Newly retired NC teachers may be denied access to health care

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Newly retired teachers in our state could be denied health care due to a computer glitch.

“I went to the doctor and was turned away,” said Kim Halden, who retired July 1 from Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools after 41 years in education. “I was told I didn't have health coverage -- that it was inactive.”

After calling Blue Cross Blue Shield and her local representative, Halden learned a glitch with a third-party vendor, that process insurance claims, is listing her and possibly thousands of other newly retired teachers as inactive when doctors and pharmacists  try to file insurance claims.

A spokesman with Blue Cross Blue Shield confirmed the vendor glitch. The third-party vendor is hired by the state treasurer's office.

“When I call [Treasurer Janet Cowell’s] office I was told they are working on it,” said Halden. “That's not the answer when you need health care -- hearing they are working on it and you keep being told, ‘Well it will be fixed in a couple of hours, it will be fixed in a couple days.’ I'm very tenacious and I wasn't going to let it go.”

Halden, who needed her insulin, couldn’t wait on a computer glitch to be resolved. She contacted state lawmakers who were able to get her individual case resolved.

“I feel for all the teachers that think they have coverage and they are going to find out they don't. It won’t just affect them but members of their family.”

FOX8 contacted Treasurer Cowell’s office Monday afternoon via phone and email and received the following update Tuesday morning.

"The State Health Plan implemented a new contract for eligibility and enrollment services beginning June 1, 2015. Since the June 1 effective date, there have been issues in transmitting eligibility and enrollment files to the Plan’s other vendor partners. The State Health Plan is aware of the issues and addressing fixes as quickly as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience."