmacy they will get paid one way or another?
Sincerely Yours,
One of many disgusted city employees spouses.

meagain67
16
Points
meagain67 01/08/13 - 12:22 pm
0
0
Bull Crap

I spoke with Bc/Bs Friday afternoon. I was informed that they are in the process of entering EACH MEMBER, ONE BY ONE, each policy is a seperate file to upload. This could take god knows how long. I was told that they would send an email and try to expidite my familys plan due to medication needs, well as of Tuesday, January 8 at 11:30 am, all pharmacys still show up invalid coverage.
On top of that, when I went over ALL the information on the policy of covered members, they still had a former spouse listed as covered, someone who should have been removed years ago. Glad to know they pay attemtion to who has two husbands, or two wifes listed for spousal coverage.

meagain67
16
Points
meagain67 01/08/13 - 12:24 pm
0
0
City Sick Day

Wonder if everyone who is not insured called out sick Wednesday, what the city would do then???

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