Troubleshooter: Health Insurance

March 8, 2011 5:20:01 AM PST
Louise Parrish paid her monthly health insurance premium each month with automatic bill pay with no problems. But when a new carrier took over the policy, Parrish says she ran into big problems.

It started December when she got an invoice for health insurance through Merck. She wasn't used to getting monthly invoices because she used automatic bill pay and her carrier wasn't Merck at the time. She picked up the phone and called Merck.

"The representative said he didn't have my name in the system," she recalled.

Parrish said she thought nothing more about it until January when she got another invoice. She said she called Merck again.

"I was thinking it was just someone selling insurance," she recalled. "I said I don't need another policy of the same thing."

Since Parrish already had insurance, she told the woman to stop sending invoices as she was not interested in another policy. It turned out to be a costly mistake. Parrish discovered weeks later when she went to fill a prescription that the invoices from Merck were actually for her current health insurance.

"I panicked. I panicked, because I know I have to have it," she recalled. "I didn't sleep at all that night, I really didn't, my heart started beating real fast, and I said I've got to have insurance."

Parrish said the invoices from Merck she received in December and January did not explain that her carrier had changed.

"It didn't say they were changing, or merging, or taking over Aetna. It didn't say anything about it," she said.

Parrish needed help so she turned to her friend Linda Phillips. They filed an appeal with Merck but lost.

"When I asked the question 'Why didn't you send the information about re-enrolling in the premium?' They couldn't answer that question, and I said Okay, I think it's something worthy to take to the next level," said Phillips.

Parrish contacted ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson and we got in touch with Merck. Her health insurance is reinstated and she again has the coverage she's had for years.

"I'm happy as a lark," said Parrish. "Thank you so much. I appreciate it."

Parrish's life insurance was also affected by the mix-up, but it's been reinstated too since she got us involved.

Parrish said she was told her monthly premiums weren't paid with automatic bill pay when Merck took over because she had to re-enroll in that service.

A representative with Merck said they are pleased to have resolved the matter to Parrish's satisfaction.

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