46 Million Plus 3

The number of Americans without health insurance is 46 million—and three.

We do not have health insurance.*

My husband has a fairly serious medical condition called Marfan Syndrome. He’s had eye surgeries. He’s had heart surgery. He’s part mechanical, and he’s on blood thinners that have to be checked by a lab regularly.

We have a child. She loves the playground. There’s wood chips, sure, but I’m just sayin’—she’s two and a half. Things happen.

We need health insurance. We want health insurance. We have been trying to get health insurance—but we have not been able to get it.

This has been the biggest obstacle, frustration, and fear relating to our move and Aaron going back to school. We knew he should do it and honestly, the church couldn’t keep him on much longer—our health insurance costs were breaking them—but as soon as he left his job, we would be without insurance. We could not get COBRA because he was essentially a one-man group policy. And the “market” does not want you when you have a preexisting condition; they will turn you down.

I determined that we had only one choice (well, it really isn’t a choice when there’s just one, is it?) in Michigan, the “insurer of last resort,” as some states call it, which has to take everyone regardless of health. So weeks ago I called Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and confirmed that we would be lucky enough to pay them hundreds of dollars a month so that after we pay thousands of dollars out of pocket, they will help us out if anything really terrible happens. They said we could get coverage starting July 1 and that in place of Michigan driver’s licenses, since we couldn’t get those until we got to Michigan and we couldn’t go to Michigan until after Aaron’s job and insurance ended, a letter from the seminary confirming enrollment and lease would do.

Can you guess?

Three business days before our Oregon coverage ended, we got a letter saying our BCBS application was rejected due to the lack of Michigan driver’s licenses. Yeah, there’s a B.S. in BCBS—you said you would take the letter! And also, thanks for letting me know at the last possible moment before I am totally screwed and for keeping your underwriting people under a cone of silence ensconced in a fortress of solitude behind an impenetrable wall of unhelpful peons so I can’t even find out if they even got the letter they supposedly asked for.

Finally I was able to reach the helpful person I’d originally talked to, but it was a no go; underwriting would not cooperate. All we could do was get our Michigan driver’s licenses the first day possible, get them the numbers to restart our application, and hope they’d retroactivate our coverage back to the 15th (Aaron had to get one blood draw done without insurance anyway because he couldn’t wait any longer).  As far as I can tell, unless you have a job waiting, there is literally no way to move across state lines without a gap in insurance coverage.

This is not right. We are trying to do the right thing and stay insured. We are willing to pay, even though we can’t really afford it. The system wouldn’t let us, because it’s not really a system—it’s a hodgepodge, and it doesn’t work.

I have been hoping and praying and campaigning and harassing my representatives for health reform since I found out firsthand in 2006 that the reason this system doesn’t work is that it doesn’t work for usit’s not on our side. As soon as you need health care, you become the enemy of health insurance. Never confuse the two.

I have been following the legislative battles over health care reform closely and oh yes, my senators have heard from me (they actually do work for us, you know). I hope it will not be long until the tears of frustration I’ve shed over this issue can be replaced with tears of relief that a fair, affordable public plan is available to me, and my precious daughter, and my bionic husband whose health so greatly depends on it. If you can tell me what I could have done differently in my quest for insurance in 2006 when my husband’s vision hung by a few stretching tissues or this year when I did everything asked and still got nothing, you can tell me we don’t need a national public insurance option that’s open to all. If not, I hope you’ll either be pleased that we’re resorting to Medicaid or join me in pushing for major health care reform as soon as possible.

46,000,003 people are waiting.


* It’s possible we just got insurance, since I got a huge bill from BCBS today, but it didn’t come with anything helpful like a card or contract number or letter saying hey, we’re insuring you now. And until I see that, it’s just a bill. A bill too huge to pay. *Sigh*

8 thoughts on “46 Million Plus 3

  1. so why all the hype and fear of “losing private insurance” do you think the insurance companies are just running scared and politicizing the whole thing?? or do you think there is some validity to the fears being raised? I rather like Mike Huckabee but his opinion is not so optimistic on this bill….

  2. *Insurance* companies are cash cows and the thought of a big, government backed plan as competition is making them woozy. Companies like BCBS even tout themselves as “nonprofit”, which is a joke. They willingly steal our hard earned money and then refuse to give it back when we really need it.

    The whole system is corrupt in my personal opinion. Insurance companies are like the corrupt cops of the drug cartels, pretending to serve and protect when in many instances, they are aiding and abetting…skimming the cream off the top.
    I feel for you and your family, as well as all the other hardworking men, women and their children who must go without health care coverage due to extraordinary road blocks. Keep fighting…

  3. Nancy, I’ll email you (or anyone) more thoughts if you want, but I’d love to see a nice conversation here in comments, so…

    There is no bill on any table that takes any private insurance away from anybody. Yes, I absolutely think insurance companies are lobbying HARD with hype and fear. The two arguments are (1) public plan will be a horrible disaster no one will want and (2) public plan will be so much better and cheaper that everyone will want it. But those are completely contradictory! The actions of insurance etc. seem a giveaway that #2 is more likely, and why wouldn’t we want to make available something that’s better and cheaper?

  4. Wendy, your personal experience is excellent testimony in favor of the US providing health care to everyone, just like every other industrialized, capitalist country does in the world. (I add the “capitalist” because Communist China is a major industrialized country that, like the US, does not provide health care for all its citizens.) I am appalled that the US has, among most other health care statistics, one of the worst rates of infant death in the developed world and one of the lowest life expectancies. (Truly!) I will be so happy when everyone in the US can get health care, and we can have some of the BEST health statistics in the world!

  5. After sending your article to friends, Wendy, I received this comment back:

    Thanks for the information. Our healthcare system is in sad shape. One of the problems is that I don’t think many people who have decent health care realize how bad the situation is for the rest of the country. More and more people are falling through the large cracks or crevices in the system. I hope that Obama will do something. The rest of us could write our Senators, etc.

  6. Wendy, thanks for sharing your family’s story. I am with you that we definitely need some major kind of reform and I know that people in need often fall through the cracks of the system; but it is different to actually know people that it has happened to.

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