DENVER — Consumers who’ve tried to sign-up for the Affordable Health Care Act in Colorado are frustrated and uncertain if they are covered, despite signing up for coverage last year.
FOX31 Denver began getting complaints about the lack of action taken by Connect for Health Colorado, the state created health exchange.
The viewer complaints were primarily about the exchange not sending insurance application over to insurance companies, leaving some consumers in limbo on whether or not they have medical insurance.
Megan Reardon signed up last November.
“It said our application was received and they (Connect for Health Colorado) would send notification when our carrier accepted our application,” said Reardon, a stay-at-home mom with four kids. “I figured it was an easy process and it would be taken care of by January 1.”
But when no notification came in the beginning of the year, she began calling Connect for Health, and her chosen insurance company, Kaiser, to find out why she had no insurance.
“I was told there was no application,” said Reardon.
She became worried, especially with four young kids, who are constantly in-and-out of doctor’s office.
“If something happens and we have to go to the ER and all of a sudden I am paying out of pocket?,” she said.
A former executive assistant, Reardon kept meticulous records of her calls to Kaiser and Connect for Health. She estimated an average of up to 2 hours a day on the phone trying to get her family health care insurance.
“If policy is the law, then we need to make sure it is working,” Reardon said.
Retired police officer Jack Bayles and his wife, Gina, are in the same situation.
“When I talk with Cigna, they have no record of anything,” he said. “It’s worry some. Do we have insurance? Do we not have insurance? Are they going to cover it? Are they not going to cover it?” said his wife.
He now owns his own business taking wildlife photography, but his small business has been put on hold as he tries to fix the problem of his family’s health insurance coverage.
Phone records provided by Bayles to FOX31 Denver show on a single call he spent 112 minutes trying get answers from Connect for Health. That was back in December and as of March, he is still waiting for on whether or not he is medically covered.
“There is a breakdown somewhere,” he said. Bayles became so frustrated with the system he hired an insurance broker hoping that would help. “We just couldn’t get it done on our own.”
State exchange has had problems
Colorado is one of 17 states that set up its own health exchange. The state’s program went on-line on Oct. 1, 2013 with some technical glitches in the beginning.
Connect for Health admitted there were problems at first, but that the number of complaints has decreased since January.
FOX31 Denver’s Investigative Unit asked Connect for Health Colorado how it tracks complaints, like the one’s Bayles and Reardon brought to our attention.
We specifically asked in an e-mail, “How many complaints were filed, the reason for the complaints and action taken on those complaints.”
A spokesman for Connect for Health Colorado responded they don’t keep track of complaints and couldn’t answer our request.
Republican State Senator Kevin Lundburg, who serves on the state’s Health and Human Services committee, is equally frustrated by the lack of answers coming from Connect for Health Colorado.
“I haven’t gotten good clean answer from them. They’re a little bit fuzzy with their information,” Lundburg said.
Lundburg said that 750,000 people in Colorado are uninsured and were expected to sign-up for health insurance though the exchange, but with 112,000 signed up less than a week before the March 31 deadline.
“That’s not a success story. If it was supposed to provide more insurance, it’s not doing it,” said Lundurg.
The frustration with long calls times and people who just aren’t as persistent as Bayles and Reardon could factor into why so many are opting to give up on getting their mandate health insurance.
Lindy Hinman, Chief Operating Officer with Connect for Health, disagrees with the 750,000 number provide by Senator Lundburg, stating those number were provided by an outside non-profit agency, not Connect for Health Colorado.
But we found those same numbers being posted on the state of Colorado’s own webpage concerning questions and answers about Health Care Reform in the state.
Three weeks after FOX31 Denver asked Connect for Health Colorado about complaint numbers, Hinman opened up about the complaints the exchanged has received, stating about 2,240 have come through either the call center or on-line. The number of complaints is less than 2 percent of those who’ve signed up for health insurance.
“It is a very small number of our customers that are giving us complaints and when we do receive them we work on an individual basis to resolve them as quickly as we can,” Hinman said.
Because of privacy laws she couldn’t walk about individual cases, but reassured users that they are working to resolve all problems.
“We are working every day with our carriers to make sure whoever has come to us and gotten enrolled that information is then getting to the carrier. There is sometimes a delay getting that information all the way to the service center on the carrier side,” she said.
Reardon and Bayles don’t want excuses they just want insurance they were required to sign up for by federal law.
“They haven’t gotten it right yet, I can’t trust them to get it right in the future,” said Reardon.
Editor’s note: After first talking with FOX31 Denver, Reardon was able to resolve her problem at the end of March, but she is unsure if her family will get the tax credits to lower her insurance rates. Bayles is still waiting for a resolution on his issue.