A computer glitch earlier this month was blamed for billing hundreds of employees of University Hospitals in Oklahoma City for incorrect insurance payments.
The mistake came in the aftermath of the Feb. 5 transfer of the two-hospital university system to Nashville-based Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. (Feb. 9, p. 20). The system includes Children's Hospital of Oklahoma and University Hospital, both in Oklahoma City.
"There was a computer glitch that caused employees to receive a billing statement in error," said Dana Webb, public information official with the Oklahoma Employees Benefits Council.
"We caught that, but unfortunately, we didn't catch it until after it went into the mail," Webb said March 3, the day the error occurred. She added that a corrected billing statement would be sent the following morning.
She said 791 billings "are in a suspect batch that could be in error."
The combining of two computer databases led to mismatching some employees with Social Security numbers, Webb said.
She said the amount of the error on insurance premium costs ranged from $10 to $400.
The computer problem is in addition to the surprise hundreds of hospital employees received when they were billed for insurance premium charges that were not deducted from their paychecks before the changeover to Columbia.
Webb said the employees billed for the premium charges carried dependents on their healthcare policies.
State Rep. Dan Webb (R-Oklahoma City) said he received several complaints from hospital workers who were not expecting to owe the state for insurance after Columbia took control.
Webb said the insurance billing problem comes on the heels of the hospital workers "having suffered a big tax bite" because of how the Internal Revenue Code treats severance packages.
Hospital workers have complained of having 42% or more deducted from their severance checks for federal tax purposes.
Webb said it has been a frustrating situation for everyone, including U.S. Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), who tried to intervene on the hospital workers' behalf but got nowhere with the IRS.