‘Lots of kinks to work out’ understated: One reporter’s Obamacare experience


(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

There Obamacare goes again.

You may recall that I now have written twice about Obamacare blunders that I have experienced during the past couple of years – pretty significant ones, in fact.

Well, I’m sad to report, that despite repeated assurances (and even a personal phone call from one of the top brass from Blue Cross Blue Shield when this happened last year), that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois appears to be up to their same old tricks.

Not only that, but the exchange itself also is providing misleading, inaccurate information to callers. In fact, I think the bigger issue with the problems I’ve had have been the exchange (probably with the administration of it in the broke state of Illinois, specifically) than with the insurance companies themselves.

Let me explain.

Yesterday (on Thanksgiving Day, when the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois call center was closed) I received an email that read, “Your Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois application has been received.” The email even assigned me an application number (for 2017).

Funny thing is, I have not even signed on to the exchange to even begin looking for a policy for 2017. My current insurer is United Health Care (I did have the coveted Silver Compass policy until recently…more on that in a minute).

Last year, Blue Cross Blue Shield did this EXACT same thing – told me I had applied for 2016 (and in 2015 I did have Blue Cross Blue Shield, so such an error back then at least made at least a modicum of sense – I was already in their system). You can read my column last year about Blue Cross Blue Shield by clicking here. They even told me I had been approved in an email that arrived shortly thereafter. In fact, they sent both emails twice.

This morning, I spoke to an extremely courteous Blue Cross Blue Shield representative who assured me this is all going to get work, and he acknowledged my frustration, especially since this has happened twice. He could not have been more professional.

I’ll update this blog when and if I get an explanation.

Last year, someone at the exchange in the D.C. office explained to me that some insurers are attempting unscrupulous marketing tactics, and that maybe that was what was going on.

But they ain’t saints at the exchange either, let me tell ya!

A couple of months back, I got an email from the exchange (Healthcare.gov) saying, “Are you still on track to make $XX,XXX this year? If not, please call (such and such number) to avoid paying extra at the end of the year due to a higher than expected income.”

Well, I have been blessed with lots of good-paying work this year, and yes, I am on track to exceed the amount I listed when I signed up for insurance this time last year. So, I was honest about that, called Healthcare.gov, and the rep ASSURED ME, SEVERAL TIMES that nothing would change with the United Health Care Silver Compass policy that I already had except that my premium was going to nearly double (I pay just over $300 per month for my insurance, which I suppose is in line with people working jobs similar to mine in corporate America, so I don’t really have any complaints about that).

Well, the rep lied. Or had bad information, perhaps. Because I do NOT have the same Silver Compass policy that I had before.

I first found this out when I went to get a prescription filled. My co-pay used to be $5; now it’s $10. Then, when I went to the psychologist, I learned my co-pay had gone from $10 to $30. I see my psychologist (not to be confused with a psychiatrist, which prescribes medications) weekly due to my chronic PTSD diagnosis. I’m very grateful to UHC, actually managed by UBH, United Behavioral Health, for paying for weekly sessions. Of course, the magnitude of what I’ve been through and what led to the diagnosis is pretty heinous and unusual, to say the least.

Then there’s the time that instead of being charged my $5 co-pay, earlier this year during a trip to Walgreen’s (when I still had Silver Compass), I was charged $56 for a medication. I wrote about that several months back too. You can read that column by clicking here.

Be careful out there, folks, if you’re buying insurance off the exchange. It’s still a hot mess. No matter what, in all matters health care in the U.S., you MUST be your own advocate. Never settle when something doesn’t smell right. Ever.


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