Edwin Pina talks to a Florida Blue representative on the phone about his wife Nilda’s health insurance policy. On this day, they were trying to pay their bill for February.
WFLA's Lauren Mayk interviews John Fearnow about his new insurance and recent surgery.
TGH thoracic surgeon, Dr. Eric Sommers talks with WFLA's Lauren Mayk
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -
The rollout of new health insurance plans hampered by a problematic healthcare.gov website has continued to be bumpy through January for some consumers who haven't been able to use their new insurance.
Delays in getting insurance cards and ID numbers for new plans they bought through the federal insurance marketplace stretched through the month of January for some Florida Blue customers.
Asked about the issue by News Channel 8, Florida Blue issued a statement saying cards were mailed last week to members who didn't have them but purchased insurance to start January 1. Those cards should arrive within the week, the statement said.
The delay has caused frustration for some customers who say they've spent hours on the phone, trying to get ID numbers to show doctors who require them to provide treatment and in some cases make appointments.
Nilda Pina said she signed up for insurance through the marketplace with Florida Blue in December, but still hadn't gotten an ID card by the end of January.
"They said it's a glitch in the system," Pina said.
The wait worried Pina and her husband, because it caused her to put off seeing a primary care physician to get new prescriptions for heart, thyroid and blood pressure conditions.
Pina also says she was told by an optometrist in mid December that she should have a cataract procedure on her right eye within two months. Since then, Pina says her vision has continued to deteriorate.
"It's very foggy," said Pina, who covers one eye with her hand to see better but says she still can't read labels on food or medicine and relies on the shape and look of the containers to tell them apart (along with some help from her husband).
Pina said she was nervous about losing her sight, and wants to be able to see her eleven grandchildren as they mark life milestones.
"I want to see them grow up, I want to see them graduate and I want to see them get married," she said.
After News Channel 8 contacted Florida Blue and the Florida Insurance Consumer Advocate's office about her case, Pina said she was contacted by a Florida Blue representative who was preparing authorization forms for her doctors and for the pharmacy to get her medication.
In the statement emailed to News Channel 8, Florida Blue said it "truly appreciates the patience our members have shown during the marketplace enrollment process."
"Marketplace enrollment is new to everyone involved," the statement said. "The process relies on the converging of data from a number of independent systems from both government and private organizations. The complexity of this gathering and verifying of data has resulted in the entire process taking much longer than we anticipated."
The extra time and trouble has been worth it for some customers.
John Fearnow says getting insurance was difficult before the Affordable Care Act because of a pre-existing condition. The new insurance he bought with Florida Blue afforded him the chance to get surgery for esophageal cancer at Tampa General Hospital last month, though the surgery was postponed once because of he didn't have an ID number.
"It's a start," Fearnow said. "It may need tweaked it may need something fixed here, there and yonder but it's a start because there's so many people in our country like me that wanted health insurance, was willing to pay for health insurance but could not get it."