Dept. of Insurance inundated with Blue Cross complaints

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BCBS complaints flood the Department of Insurance.

Nine months' worth of work in just nine weeks.

That's the workload the North Carolina Department of Insurance says it has taken on with the number of calls and complaints about Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

"For perspective, we have taken more than 8,700 phone calls and almost 1,900 complaints related to the Blue Cross issues since January 4," said Kerry Hall, NCDOI Director of Public Information.

She said the department's commissioner, Wayne Goodwin, is stepping in and directing his team to hunt down any potential fineable violations and will consider imposing penalties available under state law to hold the company accountable.

Since January, Blue Cross has been inundated with customer complaints caused by what seems to be an administrative issue. For instance, customers who thought they were covered weren't, and vice versa. This caused people to miss, in many cases, vital treatments.

"We are still very early in the information-gathering stage," Hall said. "Fining the company would be a long, slow process, but statute does give the commissioner authority to impose fines per day per violation, for example."

However, she said it is too early to speculate the dollar amount of any fines. But she said the commissioner is learning what tools, including fines, are available for him to hold the company accountable and protect consumers.

BCBSNC responded with this statement from its spokesperson, Lew Borman:

"We apologize for the frustration this has caused and will work closely with the Department throughout its review. Though the majority of issues that many of our members faced are resolved, we recognize that even a small percentage of our 3.9 million customers equals too many people. Call volumes and hold times are down significantly, although not yet to the levels we or our customers expect. We are working hard to make things right and address all concerns."

If any consumers have questions or complaints about insurance, they are directed to call the Department of Insurance at (855) 408-1212 or file an online request for assistance.

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