Adventures in medical insurance enrollment

When I put in my notice at the last job, I assumed my insurance would carry through to the end of the month. I had an MRI scheduled for my last day (a Friday), and the related oncologist appointment for the following Tuesday. In my exit interview at 1 pm on that Friday, I was informed that my insurance got cut off at midnight. I hadn’t read the documentation I was sent two days earlier closely enough.

So I scrambled to apply for insurance that day, rather than do it the following Monday as I’d planned. Got on WAHealthPlanFinder, put in my info, including that my last day of coverage was 3/24. Picked a plan. Got confirmation that night that I was approved and that I should call the insurance company (Regence) or go to their web site to pay. Start date 4/1.

Called the oncologist on Monday and delayed my appointment for a week. Called Regence to find out how to pay. They had no record of me. CSR said it took a couple of days to get in the system. That’s fine. I expect these things.

I get “secure email” from Regence on 4/3 saying they need a letter from my employer before they can approve my insurance, deadline 4/10. I submit it online the same day. Within the hour. On 4/5, having heard nothing, I emailed Regence asking what’s up. I get a non-committal response. There’ll be a new deadline if that doesn’t suffice.

On 4/10, having heard nothing I call my oncologist and delay the appointment until May.

On 4/11, I get a request for a document from my previous insurance, deadline for submission 4/25. Letter from the employer wasn’t good enough. Note that this is the day after the previous deadline. I immediately call Cigna, the previous insurance. The document from them arrives on 4/17, and I submit it online that day.

On 4/26 (the day after the deadline), having not heard from them and starting to worry, I call the underwriting department. They say they’ve approved it and I need to call the exchange to arrange payment. Payment goes through Regence anyway. So I call the exchange, they have no record of the approval and as far as they are concerned, it was approved on 3/25. I need to talk to Regence. So I call Regence again, the regular line this time thinking it’s out of underwriting’s hands. But the CSR just transfers me to underwriting. This time the underwriting person tells me the application was approved this morning at 10:36, but that there’s nothing they can do on their end to speed of processing any more. Later in the call, she tells me because it’s an exchange based policy, it will take 4 days to get the paperwork transmitted back to the exchange, rather than the normal two. This means that the earliest I would actually have insurance is the last day of the fucking month, but I’d have to pay for the entire month. But even that’s unlikely because after the exchange gets it the information has to be put back into Regence’ system for payment and then to send me my insurance card. So I won’t be insured until May at least, but I’ll have to pay for April.

And no guarantee that all this paperwork will be processed before my appointment.

So, frustrated, I file a complaint with the Washington Insurance Commissioner, explaining all this. Total delay that I’m responsible for is a few hours. Total delay due to Cigna is 6 days. Total delay due to Regence (and possibly some due to the Washington insurance exchange) is 27 days. So far. I request:

  • A refund of any premiums I have to pay for April.
  • That Regence word its document requests so that everything can be submitted in one shot, with requirements understandable to people who aren’t insurance terminology geeks.
  • That Regence staff its underwriting department sufficient that paperwork processing happens in a timely fashion rather than the day after deadlines.
  • A pony

I tweet the previous bit out too, tagging the Regence Twitter handle. That person wants my info and I’m reluctant to give it, having been on the phone for an hour today already. However, about an hour later she’s on the line with me and with the exchange at the same time, and the exchange is putting in a ticket to change my start date to 5/1. With the Regence person on the line, she doesn’t think there will be any problem approving it. It would have required me putting a request in to Regence and paperwork being sent back and forth without that. I also recorded all this portion. Thank you Google Voice! It’ll probably mean I get one set of insurance cards for a start date of 4/1, and a second set with a start date of 5/1.

I’d rather have gotten the insurance processed in a timely fashion, and my oncologist appointment not delayed for a month. But it’s better than nothing. And I still want them to rewrite their requests and staff the hell up. I doubt the insurance commissioner will order that however. Still, I hope Regence has to at least spend some cycles on responding to those parts of the request.

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