NEW YORK—As many as 20,000 people who purchased health insurance from Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield will get three months of free coverage. The insurer agreed to provide free coverage and in some instances issue cash refunds following an investigation by the state into complaints from Empire’s health insurance customers.
Empire customers complained to the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) saying that Empire failed to send member identification cards and premium bills on time. Customers also complained that Empire failed to transfer them into appropriate plans and did not respond to phone inquiries.
DFS wrote to Empire on Jan. 9 urging the insurer to settle various complaints from customers who signed up for plans via New York State of Health, the state’s health marketplace.
“We acted swiftly to investigate these problems and work with Empire to correct them,” Benjamin Lawsky, the superintendent of DFS, stated in a press release. “We’re pleased that the company stepped up to acknowledge the issue and move to make progress toward fixing it.”
Empire customers who paid for care but did not receive it will receive cash refunds.
Empire also agreed to commit $2 million toward consumer education to encourage the uninsured and others to enroll in health insurance through New York state’s health marketplace.
The state will continue monitoring Empire to make sure the company is in compliance with the new agreement.
If you have a complaint about Empire or any other insurer, you may call the DFS hotline at (212) 480-6400 for help.