“After an email exchange, HorizonBCBSNJ called and figured out that a 2018glitch’ delayed the mailing of the February bills,” Miller told me in an email. “I ended up paying over the phone.”
Miller said she turned to Twitter first because the last time she had an issue with Horizon 2014 with her website login 2014 “it took 40 minutes and two calls (including the part where the first person I talked to gave me the wrong number to call).”
“So when I had this issue, I tried Twitter first.”
Thomas Vincz, a spokesman for Horizon, wrote that the insurer has been deluged with new enrollees. More than half of its enrollment from HealthCare.gov, which is handling sign-ups for New Jersey, came between Dec. 15 and Dec. 24. “This crunch required intensive work in subsequent days and weeks to address many back end issues with enrollment verification and payment processing,” he wrote.
Horizon extended its hours, tripled its customer service staff and delayed payment deadlines, and things are returning to normal, Vincz said. “But we’re maintaining higher levels of customer service staffing to better assist our members during this busy time.”
Among companies receiving the most scorn is Anthem Blue Cross. Earlier this week, we reported how the company had canceled the policies of some consumers in California, then switched them into new plans and deducted the premiums automatically from their bank accounts. Needless to say, consumers who chose other insurance options were none too pleased.
Way to blame the Affordable Care Act for the reason why you won’t pick up the phone during business hours, @AnthemPR_CA. Classy.
The man who responds to those messages, spokesman Darrel Ng (@AnthemPR_CA), told me in an email that the insurer’s customers are interacting with companies in ways beyond the traditional phone call. “In response to this new demand, we created our customer service twitter account @AskAnthem several years ago to assist members. As consumers themselves started proactively contacting our other twitter accounts, we started directing these inquiries to customer service for assistance.”
The insurance company Aetna has a dedicated Twitter account, @AetnaHelp, to assist with customer service queries 2014 and it’s been busy lately.
@typeis4lovers Thanks for your email. We have reviewed your request and a response has been sent via email. Have a great Night! ^ TL
Spokesman Matt Wiggin said the beginning of the year is a busy time for the insurer and is particularly so this year because of the Affordable Care Act and its changing deadlines.
“There have been some instances where call volumes have been heavy and if people have not been able to get through or been able to get the information we need, they’ve either reached out to us through social media or other means available,” he said. “It’s just another way for folks to engage with us.”
Sometimes, Aetna’s tweets are even proactive. When a customer of Anthem Blue Cross tweeted dissatisfaction and said her business was up for grabs, Aetna’s customer service team chimed in.
@AdrianaK Hi. If you have questions about Aetna plans please let us know. Thanks! ^ TL
The California HealthCare Foundation has been tracking Twitter sentiment around the Affordable Care Act. In a report released last week, the foundation found that in general, there has been much less discussion about the law recently than there was in October when HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace, didn’t work. In December, the conversation shifted somewhat to the affordability of options.
Catherine Teare, a senior program officer for health reform and public programs at the foundation, said she doesn’t have data about consumers interacting with their plans on Twitter, but added that an uptick makes sense.
“I don’t think these tweets give us necessarily a way to grade either the performance of the insurance companies or of the exchanges, but we certainly didn’t see the complaints about insurance companies back in November because people weren’t that far through the process,” Teare said.
Even state insurance exchanges themselves are getting into the act, responding to Twitter queries lobbed their way. This from California:
@MamaEdits A household is what you claim it to be on your taxes.
Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for Covered California, said the exchange has a social media team that monitors its Twitter feed, Facebook pages and Instagram account around the clock.
“We actively respond to consumers using social media to answer their questions and to help them through the process,” Gonzales wrote. “We get as many as 500 Facebook posts a day, and the social media team answers up to 50 questions a day, so it’s becoming a valuable tool for people in need.”
Gonzales said the exchange’s Facebook and Twitter followers help each other out and compare notes. “People root each other on to get covered, and congratulate others on successful enrollment,” she wrote. “We recognize that social media is the resource of choice among younger, more tech-savvy consumers, and we are using it as a tool to get consumer feedback and to reach out to those experiencing difficulty in enrolling or getting information.”