Last year I had full health insurance coverage under my one-year teaching contract. Unfortunately when I was only offered a part-time position this year (budget cuts) I was no longer eligible for coverage. I could do COBRA at over $400/month or go with a much more reasonably priced individual plan from the same carrier I had had previously, Blue Cross. Sounds too easy right?
Well the first hit came when my initial application for an HMO plan was rejected because I had delivered my child two years ago via c-section (healthy full-term pregnancy, no complications, perfectly healthy newborn). I finally got a hold of a human being in customer service who explained to me that the procedure had knocked me out of eligibility for that plan but she assured me that BC had plenty of other affordable options. I chose one of those options and as she described the details I realized that there were no maternity benefits included. "Well what if I get pregnant. I'm not planning on it any time soon but what if it happens." "Well your pregnancy would not be covered. You need to add maternity benefits to this plan." So I did, for an extra $100+. The plan come to about $280/month but wait, there's more . . . for that monthly price I am also required to provide documentation that I have been covered by insurance for the past 18months with no lapses exceeding 62 days. If I don't then I'm subject to a 6-month waiting period before aspects of my benefits kick in. At this point I was blurry eyed and confused.
I thank God that I am a healthy individual who rarely visits a doctor's office (I've got the records to prove that), I can't imagine what it's like for people who are actually ill or have suffered a serious illness in the past. The need for a public option is evident; sick people shouldn't have to live in fear and spend there energy on customer service calls. I wish the news outlets would preface each health care debate story with the profits figures for each of the major insurance companies as well as campaign donations figures for all members of Congress (Dems and GOP) and perhaps most important with personal stories from people who have lost their jobs and their insurance along with them.