I am my insurance company's worst nightmare: someone who needs health care. Insurance companies make money by having a bunch of people pay an arm and a leg for health insurance and then staying healthy and never using their policy. That's how they make a profit and have enough left over to pay their CEOs over $100 million in bonuses every year.
I have what is called a "preexisting condition," or a health problem, and this makes me completely uninsurable. As long as I maintain constant health insurance without any breaks in coverage, insurance companies will always have to cover me and cannot claim "preexisting condition" even if I change from Blue Cross/Blue Shield to Aetna or United or whoever. The minute my coverage lapses, I am screwed and will never get health insurance again. The companies will be able to shrug their shoulders and say "sorry, preexisting condition, not our fault so we shouldn't have to pay for it."
My mom's insurance (BCBS) covered me up until my 25th birthday and then I switched to COBRA coverage. COBRA is for people who used to have health insurance but are now no longer insured; usually people who loose their jobs, but I know a lot of young adults who get COBRA when they are forced off their parents' policies. It allows you to keep the same policy you had but your employer pays less towards your coverage, so you end up paying a heck of a lot more than you were. Right now in order to keep me insured we are paying more for just me under COBRA coverage than for the other four members of my family. And COBRA is a pain in the butt - they send payment forms days before the payment is due, if you are late with payments they cancel your coverage, it feels like one gigantic trick to get you to become uninsured. It probably is. I would guess that most people who bankrupt themselves getting COBRA are people who need an insurance policy.
On Monday a woman from the business office came to my hospital room and said their information showed that my policy had lapsed. I assumed it was some weirdness with changing between being on my mom's policy and being on COBRA, and I assured her that I had paid for coverage and had the reciept. She said ok, no big deal, if it hadn't been fixed in a week she would come see me again.
Imagine my surprise when I told my mom about this incidient and she said "yes, I've taken care of it, don't worry about it." This set off alarm bells. Taken care of WHAT?
Apparently BCBS tried to claim that we had been late with September's payment and therefore my coverage was forfeit. They sent a little letter to the house saying I was uninsured and everything. I know that I paid that bill before the end of September and I remember having thought "I had better make sure I put this receipt in a safe place because you never know what these SOBs will pull." This was a couple of weeks before I was admitted to the hospital. I was so right. They gave us some BS about recieving the payment on October 8 when the receipt shows I paid on September 21 AND the bank statement showed that the check had been cashed on September 25. The situation has been taken care of, following what I can only imagine was a very scary phone call for the poor schmuck at the insurance company. My mom can be very, errrm, persuasive, especially when it comes to her kids. What a bunch of douchebags!
There is no doubt in my mind that they saw the huge influx of hospital bills for me, checked into my record, saw that my claims were not going in a good direction, and decided to try to get rid of me. Luckily we were prepared and knew what to do, but what about someone who may not have known that what BCBS is doing is wrong, or someone who had paid in cash and then lost the reciept? They would have been totally screwed, and not through any fault of their own, through the tricks of the insurance company! These insurance companies are a menace to society. If we do not pass health insurance reform this year I will be seriously disappointed and PISSED OFF. At the very, very least they have to get rid of this "preexisting condition" ridiculousness and stop insurance companies from dropping sick people.
I know my family would do everything they could to pay for my care - sell the house, get huge loans, take on second and third jobs. But it would never be enough. My medical bills are already way over $1 million for my lifetime and we're staring another $1 million in the face for a second transplant, medications, follow up visits, etc. No one should have to resort to such extremes simply to live. Health care is a right. Note that our founding fathers did not include "profit margin" or "bonuses" when they wrote the Declaration of Independence, but they did include the right to LIFE. Modern medicine is a miracle and everyone should be able to profit from it.
Apologies to anyone I may have offended with my use of coarse language, but sometimes the only true descriptions come from bad words.