State official: Blue Cross problems are an 'emergency'

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Complaints abound about Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

The "system failure" at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina that enrolled thousands of customers in the wrong health insurance is now having a serious impact on one state agency.

The I-Team sat down with Wayne Goodwin, the state's insurance commissioner, on Thursday night, and he called the system failure at Blue Cross "an emergency that's nowhere near being stabilized."

"People can't get their surgeries scheduled, can't get their MRI's scheduled, they can't get their cancer treatments," Goodwin said.

Commissioner Goodwin told ABC11 that his office has received more than 3,000 calls and more than 850 complaints from frustrated Blue Cross Blue Shield customers.

Staffers at the Department of Insurance are overwhelmed as they try to cut through the hours-long wait times customers are suffering through with the embattled insurance giant.

"My team is stretched thin," Goodwin said. "We've actually had to shift folks around; my resources are stretched."

It's a similar story at Blue Cross. The company is now requiring customer service agents to work weekends and overtime to reduce the backlog of customers. Complaints of double-billing, wrongly drafted accounts and no-show insurance cards abound.

And ABC11 eyewitnesses tipped the I-Team off to a new problem this week. Thousands of Blue Cross invoices went out this week with the wrong phone number for customer service. When the number is dialed, it goes to a message about some kind of rewards program.

The problem has been fixed, and BCBS blames it on "human error."

Goodwin says it's premature to talk about potential sanctions against the company. When pressed, he said the department will follow the law-- and hold Blue Cross accountable

"It is too early to say whether there will be any consequences, Goodwin said. "Because first and foremost we must solve the problems."

In a statement, Blue Cross Blue Shield told ABC11 that "we are working diligently to resolve these issues as quickly as possible in collaboration with the Department of Insurance."

To make a complaint or get help from the Consumer Services Division at the North Carolina Department of Insurance, call (855) 408-1212 or use the agency's website,

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