This is not going to instill a lot of confidence in potential Washington state insurance buyers. The state exchange website is not only down again, but it is apparently debiting the bank accounts of customers on the wrong date and even taking cash for premiums more than once.

KING TV reports:

Shannon Bruner of Indianola logged on to her checking account Monday morning, and found she was almost 800 dollars in the negative.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I got screwed,’” she said.

The Bruners enrolled for insurance on the Washington Healthplanfinder website, last October. They say they selected the bill pay date to be December 24th. Instead the Washington Healthplanfinder drafted the 835 dollar premium Monday.

Josh Bruner started his own business this year as an engineering recruiter. They said it’s forced them to pay a lot of attention to their bills and their bank accounts.

“Big knot in my gut because we’re trying to keep it together,” said Shannon Bruner. “It’s important to me that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

They’re not alone.

One viewer emailed KING 5 saying, “They drafted my account this morning for a second time.”

Another woman on Facebook with a similar problem commented, “We are all in the same boat.”

“We’ve got to figure out how to get money to pay the bills for the next week or two until we have another check come through,” said Josh Bruner. “It’s just crazy.”

Washington Healthplanfinder emailed the Bruners a few days ago telling them to log in to view their invoice, something they couldn’t do because the website has been down. The Bruners haven’t been able to get through on the helpline either. They finally contacted Healthplanfinder administrators by posting a message on their Facebook page.

Washington Healthplanfinder tells KING 5 their staff is looking into the problem.

Until it’s resolved, the couple is putting their best face forward.

“We haven’t bought anyone’s Christmas gifts yet,” said Shannon Bruner. “We’re just kind of waiting.”

“We wrote a check to our nanny last week, it isn’t going to work,” said Josh Bruner. “So she can’t get paid.”

Last month, the same exchange had problems identifying health care providers for specific plans:

The Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange has a feature on its website that allows consumers to see if particular doctors and hospitals are in a plan’s network of health-care providers.

The provider directory is to help consumers compare plans on more than just price. The idea is that consumers who want to keep their doctor should be able to find out which plans allow them to do so.

But the directory has been plagued with errors since the website was launched six weeks ago.

The most serious problems have included listing some doctors and hospitals as outside a plan’s network when they are actually in it. This has caused confusion for some consumers trying to choose a plan that includes their doctor or preferred hospital.

Hospitals and physician groups have been busy trying to catch the mistakes and tell the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates Healthplanfinder, to correct the errors. For its part, the exchange acknowledges there are errors and advises consumers to double-check the information on its website with the insurers.

How mad would you be if you chose a plan based on your favored providers being in the network, only to discover that they were mistakenly left off the plan you actually wanted?

I suppose it could be worse. The site could take your money even if you hadn’t signed up for a plan. Taking your money twice comes close to being the worst that exchange could inflict upon you, especially if you don’t look at your online bank account every day.

Hang in there, Huskies. It can only get better, right?


UPDATE: Correction

The Washington HealthPlanFinder investigated the claim of the Bruners and discovered that the debit to their bank account occurred on the date the family chose. There was no error:

Washington Healthplanfinder officials say they’ve finished their investigation after some enrollees said the website mistakenly debited their accounts.

Shannon and Josh Bruner claimed the Washington Healthplanfinder website debited their premium two weeks too early.

The Healthplanfinder staff investigated their case and could find no problems with the payment system, and that their records show the Bruners scheduled the earlier date as their payment date.

A spokesperson says enrollees received several email notifications to confirm the payment date for their premiums, but admits that because the site has been down for much of last week, that it would have been difficult for any enrollee to login to read those messages.

The finance department is willing to work with the couple to provide a refund if necessary.

We received an email from Bethany Frey of the exchange requesting a correction. We have made that correction for the part of the story that deals with the Bruners.

However, the exchange has not explained how other enrollees were debited twice for their premium.