Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Covered California (Obamacare) Update - The Saga Continues

BREAKING NEWS: Hours after I posted what I wrote below, I received snail mail from Covered California notifying me that I'm temporarily qualified for the federal subsidy for only 3 months because they needed proof of income, citizenship, and social security. I scanned and uploaded those to the website immediately but as probably should be expected my first two attempts gave me an error message. Fortunately, I remembered a workaround from a couple of months ago when somebody from Medi-Cal assisted me with my enrollment and uploaded the documents to a different section for eligibility changes. We shall wait and see what's going to happen next.
          After I had my insurance choice changed from Anthem Blue Cross Silver to Healthnet Platinum, I waited a week for an acceptance letter from Healthnet. When that didn't arrive, I called Healthnet to find out if my name was in their system. To my consternation, it was not and January 1st was fast approaching and I didn't want to be without medical insurance at the start of 2014. I scoured the internet for similar problems and one of the websites mentioned a Covered California phone number that one of the commenters posted that wasn't publicized by Covered California.
          I called the number and I was surprised that it wasn't busy nor did it have a waiting time. Initially, they couldn't check on my status because the system was down for maintenance. I tried again an hour later and they were able to verify my choice of insurance. The person I talked with said he was going to forward my concerns to tech support. When I called Healthnet the next day, my name was already in their system. I was given my subscriber ID number by the customer service representative and another phone number to call where I could pay and choose a doctor. It was an automated system (I thought I was going to take to another person) and the option to choose a doctor was not available, but I was able to pay for the January premium by credit card. My name didn't come up but the ID number corresponded with my platinum coverage choice and amount that Covered California quoted.
          The next day, an acceptance letter arrived from Healthnet, which was out of turn chronologically. I then tried to register with the Healthnet website for several days but it wouldn't take my ID number until January 1st. When I was finally able to log in, I found out that I had been preassigned a doctor based in Huntington Park. I called the Healthnet again on New Year's Day and wasn't expecting a live person to answer when I didn't press any buttons, but someone named Candy answered and she was able to change my doctor. I even joked and asked her if she picked the short straw so she had to work on New Year's day. I printed out the overview of my coverage as a temporary ID in case I needed proof of insurance since I was joining my relatives the next day for a day trip to Pechanga Casino.
          So it was great relief to find out I was finally covered even though I had to pay for it and it's a lot cheaper than what I paid for private insurance in November  and December. It had been an almost painstaking three months to get covered which was not helped by being unemployed. Then another surprise came up. I got a Medi-Cal card in the mail and called their L.A. County office  who told me I'm also temporarily covered and can use it any time until more information comes in the mail, so I can choose a Managed Care Plan, kinda like an HMO. I'm temporarily covered by Medi-Cal until they can verify my projected 2014 income. Again, out of turn, my Healthnet ID card arrived a few days later.
People who haven't bought insurance by March 31st are supposed to be fined by the Federal Government. My question is how will the government know if they haven't bought it? I also think it's going to be a mess once the insurance companies start trying to collect the subsidized amounts (based on income) from the government. How well the Obamacare system works out remains to be seen.

          This is what would cost me to have health insurance: if I took COBRA from the job I was laid off from = $503, if I continued with Anthem Blue Cross Silver (which I subscribed in November and December on the open market)= $193, with Healthnet Platinum = $134. Medi-Cal, if it comes to it, is free.
Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

No comments: