Volume 92, Issue 36

Friday, November 6, 1998

bigger than the post


More health plan problems arise

By Sabrina Carinci and Becky Somerville
Gazette Staff

Some students have had problems when using their university health plan cards at local pharmacies, an inconvenience which may be minimal, yet distressing for students.

The problem, which is forcing some students to pay full price for their prescriptions at the drug counter, has been occurring randomly and is requiring these students to file manual claims with InfoSource.

Jim Walden, general manager of the University Students' Council, said although there have been some problems with the health plan, it is still unknown exactly what is the cause. "As of the last reading, we didn't know what it was," he said.

Shannon Courtney, a pharmacist technician at Masonville Place's Shopper's Drug Mart, said the problem was a result of group numbers which were inactive. "We can't bill any of the students until it's fixed," she said. Since Wednesday the cards seemed to be working fine, she added.

Students who had to pay full price for their prescriptions as a result of the problem were very angry with the university, Courtney said. "There has been a couple dozen [problems] a day since the beginning of the year."

Walden said the complication appears to be a communicative one between ESI Canada, who runs the computer network which delivers the policy information to each pharmacy and Aetna Canada, the health insurance company used by the trust.

Consultant for the Student Benefits Trust Administrators, Brad Taleski, would not comment on the nature or the cause of the faulty cards.

According to Walden, the problem may stem with the university's group number. "It's a random computer program problem," he said. He added some students are being identified as non-members. "They're running a lot of test cases to find out what's going on. Because of the random nature of it, we're having a hell of a time solving it," he said.

Steve Allen, manager of marketing and services at Western, said calls are made daily to the campus trust administrators with hopes the problem is close to being solved and everyday the answer is still unclear.

"I think I can safely say that if claims are going through today, they'll be working tomorrow – there's no need to worry," he said.

Allen said he first thought the problem existed with only certain groups of students such as all upper-year students, however, this turned out not to be the case as a variety of individuals have reported having problems.

"The good news is that manual claims are being processed," Allen said, adding the cheques will be sent through mail to the students.

First-year social science student Nada Tassi said the billing issue, which affected her, was an unnecessary complication considering her investment in the student health plan.

"It was a big inconvenience," she said. "I wanted to get my money back right away but I wasn't able to."

To Contact The News Department: gazette.news@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998