Thank You, Speaker Pelosi and President Obama!

As Reader’s Digest used to run those articles:  I AM JOE’S HEALTH INSURANCE.

I am an average American in a lot of ways. Nielsen thinks I’m an average American:

Neilsen ratings envelope

And, today, the zeitgeist decided to make me an Average American ambassador:

I had health insurance. It’s been spotty these last ten years. Sometimes I have it, sometimes not.

But they have a gun to my head. If I get sick, if I even have to go to the emergency room, the bills are devastating. Any major problem would be ruinous. We’d probably lose just about everything.

I learned that the hard way when I got to sit in an emergency waiting room for six hours, and, after an involuntary (and surprise) enema and a CAT scan, I was given six vicodin and told to see a doctor.

A week later, a bill arrived for over $5,000. Then a radiologist’s bill for $300 and another bill from the DOCTOR for $200. After a lot of letting them paw through our finances (including a denial because we have “land” in California (a house-sized lot past Apple Valley in the desert, which my wife purchased forty or fifty years ago and is still nearly as worthless as when it was bought back in the California land speculation craze of whenever.)

“You could sell your land!” they shrieked.

“For WHAT?” we asked. The only apples in Apple Valley are in the name. We have a Joshua Tree growing in the middle of the land, so if anybody ever used it, they’d have to kill the tree.

Finally, after writing a long letter (that I may one day reprise here) that indicated how actionable their “treatment” had been, they shaved $3000 off the bill, and I paid it off over two years.

I can’t afford to live like that. One bout of extreme intestinal pain gets you a two-year debt and six vicodin. (Of which I still have five.)

Health care is, in many ways, a very personal issue to me, because, no matter how healthy you were when you were young, decline is inevitable and inexorable, and without access to health care, I am just road kill for a for-profit system of insurance-administered, lackadaisical systemic health care. (My doctor is in one clinic, we have two hospitals, and even a pharmacy. Once you’re in the PeaceHealth system, you owe your soul to the company store.)

Oh, did I mention that basically what PeaceHealth did, for that letter detailing the LACK of treatment that I was supposed to pay $5000+ for? They gave me the Blue Cross rate. I know because here, during tax season, I see a LOT of medical bills. And I noticed someone with a similar story, and they paid more or less what I did. So, for NOT being insured, PeaceHealth charged me an extra $3000.

I literally can’t AFFORD to be sick.

Teabagger wants me to either die or he will shoot me?

So:

I had been with my latest health plan (which had just refused payment on an eye exam ordered by the hospital which I agreed to and had the single worst opthalmic experience that it has ever been my misfortune to receive). We let my coverage lapse for a month. I reapplied, but for a better plan with a higher deductable, put $500 on tap for them to take from my bank account, IF THEY FELT LIKE IT, and, while we applied online, it took them two fortnights and a metered envelope to reply.

Ironically, except for some chronic middle-age stuff, I have been healthy all of my adult life and childhood. Which is why this health care stuff is kind of alien to me. So, it was with some degree of interest that I looked forward to getting back on their insurance plan. Indeed, I’d already paid three times the “group” cost a week ago for a common, generic drug. Which went from about $10 to about $50 a bottle when my old policy lapsed.

This is the actual honest-to-gosh envelope I received this afternoon.

And this is the actual honest-to-gosh letter.

click on image for the original letter @ 783 x 1024 px

That’s right. I am not making this up. My ODIOUS health plan has rejected me for “pre-existing conditions.” The day AFTER health care reform passed the House, but before the President signed it into law yesterday.

For four incredibly common health issues. (The one NOT mentioned, the fifth, is age. But they can’t say that.) The point is, in insurance-ese I’m not worth keeping alive, basically. I’m not a solid “profit” stream.

The ODS health plan “advertises” on Oregon Public Broadcasting a lot, and I’ve always thought it hilarious — who would call a health plan ODS, when we have a 1040EZ and texting is rife? Yes, they ARE an odious health plan. When I said to my pharmacist, yes, my Odious health insurance is just that, he had that sudden light bulb over the head moment and laughed. “I’d never thought of that,” he said, and he’d been hearing it for years.

But they are the Odious Group of Companies, and they live in the Odious Tower, dispensing Odious Health Care, as near as my experience tells me. What a PERFECT name for a lousy health insurer.

The ODS health plan probably has lots of employees who never thought of the pun, either.

But they ARE and most assuredly have been odious in every single solitary dealing that I had with them in the year that they were my health insurer.

But the group discount on my drugs was nice.

Now, I’m back to paying retail. Ouch. But now, hopefully, the odious crap ENDS.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart (literally) President Obama and Speaker Pelosi. And Harry Reid, et al.

And that’s no joke.

Courage.

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