If you thought the prospect of $298 million in refunds to a million and a half Blue Cross-Blue Shield policyholders would make everybody happy, you thought wrong.
Since the refund plan was announced, this office has been swamped with calls -- many of them angry calls -- from people complaining about the size of the refunds or the procedures and eligibility for the refunds. Nearly 200,000 people here are eligible for the checks, which probably will not be mailed out until sometime this fall.
Blue Cross-Blue Shield says it is making the refunds -- ranging from $18 to $374 -- because its policyholders aren't submitting as many claims as had been anticipated. Savings to the plan cover part of 1984 and 1985 to date. Only this year's policyholders are eligible for the rebates.
Here are some of the written comments to the Monday Morning Quarterback: "My husband, a federal employe, had Blue Cross-Blue Shield's high-option family plan for four years. The premiums were very, very high and we switched to a less expensive plan last year. Now we are told that the refunds will be made only to people who currently have Blue Cross-Blue Shield insurance. I think that former policyholders who paid those high premiums for years should be entitled to the refunds too." M.H., Bethesda
* "I subscribe to the Blue Cross-Blue Shield low-option family plan, which means my refund will be $79. If I had taken out the high-option plan, my refund would be $374. I didn't take the high-option because the premiums were too high. I don't think it is fair that those of us who couldn't afford the higher coverage are now being penalized again by getting lower refunds." D.C. Subscriber
* "I think the refunds should go to all federal government employes, not just to Blue Cross-Blue Shield subscribers. We are all enrolled in the same federal health program, so we should all get the same refund." J.S., Arlington
* "The procedure Blue Cross-Blue Shield has set up for handling the so-called refunds is ridiculous. Each person must call the toll-free number (800) 253-0123 to apply for a refund application. What about people who don't call? Or what about the long delay -- without any interest payment -- in getting our refunds to us? The insurance company has our names and type of coverage in its computers. Why can't they simply send the refunds without making us apply?" R.H., Bowie
* "I do not have Blue Cross-Blue Shield coverage. The plan I am enrolled in does not plan to make any kind of refund, although I suspect it has experienced the same decrease in utilization as have other health plans. I don't think the government should allow a select few people, i.e., Blue Cross-Blue Shield policyholders, to have refunds when persons in other plans cannot get them." M.N., Arlington
* "I can't believe that the news media has given such prominent play to the proposed refunds. Granted, it is a lot of money, but the insurance company is simply giving us back money that we overpaid. So what is the big deal?" R.A., Rockville