By Chad Terhune
August 23, 2018
Ashley Summers said she got an unpleasant surprise in February when she tried to pick up a prescription for her rheumatoid arthritis: Her pharmacy said her insurance had been canceled, even though her premiums were paid.
Summers called Blue Shield of California and got her policy reinstated — then she said it happened again in March and this time, the lapse in coverage dragged on for three months.
Without insurance to cover her medications and doctor visits, her arthritis and fibromyalgia worsened to the point that she could barely walk, she said. In June, she said, the state granted her permission to switch to another insurer.
“This entire mess has been so incredibly stressful,” said Summers, 49, a personal assistant in Los Angeles who had paid $593 a month in premiums. “For Blue Shield just to pull the plug like this is infuriating.”
Around the state, consumers with individual Blue Shield policies, like Summers, say they have been subject to sudden, erroneous cancellations, especially in recent months, forcing them to go without heart medicine, skip vaccinations for their children and pay hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket for other medical care. On social media, customers have described frantic attempts to get their coverage reinstated.