Wellcare Health Plans: Looking for a Silver Lining in a Disastrous Year

Dec.30.08 | About: WellCare Health (WCG)

WellCare Health Plans (NYSE:WCG) doesn’t have a lot to celebrate this year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still try to see the bright side. Just two weeks ago, the mid-sized health-insurance company put out a glowing press release patting itself on the back for “providing an outstanding customer service experience.” WellCare crowed that it met “rigorous standards” for certification by J.D. Power and Associates, the outfit best known for its automobile-quality ratings.

WellCare celebrates the quality of... its call centerWhich all sounds great, at least until you realize this “certification” only reflects on the supposed quality of WellCare’s call center — the vast assemblage of operators who field more than 10 million calls from WellCare members every year. Apparently WellCare’s representatives rated within the top 20 percent of customer-service scores based on “courtesy, knowledge, concern for the customer,” and similar factors. Oddly enough, the insurer’s benefit packages, payment of claims, selection of doctors and concern for the health of its members didn’t come into play in this particular survey.

WellCare, of course, has every reason to look for silver linings wherever it can. (In October, for instance,

WellCare proudly announced it had received the “Senior Choice Gold Award”

for the design and “value” of its Medicare Advantage plans — along with 31 other health plans, that is.) The company, of course, was

famously raided by the FBI in October 2007

regarding an alleged Medicaid reimbursement problem.