Mar 13, 2008

Health Care Problems for 400? More

We've received a request to post further news on the growing medical coverage crises:

I was one of the 400 plus employees who left on the SSP on January 10. We were advised that we would receive information regarding payment of our March medical insurance payments by mid-February. When nothing arrived by February 25, I called LANL HR and found out that there had been a "delay" in transmitting the file to UHC but not to worry, I would not lose coverage. Sure enough, on March 1, I received a bill from UHC which I paid on line. However, the week of March 10, I have been trying to have UHC pay a bill for services for March to no avail. UHC shows me as not eligible for services. Needless to say, I have spent hours with UHC and no one can figure out what the problem is.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a non-retiring SSP, I share in your situation and problem. Received the UHC premium bill on March 1, paid it by mail March 4. On March 9 refilled a prescription only to be told I had no prescription insurance coverage. Called UHC the next day and was told I had no coverage of any kind. Called LANL HR and was told the glitch could be repaired right there from their end and if I didn't hear back from HR I should assume the problem was fixed. Riiiiight....still trying to verify if my coverage was re-activated.

Anonymous said...

Can't get my prescriptions refilled either thru Medco - same status - I am not covered. UHC claims my file has not been received from LANS.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the new LANL, operated by "for-profit" LANS LLC.

Perhaps you should complain to the Benefits departments over at Bechtel or BWXT.

Anonymous said...

I knew SSP was too good to be true.
I'm still glad I'm gone.

Anonymous said...

Just wait until LANS LLC start to "fix" the retirement medical problems at LANL. You SSP'ers will really love that one!

Anonymous said...

If LANS can't seem to handle simple medical billing issues, what do you think they are doing with our TCP1 pension assets? Just wait till you see the financial reports come out by this summer. I suspect it's going to be a real shocker for most folks.

Anonymous said...

If this mess continues, I will contact NNSA. Let's not forget that the LANS contract is based on performance and the HR process should get an unsatisfactory rating for this lack of ability to conduct something as simple as retiree medical. Anyone scheduled to retire soon should be very concerned. I have a friend who retired several months ago but according to the system is an active employee.

Anonymous said...

Los Alamos Alliance, e.g. Lockheed Martin/UT, should have filed a formal protest to DOE/NNSA when LANS, LLC was awarded the M&O contract of LANL (December 21, 2005), as Boeing is doing now after their loss (February 29, 2008) to Northrop Grumman/EADS, regarding the USAFs new $35 billion air-refueling tanker contract.

Anonymous said...

I retired since December. Here's what I got from HR:

Our HR Systems Team checked your record and there is nothing to indicate that you officially retired from UC. We checked with UC as well. If you have the paperwork that shows what Election you chose please let me know as soon as possible so we can proceed.

I sent them my documentation for confirmation. This is unfortunate for the retirees.

Anonymous said...

LANS/HR sends a eligible-for-coverage weekly file to Hewitt. Hewitt's software reads and filters out those with paid-up premiums, and sends a paid-up monthly file to UHC. Hewitt's database has to show you've paid up by COB 02/29 for you to be included in the March file to UHC. If you paid the March premium on 3/01 or later, you won't be. There's nothing wrong with the software; it's just bad timing but could/should LANS/HR have seen this one coming? Well, ...

Anonymous said...

Email: gsclose@lanl.gov if you are having a coverage issue and I'll correct it or confirm it has already been corrected.

I'll also be happy to provide an individual accounting of exactly what did or did not go wrong for any person who requests it. It is, of course, not nearly as simple a process as communicated in these posts, and there is room for error on the part of 5 different business entities (inc. LANL) as well as the employee which could interfere with enrollment/eligibility going smoothly.

I said it in the departure meetings and I'll say it again - we think our retirees and the SSP continuants are still part of the Lab community, and we are committed to fixing any issues that arise. If we aren't fixing it, see my email address above - we aren't hiding, we're actively fixing the limited number of records affected (not, as implied, anywhere near 400).

Thank you,
Greg Close
LANL, Benefits Team Leader

Anonymous said...

