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Coverage date change pays off for couple

I moved to Florida from New York on Aug. 26, 2003. While in New York, my medical insurance was an HMO plan with BlueCross BlueShield of New York, provided through my former employer. As of Sept. 3, 2003, Medicare has been my primary insurance, and a United Healthcare PPO with a $500 per person deductible the secondary. I was never informed that I had to disenroll from the HMO plan. When I found this out in March, I sent BlueCross of New York a letter to remove me from its HMO plan. It finally did so April 1. This is also the date that Medicare has on its records.

My wife and I have been going to the doctor, having lab work and various screening tests done. Any charges from Jan. 1 though April 1 have not been processed because Medicare records show that I was with an HMO, and BlueCross won't pay because these services were done out of network. Meanwhile, my monthly medical premiums have been paid to United Healthcare since Sept. 3.

I have been trying to get BlueCross to backdate my disenrollment date from April 1 to Sept. 3 so Medicare can correct its records. BlueCross says its system won't allow it to change that date. I worked with computers for more than 30 years, and I know changes can be made to records.

Because of this problem, I have been paying for all of our expenses from the beginning of the year through March. If this date does not get corrected, I will be out everything I have paid because only medical services after April 1 are being processed and going toward the deductible for this year. I hope you can help in this matter.

_ Robert Costello

We contacted BlueCross BlueShield of New York twice, the second time by certified mail, but have not heard back. We were therefore glad to get your message that you checked with Medicare and discovered that your disenrollment date from the HMO was corrected back to Sept. 30, 2003. We're doubly glad that you thought to check whether your wife, who is on your plan, had also been disenrolled. She had not. You were told to send in all the paperwork again so her records could be corrected. Let us know if this doesn't work, and we'll try again to light a fire under BlueCross.

Stolen rebate check inquiry goes on

I purchased a computer from Best Buy on March 21. It came with six rebates, all of which I have received except one for $150. When I called to check on this response, I was told the check had been cashed on May 3. All attempts to get a copy of the cashed check by myself and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office have failed. Can you help?

_ Walter Stackhouse

Unfortunately, we have fared no better, as you already know. But we're not giving up yet.

According to the letter you were sent by Tony Mason, senior representative with Best Buy's executive resolutions team, Best Buy is very sorry to learn "that the rebate check in question was apparently intercepted and cashed by someone other than you." He continued that he can understand your desire to obtain a copy of the cashed check, but that "verification that someone other than you cashed this check would not contribute to resolving this situation. I know it must be frustrating to know someone has illegally obtained a check which was sent to you. However, Best Buy cannot take responsibility for items which have been stolen. Therefore, we would be unable to replace the check."

Mason wants "you to know that Best Buy desires every experience to be a fun and positive one," and that he "will share your experience with the appropriate personnel in an effort to avoid such a similar situation from happening again in the future."

Here's what we propose to do: We will contact Mason and let him know that there is no expectation that Best Buy should replace a check that was apparently stolen and cashed. We will point out, however, that you and law enforcement nonetheless have valid reasons for wishing to receive a copy of the cashed check. You might, for instance, be able to determine who cashed it from the signature. Or here's another thought: Maybe the bank would want to know that it cashed a stolen check. We also will ask him how sharing your experience can prevent the theft of checks in the future. We'd really like to know.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, e-mail actionsptimes.com, or call your Action number, (727) 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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