Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison

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State of the world


The ongoing chinese curse that is my life, lately.

Some of you may recall that we ran out of money in September, after nearly four years of unemployment, with the added joy and bliss of rubyloot having cancer, surgery, and radiation treatment in that time.

Well, we found someone who offered to help us get out of the house, with $15K (what we figured we'd need to live for six months while maintaining health coverage, but without the huge cost of paying for first and second mortgage).

In November, through a combination of circumstance and miracle, I finally got work, a 6-12 month contract doing validation at Intel. I'm being paid well, though not as much as I was making before I was laid off - but we were having to juggle things to catch up on the cash flow, and in December, a second mortgage payment was taken out of our account, without notification and unexpected by me. As I had deliberately stopped making them in November, anticipating the sale of our house, this was a shock, a surprise, and a catastrophe, because Kaiser Permanente, the largest HMO in the country at this point, was expecting there to be sufficient money in that account to take out their regular payment. There was not.

Now, Kaiser was using automatic debit because, from October 2003 thru January 2004, they had been crediting the money we were paying them, by check, to the wrong account. They terminated our memberships because of their mistake. In order to reverse their decision, purely because of 'procedure' (cough, bullshit, cough) they insisted on being able to make automatic withdrawals. We needed to keep the coverage, so we agreed, under protest.

Their policy is that if you miss two payments you are terminated. We thought things would be OK, with enough money in the account in January, they'd be caught up. Still, I checked with them and advised them that they should check first, because many companies gave their employees the 3rd of January as a holiday. That happened at Intel, and thus, my weekly paycheck (via Kelly IT) was one day late. Wednesday, the usual payday, was the 5th. Thursday was when I got paid. Kaiser, despite my contacting them, did not attempt to adjust anything. In fact, they didn't contact me at all; I only found out that things had gone wrong when I tried to get meds and found that I'd been terminated again. A letter arrived a week later advising me of the issue. I also got a letter telling me that they'd take out a double payment, even though they'd terminated me. Yes, this is efficiency.

I submitted a written appeal, as required, to their FAX. When I called to ask whether the fax had been recieved, I was told "It takes six days for fax communication to be delivered."
Yes, it takes longer for something to go from a machine in the office where things are decided, than it takes for a certified letter to be delivered.

So, I called after six days and asked, "What's the status? When can I expect a decision?"
I was told, "You'll recieve a call and a letter by Friday."

No, I did not get either. I called on the following Monday, and was put off again - "It's in committee being reviewed" etc. etc.
The time after that, on Friday, I get the genius of Kaiser Direct Pay Customer Service.
"It takes at least a month for the review process to complete."
"So, what're we supposed to do for insulin, asthma medication, and so forth in the mean time?"
Unspoken, 'that's not MY problem', as she says, "Sir, you're not the only member whose appeal is being considered."
"I don't see how that answers my question. When will I get an answer?"
"Look," she says, "We're doing you a favor by even considering this."
I blew up. "Do NOT give me a line of bullshit. You are required by law to consider all appeals. Good bye."

I doubt that it had an effect, but today I got the letter, sent a while back, that says, "We regret to inform you that we must deny your appeal."

So. I'll be communicating with the state insurance commission. I want a written record of their deliberations including an explanation of the reasons. Like, is it because we're too old, and both need medications that are fairly expensive, and they've got the long-term fear of carrying a cancer survivor with asthma and diabetes?
Especially since she's become disabled (can't walk far or stand long without cartilage in your knees) after the treatment, and they're foreseeing a lot more potential expense?
Or is it because they don't believe that after nearly beggaring myself to keep their coverage, that I'm a bad payment risk?

Enough of Kaiser.

The upside: the sale is going to go through. We won't be getting what we wanted as cash-out but it'll be better than going into foreclosure, and it'll be enough to serve as seed money. We get to sign papers tomorrow or Sunday, and then the closing is within a few days after that. And we'll be turning over the house on the 1st of March.
Earlier than that, if I can manage it.


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