Friday, May 28, 2004

Will termination be as hard?

To quickly summarize: It took nearly four months for us as a family to secure health coverage by Kaiser Permanente. We applied for family coverage: two adults and two children. I was rejected because I had seen a doctor too many times in one year and had minor height weight variation. My husband's application was lost in the system but the children were put on a policy. The youngest aged 6 at the time was the policy holder and was responsible for the bills.

I had to challenge my rejection which took two months. I had not seen a doctor for four years until I wisely (or so I thought at the time) decided to have a "well woman" check up. My doctor did some tests and wanted to do more tests and so the referrals kept coming. I won't say any more, other than all the tests came back OK except for one... a slightly borderline high glucose result from which I got an erroneous type 2 diabetes diagnosis. All my other tests showed that the diagnosis was incorrect. An Hb test which tracks the amount of glucose attached to the red cells gave me a very very low score and my tri-glycerides which were about as low as they could be. A type two diabetic has very high readings of both these values. Stress had caused my elevated glucose. It was easier to diagnose the obvious than to look at the whole picture. I had convinced Kaiser Permanente that I was not a high risk health liability. They liked that. I'd shown I was interested in preventative medicine.

Over the course of the next couple of months we received four "Kaiser Permanente "Welcome" boxes. We received eight "How to choose a doctor" brochures. Myself and the children were billed separately. My husband's application was lost in the system. He had to reapply. He did and was accepted. We then had to cancel the other policies. How easy do you think that was? The bills were astronomical. We tried to pay using on-line banking. The money left our account but was not acknowledged by Kaiser.

It seemed to me that the system was designed to fail the members. They just got everything wrong. I think that you have to try very hard to get everything wrong. I don't think it happens accidentally. Are people worried about losing their jobs so errors are built into the system?

A week or so ago I heard that Kaiser Permanente had recently cremated a man by mistake. They didn't know who he was, although he had full ID. They said the body was unclaimed. They could have looked him up in their computer and seen his Kaiser Permanente account number and contacted his family.

As soon as I read this story I knew cancellation of the coverage was imminent. I was waiting for the new company benefits package to kick in. For a brief moment in time we would enjoy "double coverage" Imagine the wrangling over who would pay for what in the event of anyone actually being ill.

Today we tried to cancel. I had made enquiries earlier in the week about how to do it. A fax had to be sent to a specific number with all the information and signed by all parties covered. Wouldn't you know it - they gave me the wrong fax number. My husband noticed by chance that the fax log registered the fax as undeliverable. Luckily, he managed to get some on-line help at 4.30 pm on a Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. He was given another number with three different digits. No no no! I did not write the original number down wrong and make three mistakes. Its not something I do a lot.... make mistakes that is!

Bearing in mind we had to cancel the policy by June 1st to save nearly $700, we were cutting it fine. Today is May 28th 2004 and Monday is Memorial Day. Tuesday is June 1st.

We received confirmation that the fax had been sent. I mailed an original today dated 5/28/04 to the billing address which cost $13.95 for next day delivery. We think we have cancelled our coverage. We would like to know that the coverage has been cancelled. We expect to be billed for June and receive threatening letters for non-payment of the same.

On June 1st I will fax a copy of the fax confirmation along with the receipt of postage and a copy of the on-line delivery confirmation. I will keep sending the same until someone rings me up!

We have not seen a doctor or used a service in the eight month coverage period. We have spent nearly $5,000.


Blogger Pandora said...

It's reading things like that that makes me thank god for the NHS. If only Mr Blair didn't seem so enamoured of Kaiser Permanente.

12:08 AM  

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