Saturday, September 1, 2007

Arizona's State Health Care: The Good And The Bad

Me and the state of Arizona have been duking it out over health insurance since last May when dh lost his job back then. The program, AHCCCS, is a really great program once you can jump through the hoops to get in... but getting through all the bureaucracy is a mess. Today, I thought my woes with getting into their system would be over... but no such luck. I have to call them on Tuesday and yell at them (not literally, but figuratively).

We are previous customers of the Arizona state health care system. They know who we are, we have insurance cards, etc. I do want them to verify who everyone is and if they are eligible. Last year we had to show them our passports to verify that we are US citizens. Great! Since this program is tax-subsidized, I don't want to have to pay for non-citizens to get in this system.

The problems started in January when dh started working for the state. They have a good health insurance program, so we went with their program, as I'd rather not use the state's program if I don't have to. I suppose since he was working for the state, the health insurance money came from the same source, but I guess that doesn't matter. Even though that was what we were supposed to do, it turned out to be a big mistake.

When dh lost his job, I immediately went to the office to reapply for health insurance. They told us that my son still had health insurance and was never dropped from coverage (since he is an infant under 1 year old, he had no premiums).

Later on that month, I took my baby to the doctor, using our health insurance card that supposedly he had. The doctor told us that he didn't have any coverage... so I used my other health insurance card from dh's job that was supposed to have been expired. Funny how the expired health insurance card worked, and the "active" health insurance card did not.

My dh got a new job about a week later, and about a month after that, we were told that they would deny us for health insurance if we didn't apply for unemployment and food stamps as well. What one has to do with another I don't know. So we were denied and we had to reapply.

Another month passes... around early August we find out that finally we were approved for health insurance. Everyone except for my son... who was supposed to be covered all along but now is still stuck with no insurance. So I call the office to find out what was going on.

Me: I'd like to find out why my infant son wasn't approved for coverage.
AHCCCS: You'll have to talk to your eligibility specialist, Nicole. Here's her number... lemme transfer you.
[transfer goes to a number that doesn't exist. I try calling the number myself and nothing]
[I call back]
Me: I'd like to find out why my infant son wasn't approved for coverage.
AHCCCS: He wasn't approved for coverage because he already is approved for Medicaid.
Me: I've been to the doctor twice for him and they keep telling me that he doesn't have insurance.
AHCCCS: You'll have to talk to your eligibility specialist, Nicole.
Me: I already called her at xxx-xxx-xxxx. The number doesn't work.
AHCCCS: oh she has a new number. It's xxx-xxx-xxxx. Let me transer you.
[transfer doesn't work. I call the number back and nothing.]
[so I call back]
Me: I would like to find out why my son wasn't approved for health insurance. I already tried calling my eligibility specialist and she is not answering her phone.
AHCCCS: Let me transfer you to her supervisor then. His number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.
[transfer goes to an answering machine. I leave a message and nobody calls back.]

Tuesday afternoon
Me: I would like to find out why my son doesn't have coverage.
AHCCCS: Let me transfer you to your eligibility specialist, Nicole...
[of course the number doesn't work. Third call to them for the day is a little different...]
Me: I'd like to find out why my son wasn't approved for health insurance coverage. He doesn't have coverage with Medicaid even though he is supposed to. I've already tried calling my eligibility specialist but she never answers her phone. I've already tried contacting her supervisor but I get his answering machine and he doesn't call back.
AHCCCS: Let me look up your account and see if I could help... [pause] he was disapproved for coverage because he's eligible for Medicaid, but he doesn't have that either. Let me make a note in your account and flag it to say that he needs coverage.
Me: Thank you. I also have to change my income. Can you help me with that too?
AHCCCS: Oh, just fax your letter to xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Me: Thank you!

Nicole calls. I guess they were changing her phone system over. They're supposed to add coverage for my son and reflect my income changes.

We get a letter 4 days later saying that he has been added and our income change has been noted.

So my question is... if they already knew who we were, why did it take a month and a half to review our paperwork in the first place? Especially when they can add my son and change the income amount in less than a week?

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Our first day that we're supposedly eligible for coverage is today, September 1st. So I take my dd to urgent care to have her ears looked at since she's had an ear infection for well over a month now. We have been counting down the days until this day. We show up in the morning, wait around for an hour... and are told that our insurance card is not active.

Oh yes, I'm doing some (nice) yelling on Tuesday. This is ridiculous.

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