Monday, January 11, 2016
I'm aware that people come to Hope n' Change for a pithy analysis of the news rather than to hear my personal woes, so let me handle the headlines first: "smoking gun" emails from Hillary have been revealed that show she committed felonies. She will get away with them. An angry Muslim shot a policeman multiple times in the name of Allah because police enforce non-Shariah laws. Authorities assure us this had nothing to do with Islam. And finally, tomorrow will be Barack Hussein Obama's final "State of the Union" speech, and he will tell not an iota of truth.
Aaaaaaand that's the news. And now to turn to the lighter side...
And when I say "lighter" it's because I wish I was currently holding one under a bong filled with weapons-grade hashish to dull my current Obamacare-inflicted woes.
On Saturday, I received a phone call from daughter Jarlsberg (in her 20's), who was upset because she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her epilepsy medications (important, right?) and had her spanking new insurance card rejected at the cash register because the policy had been "terminated." Rather than immediately go into seizures, she paid cash for the prescriptions at the uninsured price - over $300 which she doesn't have to spare.
So I tried to help clear up the obvious mistake, first by logging on to the website of her insurer: Blue Cross Blue Shield. No luck - nothing but rejections and system errors. So I called them and spoke to a "web support" specialist who assured me that the problem wasn't on my end. "It's always like that. We keep telling them to fix it, but..."
I pointed out that I had the same problems months ago. "Oh yes, this has been going on forever." Great. So I explained my daughter's problem...and was told that she was no longer in the system. I pressed harder, giving additional information like her group number and member ID.
"Oh, here she is," said the woman at last. "Her policy was terminated by the Healthcare Marketplace."
"We don't know. The Marketplace doesn't tell us."
"But her plan was approved! She got her card! She has a receipt for her premium payment!"
"There's nothing we can do. You'll have to contact the Marketplace."
So I went to Healthcare.gov and looked up her record. Clicking on the button to see "insured status" did nothing except to show that her application - from months ago - was completed and had been ruled on. To see that ruling, one needs to download an "eligibilty" PDF, which I did.
And as always, it showed blank forms with lines and logos and no information. But I've played this game with them before: choosing "select all," I copied all of those blank spaces and pasted them to a plain text document. Presto! The words appeared, telling my daughter that everything looked great and she qualified for a subsidy. What could possibly go wrong?
So I called Healthcare.gov to straighten things out. After sifting through an interminable voice menu to direct my call, a recording said "to assure great customer service, we'd like you to take a satisfaction survey upon completion of your call. If you are willing to take this survey, please say yes."
"Yes," says I.
"Thank you for taking our survey!" said a new voice. "On a scale of 1-to-5, how satisfied were you with the answers you just received from your service representative?"
That's right - they skipped helping me and went straight to the satisfaction survey. Our tax dollars at work.
So I called again and this time said I wouldn't take the survey. After which I got a human who said that she couldn't help me because of privacy requirements which allow them to keep their complete and all-encompassing ineptitude secret. (Okay, I added that last bit).
So my daughter had to call them to authorize me to speak on her behalf, which she did. And then she called to tell me how it went...
"I don't know what just happened," she said anxiously. "They just said they'd reinstate a plan and that I'd have to pay new premiums for it to go in effect." This despite the fact that she'd paid already.
"And I'm not sure which plan they renewed," my daughter added. "What if it was my old plan instead of my new plan? Or what if it was only my dental plan?"
"You got a dental plan?"
"I didn't sign up for one. They just tell me I have it."
So I called Blue Cross to see if the reauthorization from Das Marketplace had gone through yet, and I was told that it it wouldn't be in their system until Tuesday at the very earliest. So the same day that a certain annoying sphincter-in-chief will be farting out his State of the Union speech will be the very earliest that I can perhaps find out if my daughter's situation has been fixed, is still the same, or has been made worse.
This is more than a petty annoyance. The "new" doctor on my daughter's mysteriously terminated plan isn't taking patients (despite what Healthcare.gov claimed) and so my daughter doesn't have anyone to write her vital prescriptions. Nor can she find an actual in-plan doctor until she's restored to Blue Cross's good graces and see their provider list.
She's supposed to see a neurologist for her epilepsy on Thursday but no longer knows if she has insurance or if he'll even see her. And sadly, stress increases the likelihood of her having a seizure and all that goes along with it (possible ambulance and medical costs, loss of the ability to drive, and more).
Bottom line: even if you think you're insured, if you went through the Marketplace (Healthcare.gov) the government can and will shut off your insurance like turning out a light switch. No warning, no explanation, no reason, and quite possibly no recourse.
And don't forget, even with your insurance card in your hot little hand, you may not know your insurance has been terminated until you most need it. My daughter wasn't warned or notified - odds are that you won't be either. Which will be something interesting for you to reflect on following an automobile accident, when you're bleeding out in an ambulance being shuttled from one hospital to another looking for one who will take a government-labeled indigent (as opposed to immigrants and illegals, who can get in anywhere).
Never before has the government had such a convenient, all-encompassing tool to screw up individual lives by whim, ineptitude, or malicious intent. The cost in lost time, productivity (look who couldn't write Hope n' Change today?), and potential revenues is incalculable. But even that pales in comparison to the anguish, suffering and death which Obamacare is already causing and will continue to cause long after his actual administration is just a painful memory.