my biggest fear after getting my lymphoma diagnosis was losing the health insurance.  well, it happened. my husband lost his job.

cobra, we realized, was just way too expensive, even to just cover me. unemployment doesn't really cover the basics, food/mortgage/utilities for us. We were going through our savings just to get through the month.

long story short, it has been seven very long months. thanks to President Obama and his Affordable Care Act, i'm now approved for real health insurance, the preexisting plan through the affordable care act. it will begin october 1st.  

i'm not sure where i first found out about the pre existing health insurance plan but it's likely from lurking on this site. i know that i found the actual site via the Google.

here in california, we can go here.

by far the biggest hurdle for me was to be completely without health insurance for six months before i could apply. actually, this felt like gambling.  this is asking a lot of someone living with cancer, understatement. luckily, i had only a few minor problems along the way.

there were nights where i couldn't sleep because i was so worried: do i forego treatment, will i end up bankrupting the family. i'm lucky in that i'm still early stage.  i decided to forego the treatment because it was so expensive. 1500 for the jar of nitrogen mustard without insurance. i went without for a few months, started having symptoms so i asked the pharmacy for a smaller jar. that was only 600 dollars, just to put on the obvious spots.  then i developed a succession of fast growing bumps. i broke down and saw the oncologist, paid cash, and they did give me a cash discount.

turns out it is likely a second lymphoma (lymphomatoid papulosis)  but hard to say until there is a biopsy. this i did not do because the diagnostic/lab fees are pricey. we couldn't afford it. lucky that i could get away with it.  the oncologist, however, said it was very likely the kind that doesn't require treatment and is on the benign end of the spectrum.  the bumps did go away, leaving scars.

needless to say, i applied for health insurance the first day i could, the day after six months of no health insurance.  

one of the necessary things is to verify i have a preexisting condition.  there are two ways to do this.

one way is to get a rejection letter from a health insurance plan.

folks, i tried this and got very frustrated.  the first insurance company i called said it would take four weeks to get the letter and i would have to go through their entire application process in order to get rejected.  funny, i thought they wouldn't want me on their insurance plan, and they still want me to go through their invasive process. the second insurance company said the same. so  know that this requires time if you want to go this route.

there is a second way, and it was much easier. i don't know if this is just for california. if it is, thank you, governor brown.

all you need is to download a form  (caution: pdf file) to have your physician complete and sign to verify your preexisting condition.

there is one problem: if your physician does not fill in all the spaces correctly, then your application will be held up.  for instance, there certain spaces that say 'required' and some spaces that don't. please make sure your physician fills in all the spaces because if your physician leaves it blank, your application will be put on hold.

other details: the coverage begins on the first of the month. your application must be complete and approved by the tenth of the prior month so all the paperwork must be in by that time.

as for affordability, it is much reasonable than cobra. we can afford this insurance. there is another state plan called mrmip. it was a bit less pricier than cobra, we could get it right away but pre-existing things are not covered the first three months. and there's a spending cap. we really could not afford mrmip premiums.

i have spent a lot of time on the phone to make sure my paperwork was completed correctly because it wasn't, and the letter i got was confusing. everyone is very pleasant but i am lucky i have the time to do this.

i also spent a lot of time trying to verify whether my current chemotherapy regimen, which i hve been paying for cash, would be covered, and it is.

i found out ALL of my providerstake this insurance. funny, because while the husband's insurance was very good, it did not take nearly as many providers..

so here in my little corner of california, at the risk of this post being labelled spam on this site,  i want to say i am genuinely thrilled and grateful with the Affordable Care Act, and i thank President Obama for this.  i can now get my biopsies if i want. i won't have to fork out $600 each time to pay for my topical chemotherapy (long story, maybe i'll get into it another post but this is a different sort of chemo treatment than for other cancers).

i also found out that very few people are enrolledin this program. i don't know why.

i have about a week until the insurance kicks in but i don't expect any problems. fingers crossed.


for californians

Originally posted to casa de shari on Sat Sep 24, 2011 at 01:01 PM PDT.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos.

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