Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stupid Carrier Tricks: EOY Edition

The Yiddish word for "scandal" is "shanda;" the term implies not just shame, but a sense of shock. And it's the perfect word to describe the letter I received this morning (note the date: December 23) from Humana:
"This letter is to inform you about a change in Humana's participating network...the difficult decision to discontinue our contract with Premier Health Partners effective January 1, 2009."
The missive is dated December 10.
Even with a platoon of Cliff Clavens, it doesn't take almost two weeks for these things to arrive; it's obvious that they held it back. And this is important: Premier comprises almost half of the hospitals in the Dayton area, as well as a huge chunk of associated providers (physicians, etc). Dropping this little bombshell at the end of the year makes it nearly impossible to move Humana insureds to other carriers by the first of January, leaving them vulnerable to out-of-network charges at the height of cold, flu and accident season.
This is unconscionable.
Yes, carriers routinely update their networks: providers come and go throughout the year. But this is wholesale change, at a time when their insureds can not easily transition to other carriers. I find it unlikely that Humana wasn't aware of this impending train-wreck until now, and wouldn't be surprised if this was exactly the result they wanted: insureds with few options, and little (or no) time to make appropriate changes.
I am appalled.
My first order of business, of course, is to see if I can move at least some of my Humana insureds to other plans; if not by January, then at least by February. This is important: deductibles accrue beginning on January 1, and expenses that satisfy one carrier's deductible aren't applicable to another's. The later in the year we move folks, the more they're likely to be hurt.
Thanks, Humana, for nothing.
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