CHICAGO (WLS) -- You rely on your insurance to be there when you need it most. The ABC 7 I-Team investigated sudden medical insurance cancellations and customers being billed thousands of dollars.
Two patients say their insurance was inadvertently cancelled and then it got worse-- they faced thousands of dollars in insurance premiums from the time period when they weren't covered.
The I-Team got answers to what happened.
"I have been dropped three times since January," said Blue Cross Blue Shield customer Patsy Oswalt. 'They kept telling me that 'it was IT problems.'"
Patsy Oswalt of Forest Park has endured two heart attacks and an irregular heartbeat. After being hospitalized last December, she made sure to renew her health insurance with Blue Cross Blue Shield early during January-enrollment. Soon after, she was mysteriously dropped.
"A doctor was going to see me, I was not feeling good and she said to me, 'Oh I'm sorry but you don't have insurance.' I felt really sick," said Oswalt.
Oswalt had paid her premium. Blue Cross told her to reschedule that doctor appointment. They would reactivate her insurance. But after the appointment, she was dropped again and her premiums refunded.
"I went to get my medicine and they told me, that I have no insurance," said Oswalt.
Oswalt spent hours on the phone trying to get reinstated. Earlier this month, Blue Cross told her they would need $2,800 within five days for her premiums during the time period when she was technically not covered. She filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Insurance.
"I've spoken to other families and they said they did the same thing to me," said Oswalt. "I was able to come up with all that money but what about all those families that can't come up with that money?"
Martin Glochowsky, a Chicago physician and longtime Blue Cross Blue Shield customer, had a similar problem.
"I've never missed a payment on my medical insurance, I never asked to have my medical insurance canceled," said Glochowsky.
Glochowsky also made sure to sign-up for coverage at the beginning of 2017, after being hospitalized in December. He too was quickly dropped.
"I'm fortunate it didn't happen in January. It was a $40,000 hospital bill," said Glochowsky. "I do have insurance now, but they are asking me to pay for three months when I did not have active insurance."
Blue Cross told the I-Team in a statement:
"During this year's open enrollment, we successfully enrolled hundreds of thousands of members in our plans. However, we regret that a small number of these members encountered unique, complex issues confirming or obtaining their coverage. We are committed to serving the people of Illinois and have ongoing efforts to provide the high level of customer service Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois members deserve."
"Each situation is unique and we have continued to work with both Ms. Oswalt and Dr. Glochowsky to resolve their issues fairly, but in some instances during a prolonged enrollment process, members are asked to provide premiums for periods when they are able to access coverage."
Martin Glochowsky was recently told by Blue Cross that he won't be charged for the first quarter of 2017. No word yet on Patsy Oswalt's bill.
Blue Cross Blue Shield says they worked with both customers to resolve their issues fairly.
Blue Cross Blue Shield says that if a member is having an issue with their Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance coverage, the company advises members to call the number on their membership card where Blue Cross can offer assistance.
Customers say health insurance cancelled without notice
An ABC 7 I-Team Investigation