N.H. seniors spared from Humana billing snafu

Unlike thousands of other seniors in the Northeast, New Hampshire subscribers to one insurer’s prescription drug plan were not affected by a billing error that could have cost them hundreds of dollars.

Nearly 14,000 seniors in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Jersey who subscribe to Medicare Part D prescription plans through Louisville, Ky.-based Humana received a letter last December stating that they were charged the wrong co-payment and that they would be billed for any payments owed.

The error occurred in 2006, when Humana inadvertently placed certain state prescription drug assistance program members in an incorrect payment category within the company’s computer system.

Mitch Lubitz, regional spokesperson for Humana, responded by e-mail saying Humana only began selling Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage in New Hampshire this past fall for the Jan. 1, 2007, coverage year. This was well after the billing issue, which was discovered during the summer.

Lubitz did not have the current number of Humana subscribers in New Hampshire, but estimated they were “minimal” at this point.

Humana offers three prescription drug plans in New Hampshire.

Humana announced earlier this month it will no longer be pursuing back payment for the billing error, but instead “would grant a hardship waiver to all affected members in all affected states” because most likely subscribers were probably those with low incomes.

During the same summer-fall 2006 timeframe, another billing glitch occurred at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which incorrectly withheld premiums from the Social Security checks of 700,000 Part D policyholders nationwide, including 1,300 Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield subscribers in New Hampshire. — CINDY KIBBE

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