September 30, 2014 — A price-coding error that resulted in about 11,000 women being improperly charged copayments for birth control at CVS Health affected people in only one health insurance plan, according to a CVS spokesperson, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said that the improper charges affected people enrolled in a plan offered by CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which provides coverage in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. (Luthra, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 9/26).
Under federal guidance on the Affordable Care Act's (PL 111-148) contraceptive coverage rules, insurers must cover the full range of contraceptive methods without cost-sharing.
However, after a staff member was charged a $20 copay for generic birth control, Speier sent a letter to CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo stating, "Although my staff member's issue was eventually resolved a week and numerous phone calls and pharmacy visits later, I am concerned that most women who are likely not familiar with their rights under the ACA may go without this essential family planning service that is supposed to be guaranteed to them under law."
Following the inquiry, CVS said the issue stemmed from a price-coding error that would be fixed by Sept. 26. A CVS spokesperson said the pharmacy chain was already working to fix the error prior to receiving Speier's letter. CVS also said it will reimburse women who were improperly charged (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/25).
The affected customers should receive their refunds by the beginning of October, according to "Capsules."
Additional Improper Copayments
It is not known if other customers were affected by the glitch, but Speier's office has received reports of women in her district being charged copayments, according to "Capsules."
CVS has not verified the additional complaints. Speier's office is continuing to collect such reports ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 9/26).