Anthem’s new billing proposal sparks blowback

Anthem Blue Cross Blue and Blue Shield is under fire for a plan to stop allowing its customers in California to pay their insurance premiums through automatic credit card billings.

Instead, if a patient wanted to pay their bill via credit card, they would have to call Anthem every month-and in the process incur a $15 “convenience fee” on credit card payments. The Los Angeles Times first reported the story earlier this month, sparking a bevy of complaints from customers, as well as scrutiny from the California’s attorney general.

Now, Sen. Richard Blumenthal is getting in on the action. In a letter to David Fusco, president of Connecticut-based insurance giant, Blumenthal called the move “anti-consumer” and asked Anthem “to explicitly disavow any intention to adopt this restrictive ‘pay to pay’ policy.”

He noted that Anthem was also proposing to eliminate other payment options, like bi-monthly or quarterly billing, in favor of monthly billing. “Taken together, this means that a consumer who wishes to pay by credit or debit card must pay an additional $180 per year,” Blumenthal wrote in his letter.

But well before Blumenthal weighed in, Anthem appeared to be softening its stance, telling the LA Times that its new policy imposing the $15 fee is on hold at least temporarily.

A spokeswoman for Anthem noted that the company doesn’t charge fees to policyholders in Connecticut.