Why is Health Insurance So Difficult to Deal With?

by Kevin on August 12, 2013

Of all the types of insurance I have to buy health insurance by far is the one I loathe the most.

Car insurance? Awesome. Mostly easy to understand terms and conditions. I can get multiple quotes online, select my options, and buy the policy all without having to talk to a human being.

Life insurance? Even better. I’ll take term life insurance, thanks. I get price quotes online, I pick the annual premium I am comfortable with, you send a nurse out to take my blood, then you promise to pay my estate bookoos of money if I die during the term. Easy.

Homeowners insurance… you’re not my favorite, but at least I can get quotes online. I hate that one season of storms in my area — that didn’t touch my house — can drive up my prices. But that’s how it goes, and I really don’t want to have to be self-insured on my home, so… I put up with your ways.

But oh you, health insurance. With your mandates, required signatures, and dizzying array of things that are and are not covered… I hate you.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to have you. Thrilled, actually. I’m glad my wife and I both work for employers where decent health insurance is an option. I am absolutely aware that not everyone has this benefit, so I shouldn’t complain too much.

But seriously folks. It is 2013. Get. With. The. Program.

I can buy car insurance on my cell phone. My car insurance company has an app.

On the contrary it feels like my health insurance company (and the benefits department at every company, ever) — perhaps all health insurance companies — are stuck in the 1970s. Fax machines. Signatures in black not blue ink. Form. After form. After form. Followed up by phone calls to make sure a live human being saw that form come off the fax machine.

It shouldn’t be this difficult to add and confirm the addition of one newborn child to an insurance policy.

It baffles me. We’re on my wife’s insurance because my company’s plan is a high deductible health plan with an HSA.

That same insurance plan spent all year paying for maternity coverage for my wife. They even correctly accepted the billing from the hospital (and the 47,000 people who all bill separately for labor and delivery care) for, you know, that newborn entering the world.

You would think one could go to the pediatrician’s office two days after delivery and the insurance company could put two and two together.

Alas, that is not the case.

How to Add a Newborn to Your Insurance

First, you wait. You’re waiting on the state government (hardy har har!) to send you a birth certificate. Despite the fact that several people witnessed his birth live and in prime time, that process takes 10 to 15 days. Oh, and the one they send you isn’t even the real birth certificate.

Yes, you read that right.

It’s the “hospital copy” and the real thing takes a few more weeks. But apparently you can use the hospital copy to move forward in the process.

Then, hospital-copy-not-the-real-thing birth certificate in hand, you have to fill out a paper form and send it to your benefit’s office. And by send it, of course, I mean bring out the 1970s technology and fax that bad boy over.

Third, you call to make sure the form was actually received. Why? Because it would be crazy to call back and say, “Okay, we got it, we’ll add him to the policy.” You know, like that form might be super important to someone’s life. Especially since there is a 30 day time constraint and if they don’t get the form processed in that period of time you must wait for open enrollment and survive without health insurance for your child until then. Hooray!

So yes, you call.

Then, you continue waiting. You’ve gotten him added to the policy, but!, oh no, you’re not done yet. You have until 60 days after he is born to fully add him to the policy. What does that require? A Social Security card. When will you get that? Oh, 4 to 6 weeks after he is born.

Now, having 2 to 4 weeks to get a Social Security card in the mail, get a new form sent off to the benefits department, have the benefits department contact the insurance, and finally get him fully added might sound a long period of time.

But 2 to 4 weeks in the midst of sleep deprivation … lets just say you could easily miss that documentation in the mail, and the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

In the meantime your pediatrician’s office is going to send you a bill for the follow up visits you’ve already had. It’ll include a cute note about “Hey, we know you are waiting to add him to your insurance, but we have to send you this anyways just to freak you out real good. And as a reminder to get him added to your insurance. Because we like getting paid.”

So that’s where we’re at. A Social Security card should come sometime in the next… millenia. Until then our son is only halfway officially insured.


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