Sunday, March 30, 2014

Leave it to the Government, Part 2

Here's just a brief update on my Obamacare experience.  I know lots of people are trying to navigate their way through the new healthcare landscape, so maybe this information will help.

I enrolled in a plan, but I couldn't find any way to pay for it.  The site told me to expect someone to contact me "within a few days."  I got an email instructing me to call a certain number.  Bingo! That's what I was waiting for!  I called and the lady had a good amount of my information already.  She wanted more of my health details.  Although I'm normally very cautious about that sort of thing, I went into "dealing with the government" mode and just answered the questions.  It wasn't until we started to get to the end of the call that I realized she wasn't actually associated with my chosen health plan and couldn't do anything to help my current situation.  I don't really know who I was talking to or what her job was.  I think her title was something like "healthcare advisor."  I did a panic-stricken mental review of the info I had given her.  No SSN, no credit card number.  I am still keeping a close eye on my accounts and so on.  This health care debacle is an identity thief's dream.  There's so much confusion, so little information, and so many people involved, how can consumers be sure they're talking to the right people?

At any rate, figuring that I wouldn't be covered if I hadn't paid a premium, I went back to the drawing board.  I called my health insurance broker (she's helped our family find the best insurance options ever since Bryan struck out on his own with his business) and explained my situation.  She was able to get me set up with insurance that was pretty much what I'd had before.  It's "off the marketplace," meaning it's not a plan.  I pay about $120 a month and have a $3600 a year deductible.  This plan might not work for everyone- there were a couple of health conditions that might have been excluded- but it covered me, in spite of my MS.

Unlike what I saw on the Obamacare plans, after I've hit my deductible, my plan covers everything.  There's no separate deductible for medications, no 80/20 up to $15K or anything like that.  If you do sign up for a plan, PLEASE be sure that you have a trusted broker go over all the details with you.  There are so many bumps and hiccups in all of this that it's impossible, I think, for the average consumer to make a good decision without guidance.  Many doctors aren't covered.  Some medications aren't covered.  Think of it this way: Our health care is now as complicated as our taxes, except that if you make a mistake on your taxes, you could get audited.  If you make a mistake on your health care, you might find yourself in a life-threatening situation.

Here's what I'm dealing with now, though: I'm having a terrible time getting UNenrolled from the other plan.  When I first enrolled, I tried calling to pay.  Then I tried calling back to unenroll.  I was on hold for over an hour each time and ended up hanging up.  I've called once more with the same result.

This experience has made me even more concerned about what the recent changes are doing to America's healthcare system.  You see, I wasn't calling the government.  I was calling Blue Cross Blue Shield.  I had their insurance for ten years before Bryan died.  I always got through right away when I called before.  Now, they're just swamped.  My broker is reporting two and three hour hold times, despite the fact that she has "priority."

UPDATE: I did succeed in getting unenrolled from the marketplace plan.  Apparently, if you don't pay long enough, they'll drop you!  They were very nice about it.  Sounds like it's happening frequently.

So March 31st is the last day for open enrollment on (though it sounds like extensions are being granted).  Take your time, do some research, and find what works for you.  Call someone who knows what they're talking about.  And, above all, just don't get sick!