The biggest source of stress I’ve had since leaving Progressive is securing health insurance. It isn’t easy for someone like me, someone with a history of health issues.
For me, COBRA afforded 18 months of coverage. For the first 52 weeks, I paid $66 per month, which was the employee share. For the last 26 weeks, I paid approximately $460/month, which was the employee plus company shares. I didn’t know how good I had it.
I spent nearly a year trying to find coverage. The applications required five years of medical history and disclosure of all medications. I take several medications for the heart attack I survived in 1999. Every company I applied to rejected me because of that heart attack, even though it was further in the past than the stated underwriting period. The medication list was a back door into older, preexisting conditions. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce my medical history given the list of prescriptions I take regularly.
I tried applying for open enrollment programs, which are similar to assigned risk pools for auto insurance. Each company writing health insurance in a state must take its fair share of high risk insureds. This didn’t work either. To gain acceptance to an open enrollment program (this was all pre-Obamacare), the applicant must provide a Certificate of Continuous Insurance from his or her current insurer. My current insurer was unwilling or unable to supply me with said letter until my insurance had expired, in my case on August 12, 2011.
Once I had that letter in hand, I could apply to open enrollment companies accepting August applicants and hope that they hadn’t met their quota prior to considering my application or apply to companies accepting September applicants. That route, however, was highly stressful. I had only 63 days after August 12 to procure health coverage. If I failed to do so, I would become a “previously uninsured” risk which the carriers could reject with impunity. If I applied to a September company and was rejected, the elapsed time could easily put me past the 63 day mark.
I dodged all this by enlisting the aid of an insurance broker who procured for me a HIPAA policy from Anthem. To this day, I’m not sure what a HIPAA policy is – I’m led to believe it’s the same coverage as an open enrollment policy except that you can apply without that oh so hard to acquire Certificate of Continuous Insurance.
Lesson #1: Get laid off on the first day of the month, not the 12th. You have more available days in your 63 day window. This lesson may have been obsoleted by Obamacare.
Today’s stress/ire is directed at Anthem, my current insured. I received notification in July that payment in full (my payment method of choice the past two years) was NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE. Instead, I had to fill out a form authorizing monthly withdrawals from my bank account to pay monthly premium bills. I was somewhat astonished that Anthem would choose to no longer accept payment in full at the start of the policy term.
Nevertheless, I filled out the paperwork. Anthem notified me by mail that “Congratulations, your automatic payments are set up!!” All grins and chuckles.
Today, I’m at my favorite hangout paying bills. Included in my stack of envelopes is one from Anthem. I open it and see “If Anthem does not receive your premium payment, any claims for services provided after 09/12/2012 will not be processed and your policy will automatically cancel effective 09/12/2012.”
I immediately call Anthem. They tell me that I’m set up for automatic payment beginning with my September 13 invoice. For the August 13 invoice, I must make payment by September 12. Today is September 10. If I hadn’t opened my mail and called, my policy would have been cancelled.
I asked to speak to a supervisor so that I could register my complaint. A supervisor came on the line. I asked her when my automatic payment had been set up. She said on July 30, well in advance of the invoice issued on August 13 and well before the payment due date of September 12.
I asked why the automatic payment did not work. She said that invoices scheduled for August 13 were set up on July 25. Since my automatic payments had not been set up until July 30, they did not apply to that invoice cycle. I authorized a payment over the phone, barely avoided cancellation for nonpayment.
How can this possibly make sense?
Right now, I’m taking deep breaths and trying to quiet my rage, but I’m livid and that ain’t good. Rage and stress are not heart healthy states of mind. I sure don’t want another episode that lands me in the cardiac unit. Who knows if my insurance would pay for it?
Till the next post, chris