Due to recent circumstances I’m not going to get into here, as of the 1st of 2013 I needed to find a new health care company because my benefits ended on 12/31. As a full-time freelancer I knew I’d have to buy an individual plan so I did my research and came across Regence Blue Shield, which was even recommended to me by two different friends. It seemed to me a good fit. Four preventative care visits are covered during the calendar year and the price was right, coming in at under $300 per month.
Despite being diagnosed with melanoma last year, thanks to Obamacare I wasn’t too worried about being denied coverage and about ten days after I “applied” I was granted access to a whole network of physicians who would take care of my needs. My card arrived in the mail a week later and I tucked it into my wallet feeling every bit the responsible 33-year-old I am.
Then this week I received another note from Regence. It was both pedantic and confusing so I called to find out what was going on, only somewhat alarmed at this point about the phrase “pre-existing condition” being used no less than five times.
The woman I spoke with was chipper and eager to help. I asked her to explain what the letter meant and she told me that because of last year’s melanoma diagnosis they would not cover any related expenses until September 30, 2013—a full ten months from now. Before I could even get a question in she warned that such out-of-pocket dermatology or other costs could not be applied to my $5,000 deductible.
To put it mildly, I was irritated. As anyone who has ever dealt with an ongoing disease or illness can tell you, they’re costly—and I’m one of the lucky ones. My stage 1 freckle didn’t require anything more than a number of dermatologist appointments, a visit to a plastic surgeon for its removal, and nine stitches. While not the six digit bills I’ve heard of others enduring it still wasn’t cheap and in case you’re wondering I actually went back and added up my bills. Had I not had insurance, I would have paid out five grand. (I’m going to ironically point out here that this is the same number as my deductible).
And I’m not done. I have a dermatologist appointment every few months for at least the next year during which, if I’m lucky, I have only a few moles scraped and then sent to a lab to be tested and processed. If I’m lucky. Once, my doctor took off eleven. While doctor’s bills are undoubtedly pricey, labs cost a hefty fee too.
So the real question is why am I paying $225 a month for health care to a company that has no interest in caring for me? And furthermore who are these politicians, businessmen and women, and lobbyists that think this is okay?
Because I’ll tell you right now, it’s not.
I like nice, tidy endings—maybe that’s the writer in me. Who knows? But I know that there is no sweet conclusion to this story—just paperwork, confusion, and a lot of anger.