Getting a refund: It’s not like the good old days

Today, we listen to Ruth Wingfield, a 98-year-old great-grandmother in Arlington, as she describes her bout with the Cigna Medicare Rx drug plan:


I’m really mad because they’ve got my money and won’t give it back. And I’m their customer.

This all started [in late February] because they suddenly started charging 40 cents a month, which I had to pay to them, not to the pharmacy here. Would you want to write a 40-cent check?

So I got a bill for three months for $1.20. I was trying to be nice. I was going to pay them for a year, $4.80.

I gathered up my three or four bills and wrote them out. They were all for around $100. When I got to this one, I was going to pay them for a year, $4.80; and so I wrote it for $480. I’m a crippled old woman. I was embarrassed to tell anybody. I pride myself on being careful, you know? My daughter could have made the same mistake.

I could have called the bank and stopped the check, but I thought they were honest. I called and got a supervisor, and he told me he would mail that check back. That was a month ago. I didn’t write his name down. Next time, I will.

This is what I got after that — a bill that shows I have a credit of $478. It says, “NO PREMIUM DUE! PLEASE DO NOT REMIT PAYMENT!”

I’m prepaid for a hundred years, and I may not live three days. Now does that make sense for your good customer?

See, they take advantage. They say, “That old woman is senile. She won’t remember.”

I called them two or three times, and they said, “It’s being processed.” But that’s my money, and I want it. Yeah, I got bills right here that I need to pay. My Social Security income is all the income I have. I’ve just got to be real careful. I’ve just got a limited amount that comes in. Wouldn’t you think a month would be long enough to process something?

I talked to my letter carrier and he told me that at the Star-Telegram, they got somebody down there that helps old ladies. Dogpatch or something. I found the directory and found the Star-Telegram number. I told the man on the phone that I want to talk to the people that help old ladies, the dogpatch guy.

Is that what you call our place?. Oh, Watchdog. See, you caught me in another mistake. Let me write that down. That wasn’t but too far off. This sure takes a knot out of my stomach.


Cigna response:

Now we hear from Lindsay Shearer of Cigna HealthCare:

The sum was wired to Mrs. Wingfield’s account. Everything has been resolved. Thank you for helping us get to her so we could take care of it quickly.

We will always look into a situation like this and remedy the process to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

As you know, we’re not able to speak about any individual’s specific situation because of both Cigna and federal privacy laws. What I can tell you is that refund requests are researched for verification and processed on a weekly basis. While we usually tell people they can expect a refund within 30 days, the refund checks typically arrive within 7-10 days. This is all within [federal] guidelines.

Member service representatives go through ongoing process and customer service training to understand the unique needs of seniors. While extremely rare, if the process breaks down for any reason, we take it very seriously and conduct a thorough review of the situation and then take the necessary steps, such as additional training, to make sure it does not happen again.


Not the way it used to be

Final words from Wingfield:


They just break my heart. It hurts to know the world has gone this way. And you know, I’m old-fashioned. I take it that everybody can be honest. But I guess it doesn’t work that way anymore.