I spent four and a half hours in the hospital on Friday, but I wasn’t sick at all. No, it was because I needed their assistance to navigate and figure out my options for health insurance in 2015. You no doubt have seen the ads, and heard the many news stories about how my health insurance provider, Boston Medical, had a dispute with Baystate Health Systems which means that any customers of this company can no longer be treated at either the big Baystate in Springfield nor the smaller very convenient Baystate Franklin.
This isn’t a big problem for me, I am happy with Cooley Dickinson, but I was there to figure out how to sign up and get into the system to choose a new plan and a new company. Their system is a first-come, first-serve. So you show up, take a number and then they limit this after a certain number of people have the paper tabs. My fellow customers and I waited and waited. Up at Franklin Medical Center they have a similar assistance program, but there you make firm appointments. It’s hit or miss at Cooley, so many of the people waiting with me had been there a long time or had tried before and come back to try again.
Despite what it says on TV, it’s NOT easy getting past the initial log in and password on the Mass Health Connector website. In fact if you have a name with a middle initial, it causes errors which lead it to not allow you to proceed!
The patient and overworked staff member at Cooley Dickinson, Miriam, tried and tried but we could never get the names on the forms to agree–and after an hour and filling in lots of on-line forms, we were stopped and forced to do it all over again on paper.
But because I have been more successful this year than last, I no longer qualified for any of their subsidized plans. Which is overall good, because it means my business is doing better. Maybe you can call me a success story, having graduated from subsidized plans to being a member of the class of people who pay big bucks for monthly premiums. I am now part of the great wave of Americans who are paying and thus helping those who earn less than us get the nearly free care. It’s classic wealth re-distribution but I understand the big picture, and it means fewer people using the emergency room as their primary care doctor.
If you’ve begun navigating this, remember that it’s only difficult for those who are trying to get a subsidy. The rest of us, me included now will take the tax deduction from the large monthly premiums and now get used to a new price and the hefty deductible. But when I added up the cost of a plan without the deductible, the yearly total was higher than with the deductible. So I’ll just be ready to fork over $2000 a year in cash and pay relatively lower premiums in exchange.