Maybe you’re like me and support the idea of health care reform. In my case I’m overweight (6 ft. 285 lbs. so I could be a linebacker or a taller version of Homer Simpson and don’t waste time guessing because you are right) and was denied regular health insurance coverage because of my weight.so when at least some health care reform was passed it directly affected me. Now there was a pre-existing condition plan.
I Hope You Like Bureaucracies!
To the Obama administration’s credit the initial interface to the pre-existing condition is pretty nice. www.healthcare.gov for example is a very well done site and can lead you without much fuss to your state’s pre-existing condition application, or if you are like me and live in a state that doesn’t have a program you will be led to the federal program. The application itself isn’t bad although some of the requirements are tough for some. For example in order to apply you have to be without health insurance for six months. If you have health insurance that excludes your condition and need treatment for your condition you have to cancel your policy, wait six months and then get coverage. Kind of a bad deal if you have cancer.
So my story, though frustrating for me, is not nearly as frustrating as this program will be for some people. And sadly, this ObamaCare bureaucracy will cause some people to die while trying to use this program. Literally.
Why is this the case? Well it’s all to prevent people from getting insurance just for the times they are sick—that’s always a loss to the insurer. The solution? Oh you know… NATIONAL HEALTH CARE, SINGLE PAYER. In that system where health care for every citizen is covered by tax payers there isn’t a concern about pre-existing conditions. Everyone is covered. You might not believe me, but it is the only humane and civilized solution and it can actually save a huge amount of money over existing health care costs in the United States.
My Pre-Existing Condition Experience
I applied for insurance through the pre-existing condition plan the first time in September, 2011. You can apply online but they require that you send proof that you’ve been rejected coverage before they will approve your application. In my case my proof was in a rejection letter for my weight which it turns out I had misplaced, so I requested a new letter from the company and sent it in and… My pre-existing application was cancelled. There is a 30 day window (why? why ask why) between when you apply and they receive your proof.
Application, Take 2: So in November I applied again online and sent in my letter of rejection (which still has to happen separately and through postal mail) as well as a voided check to allow ACH withdrawals. In late November I got an approval letter and then in mid to late December I sent them my first check to activate my insurance.
On January 3rd, 2012 they deposited my first check (as expected) but then on January 12th, 2012 they took out an additional payment from my checking account via ACH. This wasn’t expected and caused my account to go overdraft to the tune of a $34 fee (thank you Chase) so I called them and after several attempts (dialing the support number at least five times to even get the phone to ring and then spending 30 minutes on hold when it did answer) I found out that they had set the effective date of my insurance to December 1st, so I owed them a month for December, a month for January and in a couple weeks they were going to bill again on the 1st for February. In effect I will have been billed three times before I have any ability to actually use the health insurance.
If a payment fails or a check bounces they cancel your insurance and you cannot reapply for six months.
Tips for People Enrolling in the Pre-Existing Condition Plan
The main thing is to get your ducks in a row before you even start your application:
- Make sure you have met the requirements and that you have all supporting documentation.
- Send your proof on insurance denial immediately after you apply and
- When you are approved send your first premium check the same day you receive your approval.
Remember you are already paying for insurance as of either the 1st or the 15th of the month they approve your application BEFORE you even send them the first check, and they take their time processing even after they receive and then deposit your check.
Count on losing a month of time no matter what you do, but if you are slow like I was you will end up paying for two months of insurance which you cannot use.
Relevant Addresses and Phone Numbers
National Finance Center
Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan
P.O. Box 60017
New Orleans, LA 70160-0017
General Support Line: 866-717-5826
Insurance Line (once you have an Enrollee Number): 800-220-7898