KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why Tying Health-Care Coverage to Employment Is Stupid

Grrrrrrr! I have steam coming out of my ears and feel strong enough to best a sumo wrestler just now.

I've posted about my husband's being laid off from a tiny cabinetmaking firm and getting ready for self-employment. As soon as we found out that he was going to be laid off, we took every step we could to ensure continuing health-care insurance coverage. He signed the paperwork indicating that he wanted our policy to continue under COBRA.

We've heard from our attorney that our incorporation paperwork for Ed's new company, Master Cabinetworks, Inc., has been duly filed and that his company officially exists in the state of New York now, but we haven't yet received our copy of the paperwork so that we can trot to the bank and get a business loan, which will cover, among many other things, the first month's premium of whatever health-insurance policy we can get for Ed's company. Meanwhile, Ed's former boss had promised that he would cover 1 month of insurance premiums for us, from October 5 to November 5, after Ed's layoff.

This morning, I blithely tried to log in to the web site of the mail-order company through which our erstwhile policy requires us to obtain maintenance medications, and I was locked out. Headed over to the insurance company's web site to log in, got locked out there too. Our coverage has been canceled! We didn't even get any notice, and neither did Ed's former employer. As of this moment, we're completely without health-care and medication coverage. Three of four of the still-at-home members of our family take maintenance (long-term) medications that are incredibly expensive without insurance coverage. Right now, we need to order refills of one of the drugs and send in new prescriptions for several others.

Ed made some phone calls to see what is going on. It appears that Ed was the only employee to be covered by the policy we had, so if no other employees at the company are covered under the policy, the insurer isn't required to continue the plan through COBRA. And the employer's secretary-bookkeeper didn't know that when she gave Ed the COBRA continuation forms to complete. But we still should've been given some notice by the insurer.

Situations like this are exactly why health-care insurance should not be tied to employment. It's a damn good thing that I'm eating right and exercising, because that's apparently the only health care I'm going to be able to afford for a bit. If you hear a loud explosion, that'll be me going kaboom once my blood-pressure meds run out.


Imperatrix said...

Oh, Katharine, I'm so sorry that you and your family are being badgered at every step! I hope that things will change soon, for you and for this country.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

I've just e-mailed several major national and local news media organizations about a possible feature story. Never, ever piss off a word person. ;-)

Anonymous said...

The reason they don't tell you ahead of time is that you'd go out and get your prescriptions refilled and make appointments and have other expensive procedures done, and the poor insurance companies just can't afford to actually provide you health care.

Have you told your story at the Michael Moore Sicko site? I think he was telling people to mention his name when dealing with insurance companies.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Yes, I e-mailed Michael Moore with my story.

Stephanie E. said...

Ugh! How horrible! My uncle was laid off unexpectedly and was out of work for several months until a few weeks ago, and without health insurance, they were in dire straits. Though my aunt was having serious, painful medical problems, possibly requiring surgery, she refused to see a doctor while they lacked insurance. I had my own experiences with lack of insurance and then lack of decent insurance for a few years, in which time I too refused to ever see a doctor, and even that was scary and frustrating, so I can't imagine lacking it in your circumstances.

I haven't even seen Sicko yet. I know how upset and angry it's going to make me, so I've been putting it off.

I'll be thinking of you as you work to figure this out. Imagine big hugs from the Midwest. :)

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

Thank you, Stephanie. Hugs are always gratefully accepted here.

Anonymous said...

Oh Katharine, I'm so sorry you're having to go through this!

This is why we need a national healthcare system...

Anonymous said...

Here, here! What you said, Molly! It's so terrible that we are the only major "first-world" nation that doesn't provide universal health care.

All the best to you and your family, Katharine!

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