A brief history of my health insurance, or, lots of ranting on this Tuesday afternoon

I had no health insurance for quite some time. Probably from 22 until 26 or so? I was too old for my parents’ plan and I didn’t have a job. And then I had a bunch of part-time/contract jobs which didn’t have insurance.

Then I got a job and it had health insurance! That lasted from about 2009 to 2012. Then the business closed, and the company that bought us out offered COBRA, even though legally they didn’t have to. That was nice, except I was paying around $350 a month for health insurance and I was (just barely) self-employed. I grew my business while building up a lot of credit card debt. I tried to apply for an individual plan during this time, but apparently having (very rare) migraines meant I had a pre-existing condition and they wouldn’t cover me. I still can’t understand why I couldn’t get coverage for everything except the migraines, the medicine is expensive but still would have been cheaper to pay for that out-of-pocket and have a cheaper than $350/month plan.

Then the Affordable Care Act came along and I got health insurance at a much nicer rate of $205/month. Then another year later the rates went up to $218/month. My business is now a bit bigger and I can afford this somewhat, but between this and the enormous credit card bills every month I can’t really afford anything else, like eating or rent (luckily I have help with that so I’m not cold or hungry, but it’s pretty miserable).

2016 plans come out and my health insurance company has merged with another, and the rates for my mediocre plan are going up to $278/month. I decide to try applying for Medicaid now that my state has expanded coverage. The paperwork is horrid. The online site doesn’t work. I give up, several times, only to remember I can’t afford to give up.

I find out that I can use the online site only in IE. Ok, fine. I apply. They say I need to send in my tax returns, but I can upload them online. No, I can’t, the plugin doesn’t work. I mail them from the post office to my local county assistance office. The two buildings are literally next door to each other.

Two weeks later I get a letter saying I can’t get Medicaid if I don’t send in these forms. I did send them in, two weeks ago. They only have all my personal information including social security number on them, no big deal that they’re just lost somewhere. Great.

After lots of arguing I find that I can upload the forms online only in Firefox. Ok, done.

Two days later I get a letter saying I’m approved (I guess making only $4,000 a year is great for Medicaid approval times.) I can go to a website and enroll in a health plan. It works in all browsers, I do a happy dance.

Oh, “your plan won’t start until January 15th,” because they lost my paperwork and everything was set back 2 weeks. This means I need to renew a standard full price plan just for those 2 weeks of coverage.

Meanwhile, in full-price insurance land, Blue Cross, which as you’ll remember had merged and was now offering different plans, sent me a letter saying that they couldn’t auto-renew me and I would need to sign up for a new plan on healthcare.gov. Great, I can’t afford $278 even for a month so I wanted a cheaper plan anyway. I sign up for a barebones $205 plan with the intent of canceling it by February once Medicaid kicks in.

The next day I get a bill from Blue Cross for $278 saying they auto-enrolled me in the original plan after all. “Pay us now.”

Knowing I just signed up for a different plan I assume I will get an updated bill for $205.

A week later I get a letter in the mail saying that my application has been canceled due to nonpayment. Still wondering if I should care or just plan to not have health insurance for 2 weeks. Or maybe they’ll send me a new bill after all. And either way I still have state help so if I rack up huge medical bills in those 15 days I’ll be ok, but I like to cover my bases, you know?

Meanwhile, back to free health insurance land, since receiving the initial notice I have received a piece of mail from a different local/state agency every single damn day telling me something that I don’t really care about. I have an access card, and a community health care card, and maybe someday I’ll receive an actual health care plan card. I’m expected to carry all of these with me at all times. I guess since all my credit cards are maxed out I have the room in my wallet. I also received several informational pamphlets, and a form saying I should be receiving a health care plan from my employer, and can’t I use that one instead? Self-employment, what?

I really just want this to be done. I want to have a bit of time when I don’t have to ask for help paying my bills so maybe I can work on the rest of my life. I want some energy to work on my business so I can maybe start making a decent income. I’m really so frustrated that it’s 2015 and this is a problem I need to deal with, healthy people are better for society but it’s so hard to manage that in this country.

Well that was cathartic. Now back to waiting.