By this time next week, I will have had four different health insurance companies in two months. Four companies. Four rounds of paperwork. Four separate ID cards. Four different policies, copays, doctor networks and drug formularies.
I enjoyed great coverage through CareFirst through my last employer. But after I left, I lost that coverage — unless I wanted to pay ungodly COBRA costs. Which I didn’t — I mean, come on! I was unemployed! So I got spousal coverage through Eric’s plan.
Eric’s plan was UnitedHealth. I was not impressed. Barely any doctors took it. Eric’s employers were also not impressed. In fact, they were so unimpressed, they decided to change plans — to CareFirst. But not the CareFirst I had. Oh no. That would be too convenient. This is CareFirst HMO, which is different, apparently.
It took them an hour to figure out my insurance coverage this morning at my gastroenterologist’s office. A visit I waited three months for, by the way. They kept looking up CareFirst. It kept showing up as revoked. Which it was — the first CareFirst, that is. The mess was compounded by the fact that the new CareFirst — CareFirst HMO — had my birthdate wrong. So I wasn’t in their system at all.
I finally got into the exam room 90 minutes after my appointment was scheduled. Then someone forgot to tell the doctor I was in there, so I sat (and froze) for 40 minutes.
Apparently, I hadn’t had enough yet, so I went to the pharmacy. I desperately needed a refill of one of my medications. “That will be $112,” they said. “WHAT?!!” I said. Oh yeah. They didn’t have my new insurance information, either. And we haven’t received our insurance cards yet, so neither did I, dammit.
I left the prescription at the counter. No way was I paying cash when we have insurance, supposedly.
So I tried later. I first printed off a form from the CareFirst website that was supposed to work until we receive our insurance cards. I stood in line with that for 15 minutes. Said I needed to pick up a prescription. Showed them my paper certificate. “Oh, sorry.” They said. “You need to stand in the order line, not the pickup line.” I considered kicking over a stand full of vitamins.
After 15 minutes in the order line (dude in front of me really wanted zinc oxide ointment. Pharmacy has to order it. He didn’t seem to understand that) I FINALLY thought I was home free. FINALLY, I would get my prescription.
Nope. Sorry. The certificate doesn’t have the information needed to process a prescription. Something about a bin number. By this time, I’m nearly in tears. I ask if I could please please just pay for four tablets, in the hopes that the stupid insurance cards from CareFirst (the new one, not the old one) arrive by the time I need more. I’m not holding my breath.
And guess what? I got a new job! With new insurance! I get to do this all over again next week!
This, my friends, is not “the best health care system in the world.” This, my friends, is a clusterfuck. I’m damn lucky I didn’t have anything better to do today than spend 4 hours trying to see my doctor and get my prescription. Not everyone has that ability. And I’m even luckier that I ACTUALLY DO HAVE INSURANCE, supposedly. I got care in the end. I got part of my prescription, even though I had to pay full price.
Why does it have to be this complicated? Why on earth is our insurance tied to our jobs? Why don’t we have a single-payer system by now? Think of all the time and effort and paperwork that would save. Job creators would be free to create jobs. Workers would be free to strike off on their own without worrying about losing their coverage. And people like me wouldn’t have to have four separate health insurance carriers in the span of two months.
People freak out about “socialism” and “death panels.” But I sure don’t hear seniors bitching about Medicare. They love it. And it’s the closest thing we’ve got to single-payer insurance.
Republicans like to say no country has better health care. That might be true — if you’ve got unlimited funding. If you rely on health insurance — or four separate health insurance companies in two months — it’s not. It’s a crapshoot. If you’re lucky, your insurance card will show up in the mail, your birthdate will be right, and the doctors you see will take it. If not, you’re on your own.
We can do better, right? If not, I hear Vancouver is beautiful this time of year.