The Executive Director of Covered California, Peter Lee, insinuated that Californians are being lazy when it comes to paying for the first month’s premium of their new health plan. Lee’s statement, released in a press announcement on Friday, would be laughable if it wasn’t insanely out of touch with reality. Californians have been stymied from making their first month’s premium payment because of the failures at Covered California.
Peter Lee insinuates Californians may be lazy at paying invoice
In a press release to announce a new marketing effort to augment the previously unsuccessful attempts to encourage Spanish-speaking residents to enroll, Peter Lee was quoted as saying, “We are urging our enrollees to be proactive right now to make their first premium payment before next Wednesday.” Obviously, the Executive Director believes Californians are being “inactive” in their attempts to pay the health insurance premiums. If you are inactive, not proactive, you must be lazy. But how can you pay an invoice you haven’t received?
Why does Lee need to insult Californians?
Why is Mr. Lee chastising those Californians who dutifully followed the rules in October, November and December, and have yet to receive an invoice. These people are contacting Covered California, their insurance agents and me trying to figure out how to pay their bills. For Mr. Lee to insinuate that individuals and families who have enrolled and haven’t paid their premiums are “inactive” or “lazy” is just a baseline insult.
Covered California created chaos
It is Covered California that has created all the challenges and chaos surrounding people paying their health insurance premium.
- They ignored paper applications sent in by insurance agents.
- The website has and remains temperamental and unwieldy for many people.
- They haven’t been able to accurately transmit the enrollment data to the carriers.
- They forced the cancellation of plans on Dec. 31 leading to a flood of enrollments on December 23rd, effectively crashing the website.
- They extended the deadline for enrollment and put the carriers in the untenable position of extending payment deadlines because they couldn’t generate invoices fast enough.
See: Covered California ignores woman’s plea for health insurance, Covered California creates confusion with extended payment deadline, Prescription help for ACA members with no health insurance, Paper applications cause headaches for Covered California
Long hold times at Covered California created by lazy people
Perhaps one of the best indicators that Californians are not lazy and truly want to pay their bill is the statistics released by Covered California. From December 29th – January 4th there were 65,206 calls to Covered California for assistance and the average wait time was 45 minutes. I can only imagine that both the volume and wait times have increased since that week as people became very “pro-active” in wanting to pay their health plan premium. My blog post “Where’s the Covered California Invoice?” has received thousands page views from “proactive” people struggling to learn how to pay their premium.
Covered California shirks responsibility
Peter Lee’s shifting of responsibility away from Covered California is standard operating procedure. From Covered California’s perspective it is always the fault of the consumer or agent when there are problems with the website, the application or no invoice has arrived. Covered California makes no errors. Their system works flawlessly. It is the laziness of Californians and the stupidity of agents that have cause the mess. Yet, when you ask Covered California to verify that they sent the application to the carrier, they just shrug their shoulders and say, “You need to call the carrier.” See: The many failures of Covered California in 2013
Homeless people just aren’t proactive
And what does Mr. Lee say to the number of homeless men and women who have tried to enroll in Medi-Cal through Covered California but are denied because they have no residence? Do those individual’s need to be more “proactive” Mr. Lee? How does one verify an address that doesn’t exist? Peter Lee is out of touch with the challenges ordinary Californians are facing when they attempt to secure health insurance through Covered California.
Why aren’t the Spanish speakers listening to our jingles?
I suppose Peter Lee will accuse the Hispanic speaking community of not listening to the Covered California radio ads as the reason so few Spanish speakers have signed up. All the Covered California training I attended emphasized that the Spanish speaking population was the primary target market for open enrollment. As of latest enrollment numbers, Spanish speakers were making up only 5% of the applications when they should have been 20%. Peter Lee must figure he needs to yell louder at the deaf person to get them to hear his message.
Setting up the next excuse for failed enrollments
While I am loath to be conspiratorial, it could be that Lee is setting up a defense for the potentially thousands of people who applied but didn’t get coverage effective January 1, 2014, the day Covered California promised people could have affordable health insurance. I already know of a small group who won’t get covered by January 1st. The Covered California small group SHOP representative told me the website is hopelessly broken. The only way to get the group started is with a paper application. The owner of this small business started the small group application online in early December. He was then thwarted from completing it because of Covered California programming errors.
Covered California proactive in deflecting responsibility
It will be so much easier for Covered California if they can deflect any responsibility for Californians not getting coverage because those individuals, families and small groups just weren’t “proactive” enough. Peter Lee and the Covered California Board need to step into reality and hear first hand the obstacle course they have built that has prevented people from getting health insurance. All the Californians thwarted from getting coverage starting January 1st will not have missed it because they were lazy like Mr. Lee insinuates. You can only fight government so long before you give up and walk away.
Covered California Press Release
|Jan. 9, 2014||Media Line: (916) 205-8403|
COVERED CALIFORNIA UNVEILS NEW BILINGUAL ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN TO INFORM CONSUMERS ON HOW TO GET COVERED
Additional Radio Ads Scheduled to Remind Enrollees to Pay their First Premium Before Jan. 15, 2014
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Covered California™ today unveiled its new, statewide television advertisement campaign that includes an intensified effort to reach Spanish- speaking Californians as well as radio advertisements that remind enrollees to make their first premium payment to start coverage.
The television ads focus on straightforward facts about Covered California, and the steps Californians need to take to get affordable health care coverage before the open enrollment period ends on March 31, 2014. The radio ads, scheduled to run this weekend, will help remind those consumers who have signed up for coverage beginning in January of the upcoming Wednesday, Jan. 15 deadline to pay their first premium.
“Covered California offers affordable, quality health care coverage, and we are working hard to get the word out and encourage enrollment,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “This advertising effort addresses frequently asked questions, and encourages all Californians to seek coverage and reminds them of key deadlines for coverage.”
The new television ads will supplement the current advertising effort that includes ads focusing on common health scenarios that Californians could face, including injuries and illnesses. The new ads build on this effort by providing easy-to-understand facts about Covered California for those considering signing up for coverage. The Spanish- language television advertising will be augmented by Spanish-language direct mail pieces.
“Covered California’s direct mail campaign for Spanish-speaking households marks an intensified effort to reach out to the Latino community in California,” said Lee.
With the Jan. 15 payment deadlines fast approaching, Covered California also recently added a “How to Pay” feature to the website at www.CoveredCA.com. The new feature provides information with payment options, contact information for each health plan sold through Covered California and helpful answers to frequently asked questions: https://www.
“We are urging our enrollees to be proactive right now to make their first premium payment before next Wednesday,” added Lee. “In addition, Jan. 15 also marks the deadline for consumers to enroll for coverage beginning Feb. 1.”
The new television ads are available on Covered California’s news section atwww.CoveredCA.com/news/.