I don’t know what I can really add to the heated discussions around the Affordable Care Act or ACA, also called “Obamacare.”
But I’ll try. I’ll add my personal experiences about finally getting affordable health care. No sources quoted, no statistics, but just my thoughts. And my opinions.
You know that I’m self-employed as a journalist and content producer. I am the company of me, and as such, I’ve been buying my own health insurance for years. Since 2008, I haven’t been happy about that, as premiums rose, along with my deductible and out-of-pocket—which I met one year recently thanks to a horse. Otherwise, I put off preventive care because frankly, I didn’t want to spend so much money. I’m not recommending anyone do this.
Let’s fast-forward to the present day. I thanked my former insurance carrier, but “I’m cancelling my policy,” and with the help of a good friend, proceeded to navigate the choppy, unchartered waters of Covered California. I was actually paralyzed at first, worried that something would go wrong and I’d end up stuck with my unsuitable coverage. I hoped the Affordable Care Act would work for me.
Chasing affordable health coverage
Yes, I was frequently on hold with Covered CA for up to 30 minutes, but yes, everyone I spoke to was helpful and cognizant that the system had flaws that were being addressed—and still are. My friend spent hours and hours researching his prospects and waiting on hold, and although I’m a health journalist, he patiently explained my options so I didn’t have to do what he did.
When I selected a plan online, and uploaded one piece of paper, I was “done”—with Covered California, that is. I chose a plan that made financial sense for me, and put me in network with two of our state’s best academic medical centers: U.C. Irvine and U.C.L.A. I can’t ask for more than that.
Feeling Blue about my carrier
Dealing with my insurance carrier, Blue Cross, was quite another story indeed. The behemoth’s voicemail system was and is in dire need of a revamp. The prompts don’t necessarily apply to what the consumer needs, and the long messages about application dates and payments drone on. And sometimes the voicemail simply disconnects, especially upsetting after being on hold for so long. I can hum the voicemail music by heart now.
I ultimately paid for my “initial” premium three times, since neither my first payment, nor my second, could be tracked by the company until weeks later—I made the third payment to ensure I had coverage on Jan. 1.
At Blue Cross, after connecting on the phone with five different representatives, I met someone who has continued to be my “anchor” via email and phone call. She is remarkable, and after so much uncertainty with the process, is a port in the storm.
Finally, my new doctor spent almost two hours with me, and ordered routine diagnostics which have been completed seamlessly. I’ve received follow-up calls and appointment reminders. I feel confident I’ve accessed some of the best medical care in the area.
People need health coverage
As a New Zealand resident by application, I experienced its single payer, universal health care system, and it was good. I also bought supplemental private insurance for very low rates, and it was better. I’m glad people in America can get health insurance if they need financial assistance or have a pre-existing condition. We all have a right to good health.
Including me. And you.
Nothing big and new ever gets off to a completely smooth start. Let’s give this time. Of course not everyone is happy with their new coverage. But many are.
And really: How could we possibly go backwards now?
(Photo courtesy Renjith Krishnan and FreeDigitalPhotos.net )