This story first appeared at CNBC.
The numbers are staggering: In the first 24 hours of open enrollment in Obamacare on HealthCare.gov, just six enrollments managed to make it through the glitch-riddled system, according to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In this third installment of our first-person accounts of trying to sign up, Joan Carrico, a registered nurse and cancer patient, tells her story about scrambling to find insurance after receiving a cancellation notice. Here is her first-person account of what happened.
I'm a 60-year-old registered nurse with an individual Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BC/BS) PPO policy. I have been battling cancer for 6 years. I recently received a letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield stating that my existing policy is being canceled as of Dec. 31 because it doesn't cover certain benefits required under Obamacare. I was devastated. Next, I was bewildered as I was told repeatedly by President Obama that I COULD KEEP MY POLICY! What happened to that promise? In addition, I've been with the same plan for over 6 years. Why shouldn't I be "grandfathered?"
Next, I repeatedly tried to log on to the government web site, Healthcare.gov, and have never been able to gain access! Now I really was frightened. I tried different sites and quickly learned that I wouldn't be eligible for any subsidies due to my husband's income level. I might even be rated because of my cancer diagnosis. My agent confirmed everything and attempted to be reassuring. What?! How in the world could this be happening to me?! I was in tears and disbelief.
After a sleepless night, I learned that I could choose from a Gold, Silver, or Bronze plan (HMO or PPO) being offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield. As my doctor doesn't accept HMO plans, my best choice would probably be the Bronze or Gold PPO. However, my premiums and out-of-pocket costs are INCREASING $4,500-$6,500 per year. What happened to saving $2,500 per year as purported by the current administration? Also, these rates include a 10-percent federal tax ... so much for "no new taxes!"
My current insurance premium is not cheap ($648.42/month with a $1,500 deductible); but, I have a cap that has kept my rates steady for the last 6 years. The new plans are confusing with deductibles, co-insurances, and out-of-pocket costs ranging from $5,100 to $6,350 per year with NO premium rate caps. My annual bottom line costs will be about $12,500 to $16,500, with no caps and will probably increase the following year(s)...This is insanity!
So, what I am getting under these new policies? Nothing, as far as I'm concerned, unless you count maternity care, pediatric vision, etc. I chose my own plan, which has served me very well. My husband is a saint: He is 72 (on Medicare with a private supplemental) and working full time to make sure I receive the necessary medical care.
I was working full time as a registered nurse when I became seriously ill with cancer. To make matters worse, I'm not eligible to receive any Social Security disability as I was a few work credits short ... so much for government assistance! I keep praying that my health will improve so I can work part time as an RN or find other employment that will help pay for my increased costs.
So, where does this leave me? I'm currently receiving chemo every 3 weeks at a cost of about $27,000 per infusion. Until May 2013, I was receiving chemo about every week for almost 2 years. Needless to say, I'm happy to be alive and fortunate to have BC/BS of MI and my incredible University of Michigan doctors, who refer to me as their "miracle patient!"
What exactly does this mean for me? I probably won't receive an "acceptance letter" from Blue Cross Blue Shield. My agent has inferred that I won't know until after I get my labs, see my doctor, and get my chemo infusion (all approaching $27,000) on Jan. 1, 2014, whether or not I have insurance that will actually pay for this...YIKES! How and why is this happening to me?! I'm still devastated, confused and petrified.
IN CONCLUSION, IF THIS INSURANCE IS SO GREAT AND HELPING SO MANY AMERICANS AND THE ECONOMY, WHY AREN'T ALL AMERICANS, INCLUDING THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND CONGRESS VOLUNTARILY SIGNING UP FOR IT? OR, AT THE VERY LEAST, WHY AREN'T THEY REQUIRED TO TAKE IT, LIKE THE REST OF US ORDINARY AMERICANS?! I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT THIS LAW WOULD BE REPEALED IF THEY WERE REQUIRED TO PRACTICE WHAT THEY PREACH!