Well, color me pink or something like that. I just got a phone call from a Blue Shield of California representative because somebody apparently monitors the blogosphere, came across my blog posting, and wanted to make sure my questions were thoroughly answered. I even got a phone number that I can call if I have further questions.
That was totally unexpected and, well, I guess it did what it’s supposed to do. Makes me feel a little more loved and warm and tingly or something. So. Good customer service but…I still think everything I thought in the last posting. It doesn’t change anything about the power imbalance, the fact that the system is rigged, or anything else.
But I know health insurance is necessary the way the medical system operates these days. I posted my earlier comment on Facebook and got a number of comments from disgruntled people. A parent told me how it took 15 months to get Cigna to cover a new wheelchair for his severely disabled son. A mother told me how much her daughter owes the hospital ($15,000) for a minor thing–a gallstone–and that’s after the health insurance paid their part. Another person said that he had cancer and one test alone, a diagnostic test using dye, cost $115,000. He cautioned me not to go off health insurance. But, he added, many Americans are stuck in low-paying jobs simply because they’re afraid to lose their health insurance benefits. I know how true that is. For a long time, I wondered if I could leave grad school at Stanford–simply because of the health insurance. And then I realized there was no point in being miserable simply because I had good health insurance.
Anyway, regardless, before the phone call, I did decide to stick it out with Blue Shield. I cancelled the application with Mega Life last Friday, and over the weekend, talked with at least three self-employed people who have all felt reasonably satisfied with Blue Shield (or one of its variations, such as my parents, in Texas). My parents were able to compare their Blue Cross/Blue Shield coverage with coverage they’ve had from just about every other plan out there, and my dad’s take on it was essentially, “Yeah, the premiums are a little higher but it’s a better policy than most of the others. They haven’t raised the premiums on us the way otherl companies have.” My dad gets frustrated with policies that start out low and, within three years, have doubled or tripled the monthly premiums you have to pay.
The cautionary satisfaction with Blue Shield is about as good as it gets. So I’m sticking with it and hoping that, when or if the time comes, they end up coming through for us. But I’m not forgetting the point my little brother made yesterday when we talked about it: “Health insurance companies are out to make money. That profit motive is incompatible with paying for your medical costs.”