Just to sum up the situation, the Maryland Health Insurance Plan, the only plan in the state of Maryland that covers people who were born with pre-existing conditions, terminated my insurance because I forgot to pay a month. They never gave me a warning, and never even notified me that I was dropped. Now I have literally no health coverage, with my only option being Medicaid, but that can take up to two months to get, and it sounds like you can only make under a certain amount of money to be eligible, and it doesn’t cover as much as MHIP.
In the meantime, I need to get medication, have labwork done, have a procedure before getting reactivated on the kidney transplant waiting list, prepare for dialysis by getting surgery for a fistula if I don’t find a donor soon, and have a potential donor get tested, who can’t get tested without surgery. Plus, it’s good to have insurance just in case something happens.
Why am I writing all of this? 1) To document the process, which might help me get insurance as soon as possible, 2) in the hope that someone might read this and have a suggestion, 3) to show people that it’s a myth that everyone can get health coverage. In fact, it’s impossible for me to get it right now and I’m offering $150 to anyone who can get it for me, 4) It may sound corny, but I really believe in fighting for what is right and just, and 4) There are probably people out there who can’t advocate for themselves and won’t be as persistent as I am, so if I can’t get insurance as I pester congressmen, state delegates, and the White House, how can they?
Most of the responses I’ve gotten over the last couple of days have gone something like this:
- “Oh, you’re in luck. There is one plan that’s like a safety net in Maryland that will cover people with pre-existing conditions. It’s called the Maryland Health Insurance Plan.” Then I say that’s the plan that dropped me. Then they say that’s bordering on criminal for the plan that is supposed to cover people to end the insurance and then refuse to reinstate it.
- “Medicaid is your only option.” But I need something now and I can’t get that now
- “You’re really screwed.”
- “We have rules and regulations. It has to go through a process. It takes 60 days…” These people don’t really care that the situation is urgent. It’s almost as if they take a perverse pleasure in explaining that they have to follow regulations.
So today, here are some of the things I did:
- Called medhealthinsurance.com. They rejected me and said they couldn’t offer me anything “today.” I asked if they could offer anything any other day. They hung up on me.
- Called Health Plan One. It took two hours on hold, but they let me know that they couldn’t cover me.
- Called the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. They told me that Obamacare, the new law prohibits insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions. I informed them they were wrong, that that only goes into effect on January 1, 2014 (it’s in effect now for children).
- Called the National Kidney Foundation who said to call the local HHS office.
- Made a complaint with the Maryland Insurance Administration who informed me that it would take a while.
- Listed a comment on the HHS website requesting information about how to get health insurance.
- Called the HHS “Office of Consumer Information and Insurance/Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan,” who told me to try MHIP or Medicaid.
- Contacted Congressman Van Hollen’s office, who said they would work really hard on it, but I knew I was at their mercy because there’s no other person who can represent me.
- Heard back from someone who responded to my craiglist ad offering $150 for information that will lead to my getting health insurance ASAP. She hatches a plan that isn’t ideal but just might work. Or not. I agree to pay $50 now and the rest later if it works.
- Emailed Seven on Your Side.
- Contacted the social worker at one of the hospitals I’m working with. She’s on vacation and has no backup.
- Contacted the financial coordinator and left a message.
- Contacted the financial coordinator at another hospital who had “no idea” what I could do.
- Contacted the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Surprisingly, they respond with links to many resources about kidney disease. However, one of the links says, “People who do not have private insurance can work with a social worker, nurse, or doctor to locate and apply for other sources of financial aid,” which is laughable.
- Contacted the Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation who suggested getting Medicaid.
- Contacted the White House who told me to “flag hardship” in my email so it will be noticed.
- Along the way, I also got suggestions to try Medicare, which does cover people who are on dialysis and have had transplant, but doesn’t cover those who are just a few months away from those.
One strategy is just to make sure my kidney function doesn’t go down. One way of doing that?