Aetna mistakenly mailed letters to 8,000 of its members in California telling them their doctors are no longer covered in the Aetna network and they, therefore, should find new providers, reported the Sacramento Bee.
The letters, which were dated March 21, also warned members that their benefits could be reduced or denied if they continued to see the out-of-network doctors after the termination date of March 1.
Meanwhile, many of the 8,000 Aetna members who received the letter have been rushing to confirm whether their doctor is still covered under their health plan, according to UPI.
"The letters were sent in error," Aetna Director of Communication Anjie Coplin said. "We have rectified the problem and are in the process of mailing out retraction letters." The insurer is sending letters to both the affected members and providers.
Aetna also clarified that the letters weren't related to the fact that it recently cut 552 doctors from its network nationwide. "In no way were the mistaken California letters related to that issue," Aetna spokeswoman Susan Millerick told the Hartford Courant. "The network is always evolving, and this was a basic manual error." She added that the network changes didn't include any cuts to California providers.
Instead, the error was caused by Aetna's provider system, which incorrectly terminated some providers. "The terminations in the system triggered auto-generated letters to be mailed out, notifying members that their provider was no longer participating in Aetna's network," Millerick said, adding that "we regret any inconvenience that this has caused."