Monday, February 8, 2016

Not sure if we can help you with an insurance problem? Ask us anyway

Recently, a Washington consumer posted a story on Facebook about her brother, who was on the waiting list for a heart transplant but was being put on hold because of “paperwork” issues with the insurance company. She asked her Facebook friends to file a complaint with the Insurance Commissioner, resulting in more than 40 complaints to our office.

One of our consumer advocates looked into the complaint and determined that the insurance provider was Apple Health, our state’s Medicaid program that is overseen by the Washington state Health Care Authority. In other words, we have no authority over the plan. But that didn’t deter our consumer advocate from trying to help.

First, we reached out to the Facebook user and asked her to let people know that they should contact the Health Care Authority with complaints about Apple Health. Then our consumer advocates reached out to the Health Care Authority to make sure this complaint was received and addressed as a high priority. The next day, we got an email from the concerned sister that said, “Thank you so much for your response and directing my complaint to the proper department. Today (my brother) got his insurance straightened out and is back at A1 status. Thanks again!”

We want people to be aware of this for two reasons: First, helping consumers access insurance is one of our missions, even if it’s not something we regulate. So even if you’re not sure if we can help you, reach out to us anyway. If we can’t help, chances are that we know someone who can. Second, social media is a powerful tool and is a way to quickly escalate a consumer problem. We have a robust social media presence, so don’t be afraid to reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter. We will make sure to get you to the right person.

Here’s how you can reach us: