Long Wait Times Continue at Covered California Call Centers
Nearly half of consumers who sought assistance from Covered California call centers in February and March abandoned their efforts because of long wait times or other problems, according to state data, the Los Angeles Times' "Money & Co." reports.
Details of Call Center Issues
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said that over the past several months wait times at the insurance exchange's call centers have been reduced from 50 minutes to 30 minutes.
However, according to state data:
- Fewer than 5% of calls are answered within 30 seconds; and
- About 33% of callers reported a busy signal when they call.
Meanwhile, 40% of residents said the enrollment process was difficult.
In preparation for the March 31 open enrollment deadline, the state has hired more call center employees and increased phone capacity to assist consumers (Terhune, "Money & Co.," Los Angeles Times, 3/20).
The exchange also announced that it will stay open on weekends through the end of open enrollment (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 3/20).
Payments to Enrollment Counselors Delayed
In related news, enrollment counselors who help consumers select and sign up for health plans through the exchange have criticized Covered California for delays in their pay.
According to "Money & Co.," Covered California pays counselors $58 for each successful enrollment.
However, exchange officials said the first payments were not sent until March 14 because of delays caused by:
- The logistics of developing and launching of a new system; and
- A high number of enrollments.