The health insurance we’ve been purchasing through COBRA ran out at the end of May (you only get 18 months on COBRA). That means Mike and I spent the last six weeks researching our options. Since we are both independent contractors, that meant we had to purchase a private plan.
We applied for a plan with Blue Cross/Blue Shield (who we were with previously). Because we had exhausted our COBRA options, we qualified for something called Guaranteed Issue. Very simply, that means that if we couldn’t be underwritten for a regular plan because of pre-existing conditions, they still had to offer us coverage. I filled out our family application online while I was on the phone with an agent. We discussed that my pre-existing conditions are all pregnancy-related, and decided it would be best to waive maternity coverage.
The decision came back a few days later. I had been denied underwritten coverage because of c-section rehab, postpartum depression, and gestational diabetes. Mike had been denied because of his hospitalization last year. We weren’t worried, though, because we still had the guaranteed issue option…at least, we weren’t worried until we saw what that plan entailed:
$1,266 monthly premium
$4,000 deductible per person or $8,000 maximum family deductible
I had to bust out my calculator, but I figured out we could potentially spend $23,192 out of pocket in the next 12 months. I don’t expect my health insurance to be cheap, but I don’t expect it to be out of reach, either. I believe that you get what you pay for, but for $23,192 I’d think we’d have the best insurance in the world.
It turns out that they have to insure you, but they can charge whatever they want. When I called to be like WTFBBQ you denied me for all pregnancy-related conditions even though I waived maternity coverage, I was told it didn’t matter – I showed a “pattern of health problems.”
The new health care reforms don’t kick in until January 2014. There is a “temporary high risk” pool for people like us, but unfortunately (at least as far as Mike and I understand it), you have to have been uninsured for six months to be considered – meaning, this isn’t even available to us for half a year.
It looks like we have two options: either go into debt to have insurance for all of us, or just insure Annie. We are leaning toward just insuring Annie, but that terrifies me. The last three years have shown us how important insurance is. Our health can turn in an instant.
We’re extremely frustrated. This is another example of just how broken the health care system is and how many people get left out in the cold. Hopefully, by 2014 this won’t be the case anymore. I’m worried though. There is still opposition to reform…could it be derailed by 2014? Also, as this “temporary high risk” pool exhibits, the reforms still aren’t perfect. People (like us) are slipping through the cracks.
I spent hours on the phone today exploring other options (and don’t even get me started on how Blue Cross took money from our bank account three days early). We’re afraid to make the wrong decision. I am so stressed out about this. GAH. And the fact that we are still better off than many only makes the entire situation more despicable.