bad experiences w/Cigna or Blue Cross Blue Shield?

andreagbJune 28, 2006

Can I ask whether anyone's willing to volunteer their irritating health-care experiences, in somewhat shortened form?

Our employer has just been OK'd to join the state of NM healthcare pool, and so we get the chance to switch our insurer. We travel a lot, both in and outside the US (I research Central Europe, DH is from and researches Peru), so the HMO is out. That leaves either a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO or Cigna.

Has anyone had nasty Cigna or BCBS struggles? I'm trying to figure out whether Cigna's worth saving $1K/year -- we are currently with BCBS and like them fine, but it costs us an arm and a leg.


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I've had both. Blue Shield was a constant NIGHTMARE. Anytime I had more than a runny nose I had an insurance battle to deal with. One time my dh went to the emergency room with chest pains and they sent us the bill because he wasn't having a heart attack. NO JOKE. Another time I got a bill from a hospital for me that I had never stepped foot in. Another time they randomly changed my doctor to a doctor 75 miles away and I had to fight to get them to change it back. I could go on and on and on and on with stories about having Blue Shield.

Cigna, on the other hand, was a dream. I never had to battle anything, and they paid for both of my surgeries last year without blinking an eye. Including the uber expensive breat MRI that when I was there, they mentioned that they were having issues with women getting MRI's paid for through Blue Sheild (no suprise) and these were women with diagnosed breast cancer. Cigna also paid for my leg surgery the year before (leaking artery) which Blue Shield probably would have argued was cosmetic, since it stopped the big blue bruise on my leg. They gave me full reign to see any specialist my doctor asked for (we had HMO too) and were amazing about it.

We had Cigna through Disney and they even had a special number for Disney castmembers to call, versus the regular customer service number, and special people that handled only Disney patients. It was very impressive. Having Cigna was the one good thing about working for Disney.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 2:21AM
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I think BCBS varies by state - I'm in Minnesota. I have it now - PPO with reduced out of network coverage. It's been excellent and I have a few out of the ordinary things to be covered that can be a significant problem with many carriers. I've never had Cigna.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 10:12AM
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There are different BCBS organizations as gibby said. I had Empire BCBS and had some difficulty with them. They wouldn't cover a surgical procedure I needed, so I had pay to about 20k out of pocket after exhausting the appeals process. They did initially pay the hospital and anaesthesiologist bills. But after my first appeal for the surgeon's fees, they rescinded payment of the anesthesiologist so I was socked with another few thousand. After that I asked if they would also rescind the hospital payment if I filed the next level of appeal, and the customer service person replied "you never know, we might". Great company to do business with - NOT.

It's interesting to note that my procedure was specifically covered by a different BCBS organization, but Empire BCBS wasn't interested in hearing about it.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 11:29AM
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Thanks, all. We have been having such a hard time getting basic information! DH has called Cigna three times about what they cover outside the country, and has gotten three different answers. That's enough to put us off right there: if the company representatives can't answer that question easily, getting reimbursed for care is going to be a huge headache. BCBS has a network abroad, by contrast. And we have had very good experiences with BCBS here: informed, helpful, flexible, willing to wiggle deadlines etc to help us get stuff covered.

Somehow we always wind up choosing the most expensive option for everything. Verizon cellphones. BCBS PPO. I keep thinking we must be making some kind of mistake. (or maybe it's that healthcare in this country is screwed up, and we just have crappy choices to choose among?)

Anyway, thanks for your input. Hope the bad BCBS experiences don't follow us here!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 10:38PM
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I have a private policy for Kathleen with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and although we've only had them for a short time, we've wrung up MORE than enough bills to go past the annual deductable, and we've yet to have a problem with getting bills taken care of, and she's having problems with everything from Lupis (including an old back injury being aggravated by the fibromialgia) to circulation problems and high blood pressure. Not one problem. (KNOCK ON WOOD!)

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 10:52PM
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It is my experience that the health insurance companies in general will try to get out of paying as much as they can. I doubt that one is any better than the other. They are all out to make money (just like propety insurers).

IMHO, they "deny" a lot, with the full knowledge that most of us will not fight it, and just pay out of pocket.

So, no matter who you have, follow up, write letters, and raise a stink when you are denied. Don't just assume that if they deny something that is automatically the end of it.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2006 at 2:06PM
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FWIW We've been with Cigna PPO for the last several years with no real problems. Got the referrals we've needed, etc.
Only see a bill when we've been to the hospital ER or had to get Xrays.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 12:39PM
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I've had nothing but positive experiences with BC/BS PPO in Virginia, going on over ten years.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:15PM
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We were with Cigna for a short time. After 27 phone calls to just schedule an MRI, I'd had it big time! Now we are with Aetna and it is so much better.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 9:43AM
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