Still Sidetracked

I feel I must apologize once again for my inability to really answer any correspondence for the site or spend any serious time on new posts or revisions. I appreciate the wonderful letters and feedback I have received lately, it has really buoyed me through this trying time.  There is nothing like knowing another child can have a normal life!

I may as well just tell you why I am so preoccupied.  As usual, it’s medical insurance paperwork.  (The amount in dispute is more than a whole year’s disposable income for us, it’s a big deal.)

On October 7, 2008, I received a letter from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the government agency in charge of federal worker healthcare contracts, which said that Blue Cross Blue Shield had promised to “provide benefits for the disputed claims.”  

I thought my family’s long, three-and-a-half year nightmare was over.  Unfortunately, in spite of my follow ups with the government, Blue Shield has neither sent the promised revised explanations of benefits nor the promised reimbursement. They did, however, promise the government rep that they would take care of it by November 7, 2008.  They didn’t.

This is the same healthcare plan that Barack Obama would like to offer everyone for US healthcare reform.  Look, I am still high from election night.  I voted for him even in the primaries.  But I don’t think this is the right way to reform our system.  Not at least if we want better results for less money.  Insurance companies have put federal workers in an even worse place than everyone else with insurance in this country.  We don’t have the right to sue the insurers.  We don’t have the right to seek independent medical review the way people do in states.  And so on.  

I don’t think granting those things is enough to solve our healthcare crisis, but you can imagine the field day insurers are having with those of us who have even less recourse than everyone else.
President-elect Obama would like to extend the coverage he and the Congress have to everyone else.  Well, I have the same PLAN he has — I’d like to know how I can get the same COVERAGE.  You see, the insurance companies are well aware of who is in Congress and who is not.

I’d like my life back.  If government (as opposed to PRIVATE insurance companies) were doing this to people, there would be rioting in the streets and tea thrown into harbors. Or at least a lot more gun buying.  I have a half room in my small house devoted just to insurance paperwork, and that doesn’t include the boxes, filing cabinets, and shelves full of the stuff elsewhere in my house.  

The President-elect’s Mother had to spend the last months of her life arguing with insurance companies from her hospital room.  By contrast, my Aunt from a wealthy country in Europe that spends considerably less per capita on healthcare than the US but gets better results and covers everyone — my Aunt the career secretary fought cancer for fifteen years, in which time she flew airplanes, climbed mountains (even part-way up Everest), took regular vacations in other countries, drove a nice car and lived in a nice apartment (her ability to enjoy life probably partly responsible for why she lived so long with a cancer that usually kills in under five years).  When she died, she left an INHERITANCE from her savings to all of her grand nieces and nephews for their college education.  Can you imagine anyone in this country suffering from cancer for fifteen years and leaving anything but medical bills and paperwork?

How bad does the economic crisis have to get before we decide we can’t afford the luxury of an industry that spends $450 billion a year on administrative costs in order to delay and deny care for their own profits?  The cost to the lives of ordinary Americans is incalculable.  I know it has been to mine.

(I wonder how Oprah’s Peter Walsh would make that odious medical paperwork clutter disappear and give me back my peace!  Or at least give me back the ability to do something useful with my time, such as help people the way I’m hearing the site is helping.   I tried to sign on to the declutter plan, but that ten minutes a day thing only goes so far with this stuff dominating the house…  And my life…)