This is a very long story of how we took a crash course in health insurance and lived to tell about it. The story is broken down into monthly segments which involved many hours on the phone and tears of anguish as I wondered if the savings was worth the battle.
Our 4th baby was born December 29, 2014 and we received a letter that month saying our 2014 plan did not meet The Affordable Care act qualifications so I quickly signed up for a family plan through eHealthInsurance.com. It was very expensive at $982.13 per month so I started researching cheaper options and learned that we could get subsidies through the Maryland Health Exchange.
I signed up for MD Exchange mid-January naively thinking it would go through instantly and I could cancel my expensive EHealth plan and not put the baby on that plan. I was so wrong. After filling out all paperwork for our family, the site locked me out and my application froze. I could not get back in. The following is my futile attempts to get someone to help resolve my case.
1/28 - called Maryland Health Connection and explained the problem, was told my issue could not be resolved that day as it was a technical issue but that they'd elevate my case.
1/30 – called Maryland Health Connection, was told my case
was escalated again.
At this point I realized I had to keep the coverage we had through EHealth for another month and get the baby on this plan because we didn't know when the MD exchange would be active and we already had doctor visits lined up for our newborn.
The following are my attempts in February to resolve the MD Health coverage - the carrot was dangling at $658.02 for myself and my husband and $63 for all four kids = Total for family $721.02. Savings from EHealth plan $261.11
– called Maryland Health Connection, was told my case was escalated again.
– called Maryland Health Connection, 23 minute wait time before live person answered, total call time 53 minutes while person put me on hold repeatedly to check notes, take smoke break, consult management and finally say they could do nothing.
Realized that the plan I had signed up for at the beginning of January was an HMO and that would not work for my travel plans so now I wanted to change the plan and I was still locked out of the system!
2/12 – called Maryland Health Connection, 20 minute wait
time before live person answered, total call time one hour and 16 minutes and I attempted to explain that I needed to change the plan I had originally signed up for. Was told my case was being escalated.
Realized that calling two days in a row might be excessive so waited until later in the month for next call.
2/18 - got frustrated with waiting and complained on Twitter. Someone actually wrote me back and asked if they could help resolve the problem. I figured I wasn't getting anywhere with the phone calls so why not!
2/20/15 - called Maryland Health Connection, 19 minutes 30 seconds wait time, nothing resolved.
2/26/15 - Twitter MD Exchange gave me the option to change plans after I expressed the need for a PPO.
2/26/15 - At this point we suddenly we got temporary cards in the mail for the 3 older kids but nothing for the baby!
2/26/15 – called Maryland Health Connection, 25 minute wait time,
was told there is nothing they can do for baby or parent cards but to try calling State Medicaid since they issue the health cards.
2/26/15 - called state Medicaid and they were able to issue a number for baby and give it to me by phone.
I realized I needed to continue coverage with EHealth for both adults since the Exchange was not forthcoming in when our application would be resolved but at least I could take the kids off the plan since they were obviously now covered by the Exchange. This would take another month for EHealth to accomplish so I had double coverage which could get us into a lot of trouble if we had any medical issues that month as both parties would fight over who's responsible. Fortunately we had nothing come up.
3/3 - Twitter MD Exchange asked what date I wanted PPO coverage to start. Considering I had already paid EHealth for March coverage I confirmed 4/1 start date.
Yeah for Twitter! I then proceeded to finally cancel our expensive EHealth plan because I finally had confirmation that a new plan would be starting on April 1st!
3/9/15 – was billed Jan – March coverage in the amount of $2,204.46 for the MD Exchange HMO plan retroactively all because I had my credit card in the Blue Cross system so it went on my credit card without any warning! It would seem that my husband I had been suddenly approved for MD Exchange for the original plan and they wanted us to pay for service we couldn't use for first two months!!! I was so mad because we'd been paying another plan through EHealth for these two months all because no one could tell me when our application would be resolved through MD Exchange and they were charging us for the HMO and not the PPO that I had called to request.
3/9/15 - called Blue Cross to dispute $2,204.46
charge, the guy was able to remove auto pay and said the charge would be reimbursed. Yeah!
3/24 - Received credit card statement showing the $2,204.46 charge had not been removed.
3/24 - called BlueCross to find out why I
hadn't been reimbursed the money for Jan – March plan. The lady today said it was impossible to
reimburse on their side until the Exchange voids the plan. No idea why the guy on 3/9 said it would be reimbursed.
3/24 - called Maryland Health Exchange – 38 minute wait time. Spoke with Dione about the situation of having two
insurances put through by the exchange.
Requested that the HMO be voided in the system so that I can get reimbursed
$2,204.46 by Blue Cross. Was told it’s
impossible to void a plan and then put through a new application because we are
past the cut off date.
So all my efforts to save $261.11 per month had resulted in multiple plans, a $2,204.56 bill that no one could seem to void and I had already canceled our EHealth plan! Good think I'm not the suicidal type! At this point I needed a few days to calm down before calling anyone back.
3/30/15 - called Maryland Health Exchange – 52 minute wait time before getting a live person on the line. Was told that my situation has been escalated to Tier
2. Someone worked on my case on
3/26. I clarified that I want the
HMO Healthy Blue Platinum plan voided so that I can get reimbursed by Blue Cross
for Jan – March and I’d like to keep the PPO
Preferred 500 plan that starts on April 1st.
3/30/15 – called Chase Visa to dispute the $2,204.46 charge, they were understandably confused about the entire situation but agreed to send a dispute form for me to fill out.
3/30/15 - BlueCross – 22 minutes wait time. I explained that I’ve called the Exchange
twice now to have the Jan-Mar plan voided and that I’ve called ChaseVisa to
dispute the charge. They maintain there
is nothing they can do until the exchange puts through the cancelation of the
policy. I said that I understood their position but mine was that I was NOT paying this bill for double coverage. Do you want to know the biggest irony here - my EHealth plan was also through Blue Cross so they could clearly see I had been paying them every month and that I was being double billed but because the HMO plan had come through the Exchange, there was nothing they could do!
Twitter MD Exchange was right, we did indeed get the PPO coverage available for 4/1 and there was a bill waiting on Blue Cross website for the PPO plan of $658.02 so I paid it and felt some small nugget of relief that we had coverage and cards to use. There was still the haunting issue of how to get exchange to void the HMO plan but now that we had coverage I was satisfied that I had done everything possible to resolve the situation and I was ready to take a break on the frantic long calls to exchange. I decided to wait for them to reach out to me!
5/27/15 - I'm walking out the door to catch a flight when I suddenly get a phone call from the exchange asking me to clarify what I needed again with the two plans - almost two months since my last phone call to them! I once again clarified that I needed the HMO Healthy Blue
Platinum plan voided and was told they will put in for a refund for the Jan-March amount. She said she would call back next week.
6/21/15 - I’m worried
they canceled the wrong plan because I don’t seem to have a payment due for July. Very scared and worried I don’t have health
insurance. Also, I never got a call
back. We're leaving for our family vacation in July, are we going to be without coverage?!? I will probably lose my will to live if I have to speak with anyone from Exchange again so I go back to Twitter.
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