Woman claims Covered Calif. call led to harassment

Health Care Harassment

REDDING, Calif. - A Redding woman says she won't be recommending Covered California for health insurance to anyone after receiving 87 phone calls in a matter of hours.

Shante Luster said she was harassed by health insurance companies after she filled out an application on the Covered California Insurance Exchange website.

Luster manages Lim's Pharmacy in Redding. The pharmacy is losing their group health insurance policy, so Luster wanted to explore Covered California, touted as a user-friendly way to get insured.

She filled in her personal information, including her cell phone number, only to receive an exorbitant amount of phone calls starting ten minutes later.

"Within three hours I had 87 different phone calls from multiple sources, two to four minutes apart," Luster said.

Margaret Beck, a certified agent, said Covered California doesn't give out contact information.

"We don't get anything that refers people," Beck said. "They're not even really terribly agent friendly at Covered California to be candid."

There is an exception.

"The small group side of it, the shop program, they will occasionally give us leads, saying ‘Oh, this small business wants insurance,'" Beck said. "And I think they'll usually give the guy two or three names."

Luster, however, wasn't filing as a small business.

Beck said it doesn't cost anything to use a certified agent, so that could be a safer option for applicants.

Covered California Spokesman James Scullary said the exchange does not give out phone numbers or e-mail addresses. He suggested that perhaps Luster filled in her personal information on a similar website.

Scullary called back after trying to find Luster's name in the system, and said that Luster is not a registered user under Covered California.

Luster said she deals with health insurance all day, and she definitely got on the correct website for the first and last time.

"I will definitely be advising our employees here not to use the Covered California website," Luster said. "It's inundating and intimidating."

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