Tuesday, November 10, 2015

It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This: Thank You ObamaCare - for Nothing

This has been one of the most stressful days I've endured in a long, long time.  Today was the second day this week that I spent three hours on the telephone with a trained monkey at a large insurance brokerage house who assured me that she could quickly and accurately set up 2016 medical insurance coverage for my wife (I am of medicare age, but my wife is not).

Despite her best efforts (much like watching a small child or large animal access a keyboard), she managed to sign me up not for a policy I needed, but for one that none of my wife's doctors will accept.  Then she threw her little paws...make that hands...into the air and said she could not undo what she had just "accomplished."  But, ever helpful as she is, she gave me a switchboard phone number to Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Texas.  Well, you can imagine how that went.  

No insurance company wants to hear from a person trying to cancel a policy with a $723 per month premium.  Blue Cross, I'm sure is no different from the rest, but to the company's credit, I was able to cancel the policy after only being transferred four times (and having to repeat my story four separate times).  So only 45 minutes from the time I first heard Blue Cross's automated menu, the job was done.

Now I am back to square one on my insurance search.  But at least this time, I've identified exactly the policy I want to buy and all I have to do is call the asylum again to see if they can figure out how to sign me up correctly.  Right?  Well, I made that call, told my story, and found out that no one in the monkey cage can talk to me until November 13.  I do have an appointment now and was told to call at precisely 11:15 to complete the new application.  

Fool that I am, I asked if they could tell me the name of the specific representative I would be working with.  Oh, no, that's not the way it works...if the board is already filled by the time I call (which they admit is almost guaranteed to be the case), I'll just have to wait the usual 45 minutes on hold before a live monkey finally says, "hello, how can I screw things up for you today?"  I. Just. Can't. Wait.  

(I don't mean this to be political or to offend anyone.  But my newly acquired firsthand experience leads me to the opinion I've just expressed in photo and words.  My wife's premium will be about 214% higher than it is in 2015 and I (generously) estimate that we will be paying that obscene amount of money for about 70% of the benefits she now enjoys.)


  1. You and your wife are in the same position as my husband and I. He's on Medicare, but I'm not quite Medicare age. My Aetna policy, a PPO for individuals, is being discontinued at the end of the year. They suggested a different, 'new and exciting' policy that they're sure I'll like. Yes, it's a more than 50% increase (after reading your story, maybe I should be grateful) in my premium, from $372 to $566 a month, and now limits me to only in-network providers in southeastern PA. Yes, I'm paying more and getting less. I'm SO happy and excited about that.

    Plus, my husband went to the ER a few weeks ago after experiencing chest pain and left arm pain. Isn't that what you're supposed to do? An immediate EKG showed no heart attack, but we waited for 7 hours in the ER to see a doctor. They kept him under observation overnight and now it appears that the insurance company thinks that was unnecessary. I actually have to agree, in retrospect. But the hospital isn't being penalized, we're supposed to pay the $4,000.00 difference. At least that's the way it appears at the moment. Enough to give us both heart attacks.

    Why can't this country get anything right? And why do we hardworking taxpayers always have to pay, literally, the penalty?!

    1. Joan, I hate to hear of your experience because so many people that I know are having similar experiences this year. I hope you guys can work things out with the insurance company. I do know that there is a process by which you can resubmit the original claim and have them work it all over again. Maybe that would gain you something...at the very least it postpones any due date associated with the medical bill.

      I woke up this morning hoping for a better day, only to find out that Blue Cross had resubmitted my supposed application again and that I was officially signed up for the ObamaCare policy that we can't use. So it was back to the phones. This time around the Blue Cross rep was borderline rude and I got nowhere with her. She transferred me back to the ObamaCare folks and I was pleasantly surprised to get a rep there who knew how to properly work the computers. After a few minutes with him, the bulk of the damage has been undone again.

      My concern now is that my bank might just honor one or more electronic transfers from my account to Blue Cross. I need to visit with those guys tomorrow to nip that in the bud even if it means closing the account and opening a new one. (Today being Veterans Day, I could not do that.)

      Again, good luck. I really hope you can work this mess out.

    2. My husband called his insurance company yesterday and was assured that Medicare had paid a small part of the ER bill and that his insurance company had paid the balance. Their statements are cryptic, we think, but it seems that we don't owe the hospital anything. So, on to finding a better policy for me. Good luck with your insurance fun!

    3. That's good to hear, Joan. I'm happy for you guys. And I'm dreading my 11:15 phone call tomorrow that will throw me back into the fight with these guys. Just hoping nothing happens today and that I get a stress-free Thursday.