Friday, September 25, 2009

Amerika Amerika

I've felt like crap all week, and now I'm finally down sick as a dog. I have a fever and I hurt everywhere, even my teeth.

Michael and I have had a wild couple of weeks dealing with both the American health insurance industry and the realities of second class citizenship.

For awhile, neither of us had health insurance, and Michael still isn't covered. We applied for the partner benefit with the college and the union back in the spring. We pulled together all kinds of documents, filled out all kinds of forms, thinking that this was taken care of. And it was for about 12 weeks. Then Michael makes a routine visit to the doctor in early September and finds out that he is not insured. Sure enough, he wasn't, and neither was I. It turns out that between August and September, my status with the college changed (I'm still finding all this stuff out) from full-time substitute to full time requiring that we apply for insurance and the partner benefit all over again, according to the rules of a certain company whose favorite color is blue. We were given no notice, no warning that anyone's insurance would be canceled. We received a letter from said insurance company on September 19. The letter was dated September 13. It said that our insurance had been canceled on August 1st. This is the only notification we've ever received from the insurance company.

So, we gathered all the documents, filled out all the forms, and filed again. It turns out that domestic partnership policies are handled not by the college, but by the City (as a CUNY professor, I am a New York City employee). The application is downtown going through Lord knows what kind of process, and in the meantime, my insurance is reinstated, but Michael's is not. And we have a $350 doctor bill hovering over our heads. I've been badgering and pleading with various college and corporate bureaucrats all week trying to get this resolved; and all that on top of managing 5 classes to teach.

Michael says (accurately I'm afraid) that we would be treated very differently if we were a hetero married couple. We've filed a complaint with the state insurance board, but I predict that it will go nowhere since the state board is probably a wholly owned subsidiary of said insurance company. I've been walking on eggshells between Michael's understandable fear and outrage, and Powers That Be at the college who I don't want to antagonize. Right now, The Insurance Company is right up there after Satan, Sin, and Death on my list.

To all you panicking white people out there afraid the gubmint gonna come in and take away your health benefits and give them to illegal brown people before they kill granny;
If you succeed in killing off health insurance reform this time, and the insurance company later on comes around and cancels your policy just because they feel like it, and you're faced with having to sell your house to pay the medical bill, then you are entitled to say only 2 words to your friend the Insurance Industry; " Thank you."

I'm going back to bed.


Rick+ said...

     Get well soon, Doug. You and Michael are in my prayers.

kishnevi said...

[putting on my lawyer hat]
Actually, the persons with whom you should be most angry is the College HR people who should have told you that you needed to reapply for insurance benefits. That is (or should be) part of their job.
The domestic partner shuffle, while it's obviously something you should not have to deal with, is really a sideshow to the main issue--which is that you were not covered at the time of M.'s doctor visit. A married hetero couple would face the same problem, and would still have to pay that $350 bill. (And from what I know--admittedly it's not my field of practice--you will have to pay the bill in the end. Just feel lucky that they didn't try to make you wait until the start of 2010, which some businesses and insurance plans would do.)
Of course, if Michael needs medical attention between now and the time the paperwork goes through, then he would be completely correct.

[taking off lawyer hat]
Meanwhile, I hope you get better quickly.

Counterlight said...

Thanks, but I hope it doesn't come to suing anyone.

Counterlight said...

Mercy! I get cranky when I'm ill!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Sleep is the best Medicine they always said in my home. Do get well both of you. You are in my prayers!

June Butler said...

Doug, I am so sorry. I know it really helps to hear that. There you are, you and Michael, living examples of what can happen EVEN IF YOU HAVE INSURANCE! - which you didn't actually have. Ha! You only thought you had it.

Yes, these are the games the health insurance folks play like a Monopoly board game, only with real people. And surprise, surprise! - they end up with all the money. I am furious on your behalf, but what good does that do?

Prayers for the restoration of good health for you and for the restoration of health insurance for both of you.

Much love and many blessings.

it's margaret said...

I won't even begin with Joel's and my experience with insurance companies.... it effing sucks.

I am so sorry you and Michael are going through this. I hope you both feel better soon--and you are both in my prayers.

June Butler said...

Hoping that today is better than yesterday.


Brad Evans said...
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Counterlight said...
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Counterlight said...

Thanks Grandmere, I'm feeling more functional.