Consumers Face Long Delays at Covered California Call Centers
Consumers faced difficulty reaching enrollment counselors through Covered California's call centers leading up to Wednesday's deadline to obtain health coverage that starts Feb. 1, with some being placed on hold for as long as 97 minutes, the Ventura County Star reports.
Details of Call Center Problems
Covered California officials said the exchange received 75,995 calls in the week ending Jan. 11. However, the exchange has only 1,288 phone lines, which caused significant delays in getting consumers connected to a live person, according to the Star.
During that week, the average wait time for the exchange's call centers was more than 49 minutes, compared with less than three minutes in November.
Some consumers received an automated message telling them to visit the exchange's website and then were disconnected, while others reached a representative but were then told to call their insurer.
Addressing the Problems
In order to more effectively help consumers, exchange spokesperson Roy Kennedy said Covered California plans to:
- Add call center staff; and
- Expand the number of phone lines.
Kennedy said that individuals who cannot get through to the call centers should visit Medi-Cal eligibility offices or the exchange website for help obtaining coverage. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Insurers Report Heavy Call Volume
Insurers also have been inundated with calls from consumers, many of whom are worried about missing invoices for the first month of premiums, the Star reports.
Blue Shield of California reported receiving 57,000 calls per day, while WellPoint -- parent company of Anthem Blue Cross -- said it received nearly one million calls during the first two business days of January.
Anthem spokesperson Darrel Ng said one million calls is more than the company usually receives in an entire month.
In response, the insurers have hired more customer service representatives and shifted staff from other positions to help answer calls (Kisken, Ventura County Star, 1/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.