I’ve been applying for new health insurance. I KNOW. But after doing just ridiculous amounts of research (and getting awesome tips from all of you), I discovered something important. California is requiring private insurance companies to offer maternity insurance by July, but none of them have to advertise that they will offer it until then. Many of my applications are hedging my bets. And, if any of them turn me down, I will qualify for the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. So for once, I am feeling confident that I will get maternity coverage before I turn 87.
I don’t know how many of you have applied for private insurance; this is my fourth go-round. Crazy. Every time I’ve applied for my own insurance I’ve had to complete a paper application, THEN a phone interview. Is this standard? I don’t know, it seems to be for me. I actually like the phone interview, because it allows me to explain the parts of my insurance application that a provider would find “unsavory.”
What’s “unsavory?” You might guess my pregnancies, but you’d be wrong. The thing that every single insurance provider wants to talk to me about is the medication I started taking after Maddie died. The conversation usually goes like this:
Insurance Representative: Your records show that you were on Klonopin from 2009 to early 2011. Was this for depression?
Me: You could say that. I started taking it because my daughter died unexpectedly.
Insurance Rep: I’m so sorry to hear that.
Now, at this point, three out of four reps will say something like:
Insurance Rep: I am SO SORRY, but I have to ask you these questions because they are required. I feel awful. OK. Is the condition “cured?”
And then I give a sarcastic laugh and say yes, and the rep says, “I know you’re not ‘cured’ but you’re no longer taking medication so I am going to mark you as such, OK? I’m so sorry.”
It’s awkward for everyone.
But the other day. The other day I was talking to a man who identified himself as a doctor at the beginning of our call. He went through the typical questions (has anything changed since you submitted your application, etc) and then got to the medication history.
Insurance Rep: It says here you took Klonopin for an extended period of time. Was that for depression?
Me: Yes. My seventeen month old daughter died suddenly. So you could say it was for depression.
Insurance Rep: Wow. I am so sorry. Wow.
Me: Thank you.
Insurance Rep: Did you ever have thoughts of killing yourself?
Me: No. …………is that a question for the application?
Insurance Rep: Yes. But I am surprised. If it was me, I would totally kill myself.
It’s an inappropriate situation for that sort of comment. Like, is that a trick question/statement/emotion? Are you going to deny me coverage based on my response?!?! But I am told this sort of thing with regularity. “I wouldn’t know what to do if my child died. I would die. I don’t know how you survive.”
I suppose this is meant to be comforting…like, good on ya, Heather! Ya lived through something really shitty! But I find myself almost irrationally annoyed by it. I think this is because I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t do ANYTHING. I just existed through the worst parts. Literally, I merely existed – I ate just enough, drank just enough water, and slept. And honestly, I truly believe that’s what most people would do.
This is where language fails me a bit, because the whole thing is tricky. You can say, “I don’t want to live in a world without my child.” But to actually not want to live, LITERALLY want to end your life, it’s a completely different level. And I truly believe (and I’ve definitely written here before) that ending your life disrespects the child. You have to parent their memory. You still have responsibilities to your baby, no matter how old he or she was at death.
Me: You don’t mean that. You would feel terrible, because it is a hideous, dreadful thing. But you wouldn’t kill yourself. You would live, because that’s what you have to do.
Insurance Rep: Nah, I’d definitely take a handful of pills. Anyway, it says you stopped taking the medication, are you cured?
I will never be cured. But I will always want to live.