Thursday, February 02, 2006

i miss health insurance

It's one of those things you take for granted when you're in college and still covered by your parents' plan. Without it, you find yourself walking a bit more gingerly over patches of ice and taking a couple extra looks before stepping out into traffic. Lately, my parents have begun to really insist that I get some health insurance, after all, I'd been going without any for a while now (even though I still carry around the expired card, hoping that I can keep up the ruse in the emergency room for just long enough to get treated).

When you're young, fairly healthy (despite a limited diet and even more limited exercise) and a non-smoker, you'd expect this process to be fairly smooth (after all, we're the low-risk customers that these insurance companies love to draw their monthly fees from). Given this, the appropriate plan would cover a couple routine doctor's visits and some kind of coverage for the "get hit by a bus" scenario. Oh, and it'd be cheap, too (it's kind of depressing thinking about the cost of your health care in the number of servers it could buy).

Before long, I found myself on the phone with a sales agent for [unnamed insurance agency] who had a great quote for me that appeared to meet all of my requirements. In fact, the image of that incoming bus was in my head when I asked, "This plan will cover a catastrophic event, like me getting hit by a bus, right? That's a big deal to me. I need those emergency room bills to be covered." The voice assured me, "Yes. You'll be covered."

With that, I handed over my credit card information and looked forward to getting my new insurance card in the mail (I was given a choice between laminated and glossy, I went with laminated for the extra durability).

The next day, I was suddenly struck with what I believe is known as "buyer's remorse," which you'd think -- as an American -- I'd be used to by now. Nevertheless, I felt the urge to call and cancel my new plan. The woman I spoke with insisted that I'd need to fax over a termination & refund request, which I had no problem doing, but I had one more question to ask before I hung up:

"So, on this insurance policy that I'm cancelling, what would have happened if I'd been hit by a bus?"

"Well, this policy doesn't cover that."

"What do you mean? What if I got hit by a truck? Would it cover that?"

"No, no. This policy doesn't cover emergency room bills."

"Are you kidding me?! I explicitly asked for that coverage and was told I was getting it."

"Well, you would be entitled to a semi-private room at the hospital."

*laughing, in a Galgenhumor sort of way* "A semi-private room? Ma'am, a semi-private room isn't going to put my body back together. I asked for insurance that would pay for putting me back together."

"I'm sorry, I know you're cancelling this plan, but we do have some great plans that would cover emergency room expenses, like..."

"Ma'am, again, I'm sorry, but you can't honestly think I'm going to buy insurance from your company again?"

"... the ChoiceCare 1000..."

"Thanks for your help, I'm going to fax this out today."

*click*

The search continues...

p.s. If you're curious to know the name of this "health insurance company," I'm not going to name names, but I will say that they sure didn't provide adequate healthplans.com

8 comments:

masukomi said...

the national association for the self employed ( http://www.nase.org/ ) has a deal for it's members with Mega Health and Life. We had one of their insurance reps come out to talk with us here in Cambridge, he went over the plans available and worked really hard to find something that met some of my partners peculiar needs. Everything he said he backed up by pointing to the appropriate sections of the small catalog of plans he brought, and left with us. In the end we got exactly what we needed at a rather exceptional price.

Additionally even if you don't go for health insurance with mega NASE gives you a prescription plan and a dental plan (which just saved me about $700 while getting a crown) as part of the monthly fee (which is almost nothing).

Joel said...

Health insurance is a scam. If you REALLY need to get some insurance because you are paranoid, go with a health savings account with the $10,000 deductable. This will allow you to put $10,000 per year in an interest bearing savings plan (4%) and they issue you a debit card to use for medical expenses. The $10,000 is tax deductable and you will be covered in case that bus ever hits you.

Otherwise, save some money and pay as you go. You will get cash discounts at the doctor's office and if you do get hit by a bus, the emergency room is obligated to treat you with or without insurance.

kn0thing said...

Many thanks to all of you who commented/emailed me about my plight.

I think I've finally found a decent provider, but I'm still waiting to get my laminated card in the mail...

Lachlanjack said...

Thanks for the advice. Following your advice, I found that this website is good source to apply online for credit cards.

Joshuathomas said...

Damn, I never knew there were s many cards apart from citi and capital one. Card Gallery has the biggest selection of cards.

b-sphere-x86 said...

NASE.org is a scam. the few glowing reviews you'll find online of NASE.org will be off-set by the many horribly dismal horror stories you'll find, not to mention the Better Business Bureau's (www.bbb.org) low rating on NASE.ORG.

I was suckered-in by the 'Mega Health and Life' rep. The sales pitch is backed by a binder full of documentation with exceptional points, none of which (aside from 2 pamphlets and a vague business catalog) is yours to keep and examine. Even the paperwork you sign, there are no copies for you to keep.

Lack of carbon-copy technology is a slight oversite, I'm sure.

What you are left with is a hand-written receipt and a catalog by 'Americans for Financial Security' which sights all the vague 'member discounts' you'll receive as a member (none of which gets you any closer to finding a doctors office to visit today. Or tommarrow. Or next week, despite the sales rep.'s lies).

Even the pictures of all the happy smiling people in your catalog are soul-less and plastic.


'Within two weeks,' you're promised an information packet regarding your medical insurance info.

You'd expect.. maybe a medical directory and/or medical card of some sort.. within two weeks.

Nope. What you receive is a letter with a p.o. box return to somewhere in texas, indicating that the processing on your account is nearly complete. you're also directed to sign into NASE.org to register for your chance to win a $500 HP product, where you receive even more links to exclusive members-only access info--'to help you start saving money now.'

it's crap. all insurance maybe a scam, but some providers are more-so a scam than others.

i too am still looking for medical coverage. once i clear myself from NASE.org, i'll tighten my belt (and wallet) and find something a little more reputable.

before spending money (or time) on a venture that's too good to be true, spend a literal 5 minutes online and do some research.

google groups, blogger & bbb.org have recently become my new best friends.

hope you've had better luck since Feb, kn0thing.

July 2006
b-sphere-x86

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