A couple days after his stomach virus ran its course, Cuillo got a letter in the mail, telling him the premium and how to pay it online. But the website wouldn’t open.
“I can mail it in to them, but I feel a little uncomfortable sending a check in the mail to people who don’t answer the phone,” Cuillo said. “How do I know it’ll even get there?”
Elizabeth Benjamin is from the Community Service Society, one of many private organizations around the state helping people enroll.
“I think we were all surprised that New York’s blue-ribbon carrier is the carrier that’s had, apparently, the most bumpy of roll-outs,” Benjamin said. “I think a lot of folks enrolled in Empire because of its incredible reputation, and everyone’s a little flummoxed about why these problems are occurring.”
Empire spokeswoman Sally Kweskin said in her email that the company is adding phone operators, expanding business hours and mailing out letters to customers telling them they will receive invoices and ID cards as soon as possible.
Frescatore says Empire customers will get extra time to pay their first bill.
“If an individual applied by the December 24th due date, and they pay their premium within 10 days of receiving their invoice, their coverage is retroactive to January 1st,” she said.
But some customers have said that’s too little too late.
“We’re done,” Sean Hayden says.
Hayden was an Empire policy holder for many years and gravitated toward it again when he went on the exchange to purchase new coverage. He then spent more than six weeks trying to confirm he and his partner were enrolled with Empire, before giving up and going with a cheaper rival plan.
People have until the end of March to sign up for 2014 coverage.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
Tue, Jan 14 2014