What is irksome about this is that during the SSP separation meetings, we were advised that we would receive the correspondence by mid-February regarding how and where to send our medical premiums. At no time did HR or LANS send us any communication that we would not receive the communication. Toward the end of February, I called Hewitt benefits and found out I did not exist in their system. I then called HR at the end of February and found out there was a "delay". And LANS gets what, over $60M a year, and is unable to send a simple form letter or email. This lack of process is exactly why the anti-nukes will continue to make a case regarding the Lab's inability to manage anything period.

Anonymous said...

Well, they are trying to do better.
Most recently, we have an on-site person to help with health claims:

Matthew Shivadecker
UHC Senior Client Resolution Specialist
On-Site Contact for Los Alamos National Labs
Phone: 505-665-1089
Fax: 262-313-4928
matthew_e_shivadecker@uhc.com

He is at LANL about half time. Thus far, he has been very helpful to me. For one thimg, you can get to him on the phone immediately, none of the long holds that you get with the UHC 800 number. And he is far more knowledgeable than any UHC person that I have ever spoke to.

This of course makes good business sense. He has handled my issues in minutes while I had spent many hours on the phone with UHC. Those hours came during the day and represented work not done.

Anonymous said...

"This lack of process is exactly why the anti-nukes will continue to make a case regarding the Lab's inability to manage anything period."

It isn't just the anti-nukes making that case.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Pinky. What would we do without you? It took a few comments on this blog to get the response from HR we should have gotten originally. Thank you Greg for your sincere response. Coordinating five entities sounds very complex but with all due respect, you and your team must know by now which employee's data is being rejected, notified us, and saved us the aggrevation of dealing with UHC direct bill, UHC medical, Hewitt benefits and Hewitt pension (each one having a unique ID number we need to provide) in addition to our physicians who are receiving ineligibility notices. This could have been prevented by a simple form letter.

Pinky and The Brain said...

That's very kind of you, thank you! I can't take the credit, but I'm happy if I have helped.

Hopefully everyone is taken care of now or will be ASAP.

Anonymous said...

I dealt personally with Greg Close last spring and summer when I retired and he was able to clear up several fogbanks put in place by both UC and LANS. He is extremely knowledgeable and very helpful, if you give him a chance by providing all information in detail and free of up-front hostility. Greg is a good guy.

Anonymous said...

"If this mess continues, I will contact NNSA." - 12:25 PM

You funny man. I know, why don't you bypass NNSA and call up Sam Bodman directly. I'm sure he'll get right on it.

Anonymous said...

I too, took the SSP (LOVE IT) and when I did not receive the promised bill for the continuance of my medical insurance as assured by mid February, I became worried.
My schedule allowed me to be out of town the last week of February. I called HR at LANS and was told to come to LANL (an old system) and make payment at the cashier’s office. When I got there I could not access the office of the Casher, as I have no Badge anymore. (a Q for 28 yrs).
More calls at LANS were made in the lobby. Who did you talk to? They asked? (I do not know, as I was transferred 5 times when I called to see what the problem was with my bill). I was escorted into the cashier’s office. They took my money.
I received the medical insurance bill from Hewlett on March 3rd, which was due on March 1, 2008 as they stated.
Called the billing agent of UHC, and Hewlett on the first week in March. (Telephone # on the billing.)
As of date 03-13-08, there is No record of me paying (PLEASE SOMBODY HELP)
I have a canceled check
Maybe a BIG SHOT will help, since they are trying to respond to this BLOG it seems.

Anonymous said...

"He is extremely knowledgeable and very helpful, if you give him a chance by providing all information in detail and free of up-front hostility."

It's pretty hard not to have some hostility towards a system that screws you royally after 23 years of service and 12.5 years of retirement. Clearly there are so many incompetent people at LANL, LANS, Hewitt, and UHC that it is impossible to figure out who is reponsible for folks losing their insurance coverage.

Solution - laywers, lawsuits for distress, Congressional delegation, publicity.

One can no longer just try to work the system because the system is BROKEN. And if they can't manage insurance correctly why would anyone expect them to manage plutonium safely!

The whole bunch of them are nothing but clowns.

