Thousands of Tricare beneficiaries woke up to bills about 100 times higher than normal on December 5. Patients faced monthly premium bills that were thousands more than usual due to a “processing error,” according to Humana.
Tricare Accidentally Bills Patients 100 Times of Actual Cost
All told, about 26,000 beneficiaries were impacted due to this billing error from Humana, which manages the Tricare East region. Among those impacted were retirees using Tricare Prime, as well as families using Tricare Reserve Select, Tricare Retired Reserve and Tricare Young Adult. Users saw bills ranging from $2,400 to $108,400 or approximately 100 times the normal monthly premiums charged.
Customers were alerted upon receiving calls from banks and credit card companies, inquiring about the unusually large charge from Tricare and Humana. Many customers reported that their credit card company or bank declined to process the pending charges altogether.
Military Families Face Uncertainty Due to Billing SNAFU
As customers began to learn of the billing error, many expressed concern about both the charges and their continued health insurance coverage.
Beneficiaries took action quickly. Some cancelled credit cards, concerned about possible fraud or stolen identities.
Tammy Austin, the spouse of a retired Army First Sergeant, immediately cancelled her credit cards. Then the worry about insurance for her children kicked in.
“It caused a lot of anxiety. My daughter has an autoimmune disease and I worried that if she had a flareup she wouldn’t be covered,” Austin said. “They check your insurance when you go to the doctor — all these thoughts were running through my head at 100 miles per hour.”
In addition to her daughter’s Tricare Young Adult insurance, Austin also worried about coverage for her son on the same plan. Humana had attempted to charge him $8,500. Luckily, USAA refused the charge and notified him immediately.
Other customers who were billed incorrectly took to social media to spread the word and express outrage.
Bradley Foley, @bfoleyus, Tweeted:
@tricare@Humana just billed my credit card 100x my monthly premium. Guess they forgot the decimal. #Mathematician
Another customer, Rdan Golden-Castano, @rodangol, shared his thoughts on Twitter as well.
Hey, @Humana, thanks for trying to charge $21,801.00 for my monthly premium.
Humana Responds to the Billing Errors
As reports of the incorrect charges filtered through to Humana and Tricare, the healthcare system responded.
“We pledge that we will do everything we can to ensure that beneficiaries are not adversely affected by this error, including covering overdraft and related fees. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and appreciate the patience shown by beneficiaries while we work to correct the problem,” Humana said in a prepared statement.
Humana offered extended customer service hours through the weekend following the billing issues. They pledged to work to make this right so that the incorrect charges didn’t impact lives.
According to a spokesman for the Defense Health Agency, all processed bills would be credited back to customers. Any customers with outstanding charges related to this matter should contact Humana or Tricare immediately.
Tricare & Humana Experience End of Year Tech Glitches
In addition to the December billing error, Tricare and Humana experienced issues with their open enrollment platform. Throughout the open enrollment period, from November 11 to December 9, users were unable to enroll or switch insurance plans online.
In order to make changes, beneficiaries had to call or submit forms via mail. Even changes made online that seemed to have gone through might not have registered in the system. If you made a change online during Tricare open enrollment, it is advised that you call Tricare to ensure that your enrollment was processed correctly.
The enrollment issues are particularly troubling since beneficiaries can only make changes once per year. Only qualifying life events allow changes to be made outside of open enrollment.
The most recent Tricare glitch, resulting in the incorrect and inflated charges to customers, remains under investigation as of mid-December.