One Cent

Via the Denver Post, a story that will surely warm the hearts of insurance executives and stockholders everywhere!

La Rosa Carrington has more than enough to worry about. She’s a single mother with two teenage daughters, she’s fighting a type of leukemia that requires five days of chemo a month for four months, and she lost her job in May.

So the last thing she needed was news that her health insurance benefits would be terminated because she hadn’t paid her premium in full. The shortfall? One penny.

“My medical bills are coming in like locusts, and you’re holding up my benefits because of one red cent?” an incredulous Carrington said from her hospital bed last week as she recalled her conversation with a customer service rep at Discovery Benefits, an employee benefits administrator based in North Dakota.

Carrington said she talked twice to a customer service representative, who told her it was policy that the penny be received before the benefits could be reinstated. Write a check or send a money order, Carrington said the representative told her.

Carrington then asked to speak to a supervisor, who reiterated the company’s policy and wouldn’t budge on the penny. Carrington also threatened to take her case to the media, and that’s why she thinks the supervisor called her back with some good news: The supervisor had pulled out her own calculator, done the math — and determined that Carrington was correct.

4 thoughts on “One Cent

  1. You would think that the Health Insurance companies would be ecstatic that they got such a great deal for DunselCare AKA CrapCare that they would cut some people a LITTLE break…

    This is what happens when the bottom line is uber alles…


  2. Linked within the linked story:

    There are, indeed, others who have had the penny-owed experience, said June Harryman, supervisory benefits adviser for the federal Employee Benefits Security Administration regional office in Kansas City.

    “We’ve seen it before,” said Harryman, whose agency works on COBRA issues. “It’s not the first, and it won’t be the last.”

    It turns out that employers that carry the coverage or their benefits administrators can legally waive a penny, or any shortage less than 10 percent of the premium, and she’s not sure why many don’t.

    “It costs more to mail the notice than get the penny back,” she said.

    She’s not sure why a penny difference wouldn’t be waived … gee, I’m not sure either. Let’s try this on and see if it fits: the insurer’s people were just being properly concerned over the missing penny — or more accurately, fraction of a penny. Although there’s no reason in the law for them to have worried about an amount 1600 times more.

    COBRA. Aptly named. The proverbial man from Mars, not knowing anything about human feeling and seeing only how this played out, might guess that the insurer’s reps were in hopes that Carrington would die before they had to pay out, and that her take on it was perfectly accurate: “‘I’m in the hospital receiving chemotherapy; I can’t get you a money order,’” Carrington said she told the rep. “If this is how you treat people, you need spiritual training.”

    But that would be nuts…

  3. “It costs more to mail the notice than get the penny back,”
    Sure. But to mail the notice costs waaaaaaayyyyy less than continuing cancer treatments!
    Too bad the woman had enough smarts to threaten with the media – the company could have saved oodles of money!

Comments are closed.