RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s largest health insurance company is laying off 165 employees.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported (http://bit.ly/2pVsRHD ) Blue Cross and Blue Shield is eliminating jobs in Durham, Fayetteville and Winston-Salem.

The Durham insurance company had increased customer-service staff last fall after being fined $3.6 million by the state for widespread problems during open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act. The state department of insurance imposed the fine after thousands of customers complained of billing and enrollment mistakes and hours of waiting on hold for a customer service representative.

Blue Cross spokeswoman Ryan Vulcan said the company wanted to beef up staff for this year’s open enrollment period.

She says the company is returning to normal staffing for current customers.

Vulcan said the employees are eligible for severance pay.

Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com

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