The Buzz: California health exchange acknowledges ‘unacceptable’ service

January 24, 2014 

Covered California critical of its customer service

In a moment of public soul-searching, Covered California officials on Thursday described the health exchange’s level of service in its first three months as “completely unacceptable” and said they would apply the lessons to the next three months of enrollment.

“We know that thousands didn’t have a good experience,” Yolanda Richardson, deputy chief operations officer, told the exchange’s board of directors. “We’re not satisfied with that. And we know we have a lot of work to do.”

California continues to lead the nation with about 625,000 people enrolled in coverage. But long wait times and sluggish performance periodically plagued the exchange’s customer service center and online enrollment portal.

“In many instances we did not meet our standard going back to our guiding principle of providing a first-class customer service experience,” Richardson said, adding that the goal was to answer 80 percent of the calls in 30 seconds. Wait times routinely exceeded one hour and in some cases were so long that customers were automatically disconnected, officials said.

The exchange now wants to add 350 customer-service employees and a dedicated line for insurance agents.

– Christopher Cadelago

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