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
"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."