Be careful with some health insurer email offers

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Greg Loper said he received an email from his insurer that promoted an out-of-network provider. (Source: CBS 5) Greg Loper said he received an email from his insurer that promoted an out-of-network provider. (Source: CBS 5)
Loper says since Vision Care was not in-network, instead of a 10 percent copay, he had to foot the entire $213 bill. (Source: CBS 5) Loper says since Vision Care was not in-network, instead of a 10 percent copay, he had to foot the entire $213 bill. (Source: CBS 5)
This type of insurance company email is simply an offer for a potentially valuable health care service that is not covered under your health plan. (Source: CBS 5) This type of insurance company email is simply an offer for a potentially valuable health care service that is not covered under your health plan. (Source: CBS 5)
"They should always call the insurance company and make sure it's an in-network provider," Loper said. (Source: CBS 5) "They should always call the insurance company and make sure it's an in-network provider," Loper said. (Source: CBS 5)
GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A Glendale man says he took an email from his insurer to mean one thing when it really meant something else and he ended up using a provider that wasn't covered under his health plan.

It's cheaper to use in-network providers so you should always call your insurer to confirm that status before visiting any health care practice. Even if your insurer encourages you to visit a specific provider, don't assume they're in-network.

Greg Loper says it was time for his son's annual eye exam. He happened to get an email from his insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, touting a special "back to school" offer from a company called Vision Care. Loper made an immediate assumption.

"An email like that I don't even give it a second thought, to be honest, I figured it came from Blue Cross, they were the sender, so it had to be in-network," Loper said.

Loper says Vision Care provided his son great service. They required payment upfront and gave Loper a receipt he could submit for reimbursement to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

"I called them to find out what the reimbursement policy and procedure was and that's when they told me that Vision Care is out-of-network," Loper said.

There is a disclaimer at the bottom of the email but Loper says it's not clear. He says he continues to get similar Vision Care offers from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. He wonders why his insurer would send him emails touting an out-of-network provider.

"My assumption was that it was an in-network provider, otherwise, why would you send it to me," Loper said.

Loper says since Vision Care was not in-network, instead of a 10 percent copay, he had to foot the entire $213 bill. He warns others not to assume anything about an insurer email. Confirmation is still needed.

"They should always call the insurance company and make sure it's an in-network provider," Loper said.

Most basic eye exams are not covered by health plans; you need a separate vision plan for those. Also, the email disclaimer does say, "This is not insurance" and that Vision Care is an "independent company" but that sentence is in fine print and someone might miss it. Also, since this email is essentially a recommendation from an insurer, you can see how an insured might think the service is covered.

This type of insurance company email is simply an offer for a potentially valuable health care service that is not covered under your health plan. We want to make sure no consumer is confused.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona tells CBS 5 News they have "asked Vision Care to review its disclaimers and make any necessary adjustments so it is clearer that services and goods purchased through Vision Care are not covered by BCBSAZ medical insurance."

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