On several occasions in the past year, I've mentioned that I finally have health insurance coverage due exclusively to the efforts of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Confession: my insured status turned out to not be entirely true, unfortunately. Make no mistake, this isn't my own personal Brian Williams fib. I legitimately thought I was insured, when in fact I really wasn't at all.
Here's the story.
In March of last year, as the first Obamacare open enrollment period was drawing to a close, and after the exchange in this state, the Hawaii Health Connector, finally got its online shit together (see my previous article about the Health Connector's botched roll-out here), I signed up for a comprehensive "Silver I" plan offered on the exchange by Kaiser Permanente, one of only two insurers to offer marketplace plans here. My monthly premium would be $197 per month, and I didn't qualify for any subsidies; $1000 deductible; $6450 annual out-of-pocket cap; no annual limit on coverage; $30 primary care visits; $15 generic prescriptions; $250 emergency room visits after the deductible; free preventative care; free eye care including glasses (which I desperately need). From what I've read, it's comparatively a very good plan for the price.
After signing up online, I called the Health Connector just to confirm that they had received my information and to ask what the next steps would be. They of course confirmed my policy and told me I'd be receiving a "welcome package" with payment information from Kaiser Permanente within three weeks. Great! For the first time since 2005, I could rest assured in the knowledge that I wouldn't go broke if I were to be injured or seriously ill. Happy dances all around. (It's a long story, but I was uninsured for so many years due to a preexisting cycling injury -- a condition that no longer disqualifies me from buying an affordable policy.)
A month passed and I received nothing in the mail from Kaiser. Hmm. Well, I thought, it could be a traffic jam at the fledgling Health Connector. This is, after all, a new bureaucracy and an all new way of signing up for health insurance, plus there's the phenomenon of "Hawaii time" -- the motto at the end of the day is, basically, "we'll figure it out tomorrow." Hawaii time isn't about laziness or lethargy, it's simply a lack of urgency here. Great when you're on vacation, not so great when waiting for a health insurance policy.
Another call to the Health Connector. I'm told my policy was sent to Kaiser and I should be patient. Fine. Hawaii time.
June rolled around and... CONTINUE READING