HR Strange But True!
October 01, 2004

In Rensselaer, New York, an audit of the city's health insurance plan revealed that taxpayers were paying health insurance premiums for seven dead people, some of whom had been deceased for as long as three years.

The Albany Times-Union reports that city officials reacted by gathering death certificates for the seven, with the expectation that submitting them to the insurer--Blue Shield of Northeastern New York--would result in the city being credited for any payments made in those names.

The audit occurred only after an incident in which many city employees were mistakenly dropped from the plan after the city missed a payment, according to the Times-Union.

Council President Michael Bridgeford said that while he has asked the city treasurer to be more vigilant, he couldn't guarantee that problems won't happen again.

"The safeguards are that we will have to review each and every month that the health insurance rosters are up to date," Bridgeford said. "There is no system. I don't know if any municipality has a system. We'll have to watch the death notices in the paper."

But the Times-Union reported that other local municipalities nearby do have systems in place. In Albany, for instance, officials cross-check their insured with a number of records, including the county registry of vital statistics and Social Security lists.

In the private sector, many businesses send out annual forms to people they insure, asking that they be filled out in order for coverage to continue, said Jen Jorgensen, of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

"There needs to be some sort of periodic review," Jorgensen told the newspaper. "It's all about updating records, really."

Source: The Times-Union

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