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Five months later, Blue Cross finally takes premium payments

THE FIXER HAS SAVED YOU

$1,212,382

Updated: April 12, 2012 10:04AM



Dear Fixer: I’ve had a policy with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois for 14 years and have not had any problems up until this past October, when I did not receive an invoice for my premium.

I wanted to pay, so I called and the representative gave me an address to send my payment. She also said my date of birth was incorrect (after all this time) so I sent in a copy of the original application, plus a photo of my driver’s license.

The next month, I again did not receive an invoice, so I called again. This time, I paid over the phone and asked if I could pay by automatic deduction each month, which I thought would solve the problem.

I filled out a form and received a confirmation, but in January no deduction was taken.

I called again. The representative told me my premiums for January and February would be taken out in February.

But by Feb. 1, the premiums were still not deducted. I called again but couldn’t get this corrected. I called again Feb. 13 and talked to a supervisor who said he would work on it that week. A week later, I called and asked for him again, but was told he was not available and they weren’t allowed to give me his last name!

I asked if I could send $428 to bring my account up to date. I have been postponing cataract surgery, since I was not sure if they would pay a claim, as my account still was showing I was only paid to Dec. 31.

I mailed the payment and they said the auto deduction would begin the next month.

I think five months to get this straightened out is ridiculous. They keep telling me it is a computer problem. I have never worked so hard to make a premium payment.

Audrey Scholly, Des Plaines

Dear Audrey: The Fixer admires your tenacity in trying to give money to your insurance company!

Kidding aside, we can see why you’d want this billing problem fixed. You wouldn’t want that same computer that couldn’t bill you to later deny you coverage for not being current with your payments.

We took this to Blue Cross Blue Shield and they fixed it in a flash. Apparently, they had moved to a different billing system and your account lagged behind. Now they’ve got you on auto-payment and it really did deduct your money this month. Good luck with the surgery.

COSTLY LESSON:
A consumer’s tale of woe

Some things you can let slide.

If you forget to empty the recycling bin, water a plant or cut your kid’s toenails for a few days, chances are nothing catastrophic will happen.

That’s not the case when it comes to keeping tabs on your debit card, as G.S. found out.

Her checkbook, debit card and state ID disappeared — lost or stolen, she doesn’t know.

The first she learned of it was when her bank sent her overdraft notices. By then, someone had fraudulently reached into her account and taken all her money.

Sadly, she didn’t have a legal leg to stand on. The law says that consumers can be liable for $50 in losses if they report a lost or stolen debit card within two business days but liable for up to $500 in losses if they wait up to 60 days to report it. If they fail to report it after that, they can be on the hook for unlimited losses.

In a related tale of woe, another Fixer reader, P.M., learned the hard way that consumers should never write their PIN on the back of a debit card.

She did, and when the card was later lost and used fraudulently, her bank wouldn’t help. The bank said that by not protecting her PIN from a thief, she essentially helped them take her money.

So dear readers, please keep your PINs private — and check your account activity frequently.

What is a Costly Lesson? It’s an UNFIXABLE problem that cost someone a lot of money but holds a valuable lesson for the rest of us. If you’ve got something to warn the rest of us about, e-mail it to szimmermann@suntimes.com with Costly Lessons in the subject line. And don’t worry — with Costly Lessons, we leave out last names to prevent further embarrassment.

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at suntimes.com/fixer , where you’ll find a simple form to fill out.



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