Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The American Healthcare System is Broken

You have skills, you have money and pay your bills on time, you have a history of being covered with health insurance in America. It couldn't happen to you that would ever NOT be covered for health insurance, correct?

WRONG.

It could, if you were in my situation. It has happened to me. I'm not covered for the month of June. I can't seem to make a payment for health insurance this month and can't find out how to, despite having spent over six hours on the phone since the beginning of the month.

How could this happen to a person who can afford to make the payments?

I have been covered through the Princeton University health insurance program since 1996 and through Paul's previous employer's insurance company up until now since 1979, a very long time, (decades, in fact).

When my divorce was finalized in March, I was able to make a payment for April and May, and the payments were debited from my bank account from United Healthcare at $679.85 each month. I have proof of this, which I would need (and is the least I deserve to have), and which I have in pdf. file form.

But I didn't get a medical card as proof of my payments, and luckily didn't need to have one, as I haven't been to any doctor in the last two months.

I applied for healthcare through the so-called Healthcare Exchange Marketplace (a.k.a. Obamacare) at Healthcare.gov. I applied more than once. I've made several phone calls. Most of the time, I've been hung up on. No one has ever returned my calls, although I did get a call from healthgapdirect.com (which may be a scam). There isn't any record of my payments, and no way that I can find to pay for another month.

The Trustees of Princeton Unversity finally sent me information on how to get healthcare through the COBRA program for divorced people (yes, COBRA is a horrible name, isn't it, unless you're one of the rare people who likes snakes). Kind of ironic, how after making dinners as an academic's wife for decades, I'm considered suitable for something that is another word for a snake. It's hideous. But the long letter from the Trustees was several months late (meaning that I had no choice but to try to join Obamacare), and I've been told by the company related to COBRA, called PayFlex, to pay double the premiums retroactively and then have the premia I deserve returned from United Healthcare (in the over two-thousand dollar range!). That sounds like pie-in-the-sky thinking. Who on earth would do that, pay double the premia retroactively? Yet, that's supposedly the solution to how to get covered for the next two years, and then I'll just get caught in this nightmare again.

I may get coverage for next month, July, through the Healthcare Exchange, but can't seem to get it for this month. A caseworker will decide whether or not I deserve coverage with insurance, and I know I won't qualify for Obamacare.

A friend said to apply through my insurance agent. But, that office when I called says to "apply to Obamacare"...

What a circle, and not a virtuous one at all. I've had trouble communicating on weak telephone lines to people around the world that I can barely hear and who can barely understand my English. It's making me sick. I have the advantage of speaking English, but what about those who don't speak it, or for whom it's a second language? I have enough to make payments, but what about someone for whom that is an issue and needs health coverage immediately? Good luck.


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