At least 9,500 customers at Florida’s largest health insurer were stunned by out-of-control repeating hits on their bank accounts causing overdrafts up to $40,000 or more, The Palm Beach Post learned Tuesday.
Heidi Shade of Lake Worth said her family’s account was debited 26 times for more than $7,000 as Florida Blue’s May bills went out, but the confusion won’t seem to end.
“I called my bank and they fixed my account,” Shade said. “Then last night Florida Blue transferred it all back. Now I have to figure out how to get them the money back. What a mess and inconvenience this is.”
Florida Blue, which has about 4 million customers statewide, said it was working hard to make customers whole and minimize disruption.
“Based on our analysis, approximately 9,500 Florida Blue members had payments withdrawn from their bank accounts multiple times over the weekend,” spokesman Paul Kluding said in a statement.”Within 24 hours of becoming aware of the issue, we initiated charge reversals for all impacted members. Some members have already seen refunds reflected in their accounts. Other refunds are currently being processed by members’ financial institutions.”
In response to questions from the Post, the company said it was in communication with banks who serve its members.
“We are working directly with banking institutions across the state,” Kluding said. “We have notified them of the issue in an effort to have all late charges and associated fees removed from these members’ accounts. However, if members are charged banking fees surrounding this issue we will reimburse our members for these charges.”
The fees can be substantial. Take a customer in West Palm Beach who told the Post what should have been a monthly premium payment of just under $1,100 instead resulted in his account being overdrawn by more than $40,000. That kicked up about $1,400 in bank fees, he said.
A day earlier, company officials said “we were notified of a payment processing issue that occurred over the weekend with one of our vendors. This issue resulted in some members’ accounts being drafted multiple times for their May invoice. We are very sorry for the problems this is causing our members. We are addressing the situation as quickly as possible.”
Customers with questions or continuing problems can visit the company’s website, floridablue.com, or call the number on the back of their member ID card, or visit the company’s walk-in service center in Boynton Beach, officials said.
“I’m going to try to go to the bank after work,” Shade said. “Such a pain to do all this.”