Call Collett: Enrollment error leaves teachers without health insurance

Call Collett

A News 2 investigation discovered that an error made by the Berkeley County School District contractor hired to enroll staff during the enrollment period could mean employees aren’t really covered. You wouldn’t know unless you tried to visit the doctor or fill a prescription.  

On her last trip to the pharmacy, Renni Wooden, a Berkeley County School District teacher,  told News 2’s Rebecca Collett that a medication she previously paid $12 rang up for $400.

“When I couldn’t get the medication because of the price, I thought something is wrong,” Wooden explained.

Despite receiving a confirmation of enrollment into state health benefits through the Berkeley County School District, the pharmacist told Renni she wasn’t actually covered. It struck  Renni as odd since she was paying the monthly premiums out of her paycheck.

The SC Public Employee Benefit Authority, PEBA, confirmed to News 2 that the company Berkeley County hired to enroll employees made some sort of mistake, and Renni’s benefits had been denied.

 “There are a number of reasons why a transaction may be rejected including, but not limited to an error on the enrollment, missing documentation, and employer or TPE clerical error, ”  A statement from a PEBA spokesperson read.

After News 2 alerted PEBA of Renni’s issue, the agency allowed her to officially enroll in health benefits Monday. Initially PEBA told her she couldn’t enroll because it wasn’t an open enrollment period.

Through further investigation, News 2 uncovered additional issues.  News 2 obtained a letter to PEBA from First Financial Group of America (FFGA), the company hired to handle enrollment for the Berkeley County School District.  In the letter, a Client Services Specialist for FFGA wrote that, “Due to our lack of initial education on the SC PEBA system, mistakes were made by First Financial Representatives.”

“We are very concerned as some employees do not currently have the benefits they elected,” the letter continued.  

Now officially enrolled, Renni wants to know if she’ll be reimbursed for her out of pocket costs.

A spokesperson told News 2 Thursday it’s not clear how many people are impacted by the error.  PEBA says it’s working with the Berkeley County School District to resolve the issue.

The Berkeley County School District hasn’t responded to questions. 

No other school districts in the state used First Financial Group of America for enrollment services, according to PEBA.

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