Anonymous said...

On a slightly different note any one else notice that the budget crisis has disappeared and LANS is hiring like crazy?? Funny job ads though- finance, project managers, and other Bechtel types. I think this RIF was a bit of a dirty trick... And LANS wonders why its credibility is hosed.

Anonymous said...

Ok, this should be under a different topic, but responding to 3/13/08 10:02 PM, have all these funny divisions (Acquisition Services Management-ASM, Construction Management-CM, Cost Schedule & Estimating-CS, Engineering Services-ES) with these job ads been established just recently?

Anonymous said...

Further information on this topic can now be found here:

(1) Los Alamos National Laboratory medical plan to cover PMC.

(www.lanl.gov/news/index.php/fuseaction/home.story/story_id/12817)

(2) UnitedHealthcare™.

(www.myuhc.com)

Anonymous said...

I really can't respond generally on the blog to the comments directed at our process - what didn't work, how we could have fixed it, how simple it all should be, etc. I will be happy to respond to any emails directed to me about the process in general or in your specific case. Don't wait for a "big shot" to notice the blog, please just email me (not, in any way, a big shot).

As for us all being a bunch of clowns, well... I guess the onus is on us to make you reconsider that statement by continually improving our service.

I can't help much with annonymous complaints, but I can try to solve direct questions if you send them to me. At the very least, I want to be a helpful clown.

Greg Close
gsclose@lanl.gov

Anonymous said...

"One can no longer just try to work the system because the system is BROKEN." (9:45 PM)


How very true! LANL is badly broken at almost all levels right now: benefits handling, screwy cyber-security initiatives, non-existent support "help", poor managerial skills, rising cost issues, etc, etc, etc.

Almost nothing seems to work any longer at this lab. Is it any wonder that staff morale just keeps plunging lower and lower with each passing month?

LANL is not operating better since LANS took over. It's operating much worse.

Anonymous said...

7:08 pm: "LANL is not operating better since LANS took over. It's operating much worse."

How absolutely true. And how absolutely fundamental. Why don't the new LANL managers listen? Partly because some of them are truly working to better things, and truly think they are making a difference, while trying to appear as team players to LANS. Partly because many LANL upper managers just really don't care - they are watching their "Highest Annual Compensation" which directly affects their pension, rise each year while they hold their noses, and their breath, to the breaking point. No way to run a laboratory. Then, there are the well-intentioned, but absolutely wrong, managers who will drive LANL into the ground, like Wallace and Mara. I'm so glad I'm gone after so many years of cherishing my affiliation with LANL.

Anonymous said...

3/13/08 9:11 PM, it's a good thing you've taken the SSP & you're not making those phone calls from a Lab phone because it's policy to use the phone less than 15 minutes per day on personal calls - which would normally be a reasonable expectation except I don't think any call to UHC could ever accomplish anything in 15 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Greg Close, you are a big shot. One of the most knowledgeable, informed and HONEST managers in your field, speaking to employees and me lately. You helped me to make my decisions to leave the Lab. Thank you for offering to help SSPs, having trouble navigating the maze.
Matthew Shivadecker, was inspiring to me, exhibiting knowledgeable information and friendliness during the exit meetings (and afterward through the check out process)
Felt like the old days.
Thank you, I will E-mail you if I need help.

Anonymous said...

IMPORTANT UPDATE
SSP folk should have or should be receiving their HIPAA Certificate of Creditable Coverage soon. This is perfectly normal, although the language on these statements can be confusing (it is "model language" the carriers use, for legal purposes) the important thing to note: this only means your "active" coverage has ended, not that your DWMBP or Retiree Health benefits are canceled. Any questions on these, please call LANL Benefits FIRST - we can check the status of your benefits with any/all carriers and confirm current coverage. Legally, UHC must send this notice - it's not an attempt to drive you crazy, and no need to panic. Despite appearances, this actually means things are "working."

One of the people I spoke with today suggested I post this, here - hope it's helpful.

Thanks,
Greg Close
gslcose@lanl.gov

Pinky and The Brain said...

That email appears to be a typo. Use gsclose@lanl.gov instead.