I have received a medical bill of $1700. I am unemployed, and my unemployment payments run out this month. How am I supposed to pay this?
I contended before the HIR bill's passage, as I still contend, that if those like me are still left with crushing medical bills, in any great numbers, this will damage the Democratic Party more than simply letting the bill die would have done.
The websites for Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-cal, and Healthy Families say that as a single man without kids, and not being elderly, I am ineligible for these programs. One responder on DKos said that single people without kids WOULD now be covered by Medicaid, but that website still reflects no such thing. How, exactly, am I to get help paying this bill? I can't pay it.
When I opposed the HIR bill, I heard that I "didn't care about the uninsured!" and was "spoiled" and a "crying baby!" and was a "purity troll!" over, and over, and over. I replied that I AM one of the 30 million uninsured, thanks--though that was ALWAYS ignored in the hysteria--and I was HR'd for dissenting about the bill.
One respondent on DKos kindly informed me of the benefits of the bill, instead of telling me how I'm supposed to pay this $1700 bill. He posted:
KEY PROVISIONS THAT TAKE EFFECT IMMEDIATELY UNDER PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, AS AMENDED BY THE HEALTH CARE AND EDUCATION RECONCILIATION ACT
FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
SMALL BUSINESS TAX CREDITS—Offers tax credits of up to 35 percent of employer premium contributions for those small businesses that choose to over coverage. Effective beginning for calendar year 2010. (Beginning in 2014, offers credits of up to 50 percent of employer premium contributions, for up to 2 years.)
BEGINS TO CLOSE THE MEDICARE PART D DONUT HOLE—Provides a $250 rebate to those Medicare beneficiaries who hit the donut hole in 2010. Beginning in January 2011, there is a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the donut hole. (Also completely closes the donut hole by 2020.)
FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER MEDICARE—Eliminates co‐payments for preventive services and exempts preventive services from deductibles under the Medicare program. Effective on January 1, 2011.
HELP FOR EARLY RETIREES—Creates a temporary re‐insurance program (until the Exchanges are available) for employer health plans providing coverage for early retirees, helping to protect coverage while reducing premiums for employers and these early retirees age 55-64. Effective on June 21, 2010.
FOR THOSE PRIVATELY INSURED
NO DISCRIMINATON AGAINST CHILDREN WITH PRE‐EXISTING CONDITIONS—Prohibits all employer plans and new plans in the individual market from denying coverage to children with pre‐existing conditions. Effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
NO RESCISSIONS—Bans all health plans from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
NO LIFETIME LIMITS ON COVERAGE—Prohibits all health plans from placing lifetime caps on coverage. Effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
TIGHTLY REGULATES ANNUAL LIMITS ON COVERAGE—Tightly restricts the use of annual limits by all employer plans and new plans in the individual market, to ensure access to needed care. Effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
FREE PREVENTIVE CARE UNDER NEW PLANS—Requires new private plans to cover preventive services with no co‐payments and with preventive services being exempt from deductibles. Effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
NEW, INDEPENDENT APPEALS PROCESS FOR NEW PLANS—Ensures consumers in new plans have access to an effective internal and external appeals process to appeal decisions. Effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
MORE FOR YOUR PREMIUM DOLLAR—Requires all health plans to put more of your premiums into your care, and less into profits, CEO pay, etc. This medical loss ratio requires plans in the individual market to spend 80 percent of premiums on medical services, and plans in the large group market to spend 85 percent. Insurers that don’t meet these thresholds must provide rebates to policyholders. Effective on January 1, 2011.
NO DISCRIMINATION BASED ON SALARY—Prohibits new employer health plans from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that have the effect of discriminating in favor of higher wage employees. Effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
FOR THOSE UNINSURED
IMMEDIATE HELP FOR THE UNINSURED WITH PRE‐EXISTING CONDITIONS (INTERIM HIGH‐RISK POOL)—Provides immediate access to insurance for Americans who are uninsured because of a pre‐existing condition ‐ through a temporary high‐risk pool – until the Exchanges are up and running in 2014. Effective on July 1, 2010.
EXTENDING COVERAGE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE UP TO 26TH BIRTHDAY THROUGH PARENTS’ INSURANCE – Requires plans to allow young people up to their 26th birthday to remain on their parents’ insurance policy, at the parents’ choice. Effective for plan years beginning on or after September 23, 2010.
COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS—Increases funding for Community Health Centers to allow for nearly doubling the number of patients served over the next 5 years. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2011.
MORE PRIMARY CARE PRACTITIONERS—Provides new investments to increase the number of primary care practitioners, including doctors and nurses. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2011.
HEALTH INSURANCE CONSUMER ASSISTANCE—Provides aid to states to establish offices of health insurance consumer assistance to help consumers file complaints and appeals. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.
CREATES NEW, VOLUNTARY, PUBLIC LONG‐TERM CARE INSURANCE PROGRAM—Creates a long‐term care insurance program to be financed by voluntary payroll deductions to provide benefits to adults who become functionally disabled. Effective on January 1, 2011.
HOLDS INSURANCE COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE FOR UNREASONABLE RATE HIKES—Creates a grant program to support states in requiring health insurance companies to submit justification for requested premium increases. Effective beginning in fiscal year 2010.
MORE REFORMS THAT BEGIN IN 2014 (WHEN EXCHANGES HAVE FORMED)
NO DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ADULTS WITH PRE‐EXISTING CONDITIONS BAN ON HIGHER PREMIUMS FOR WOMEN PREMIUMS BASED ON AGE CAN ONLY VARY BY A MAXIMUM OF 3‐TO‐1 RATIO CAP ON OUT‐OF‐POCKET EXPENSES for private health plans
That's all very nice. However, I still have a bill in front of me. It didn't go away. How am I to pay it? How am I to access the help that the poster talked about? If you had a bill in front of you, what would you do to get it paid? Practical steps, please, point me to a website form to fill out, a paper form to fax, an office in which I can wait, that will pay that $1700 for me, because I don't have it.
Nor will I have any money with which to pay for insurance premiums, even if they're subsidized for the poor. What, exactly, am I supposed to do? Pretend I'm stupid. Maybe I am stupid.
A constant meme from the bill boosters was the sad, sighing plaint, "but you HAVE been told; you simply don't want to see..." This was nonsense then, and it's nonsense now.
I have NOT been told, "so you've got a $1700 bill from the doctor's! Wow. Looks tough! But Here's What You Do to Get the Government to Help you Pay It!" One respondent DID have some suggestions, but--the suggestions were to work out a payment plan so that I could pay the whole $1700, $5 at a time! Or to dispute the bill entirely! Wait a second. Wasn't the pretext for the bill's passage that the 30 million uninsured--again, that's me, I am one of the 30 million uninsured--would not be stuck with ruinous bills to pay, any longer? That the government would be right there helping people pay for such bills, so they wouldn't have to shoulder it on their own? And that this would happen soon enough so that it wouldn't look bad for us in this year's elections?
Because if the answer is, "no, there's no way that $1700 bill is getting paid by the government, not before 2014 or months and months from now or whenever," then is it, or is it not, true that I was correct in saying that this could damage us politically for November's elections?
As mentioned above, Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-cal, and Healthy Families are not offering this help; nor are any of the White House's or other government entities' websites that I've consulted. Am I stupid? Do I read poorly? Well that may well be--show me how, please, exactly, and tell me what a stupid, unemployed person like me has to do, when he gets a $1700 medical bill that he can't pay, in order to get it paid. There are FAR more than just one stupid, unemployed guy with no kids and a big medical bill out there, and unfortunately, many of them WILL vote in November. Will you sigh at them that "sigh, you just don't want to see the truth..." and let them suffer and default on THEIR $1700 medical bills, too? Or will you say "oh, it's simple--all you do to get it paid, even if you have no kids and aren't elderly, is X."
Won't you please deign to tell me what Action X is?
You all told me Pass.the.damn.bill. OK, the bill passed. Now if you please, could you tell me? How, EXACTLY, by taking what SPECIFIC ACTIONS, do I Pay.the.Damn.Bill?
NOTE: I will be off of the internet for a few days, so after a few hours from now, I won't be able to answer. But thank you for any answers you have to offer. And please forgive the sardonic tone of the diary; I know that many bill supporters are thoughtful, and may want to help. I have, however, felt severely tried by the high-handed tone of condescension in the "you just don't want to hear the truth" stuff, the vicious attacks saying that I "don't give a s*** about the 30 million uninsured!" when I AM one of them, and other rankling responses. I am also in a slightly sour frame of mind at the moment, because of this situation, but I hope it doesn't seem as if I'm being unfair. I ask your forgiveness, if so.