Monday, February 16, 2009

Health Insurance

We found this on a shelf at Walmart while we are back in the States for Christmas. How cool is that!
Insurance: (promise of reimbursement in the case of loss; paid to people or companies so concerned about hazards that they have made prepayments to an insurance company)
That is the definition of insurance. The point that U.S. health insurance companies have forgotten the "promise of reimbursement in the case of loss." I've been very lucky. My husband's company offers insurance at a good rate to it's employees. I'm very thankful to have health insurance coverage when so many Americans are living without it.
The reason for this post is I've had some minor problems with our insurance company. We had always had Blue Cross Blue Shield back in the States and I personally had never had a problem with them. I took it for granted that we would pay our portion, the insurance company their portion.
With our move to South Korea, the company switched us to CIGNA. The first year with them was fine even with the bills occurring in South Korea. Last fall, I went in to a local Korean doctor for my annual flu shot. I submitted the bill 10,000 WON ($10 US). I received a letter from CIGNA that they had rejected the claim even though they had paid for it the previous year. CIGNA has told us that they pay 100% of preventative care. I guess a flu shot is no longer considered preventative care.
The second incident occurred while we were back in the States for our annual visit. I had a physical with my doctor since I'm living in Korea. I had been feeling really fatigued and achy since summer so I brought that up with him. He ordered a full blood workup including a Vitamin D test. The test came back that my test number was 6 when a normal range was 50-70. My doctor was very concerned and called in a script for Vitamin D pills, 50,000I.U., one pill a day.
When I went to the pharmacy to pick up the pills, they informed me that my insurance refused to pay. It was around $50.00 so I paid. Apparently, you can buy Vitamin over the counter and that's why it was denied. At the level I need, I would need to consume either 50 1000 I.U. pill or 25 2000 I.U. everyday. I don't know if I could even keep that many pills down. I was fuming and I was only able to find 5 bottles to take back with me to Korea.
I wrote a letter to CIGNA, copying my husband's company and I'm waiting for an answer. But the whole health care problem in the States has been bothering me for a long time. I don't have any feelings one way or the other for Michael Moore but his film "Sicko" made me sick. I live in supposedly the greatest and most powerful country in the world and yet everyday Americans are getting ill and dying from lack of health care even those who have health insurance.
While I'm at it, when did this "pre-existing conditions" come back into policies. I thought that was banned back in the 80's. As most of us age, you are lucky if you wouldn't have a pre-existing condition but many Americans have something that would fall under this category. I have family members where the company switched health insurances and now they have no coverage for what falls under the black hole called "pre-existing." It needs to be abolished once and for all.
And whenever I hear the word "bailout" I want to shout it from the top of lungs, "HOW ABOUT A HEALTH CARE BAILOUT!" I would gladly pay more in taxes to insure that everyone have affordable health care. Why can't we seem to do it when other countries do? 119 (911 in the US) is a FREE service here in Korea. My Korean friends are shocked that ours is not.
I've also recently heard from several sources here in Korea that if you, God forbid, have something catastrophic happen to you like a serious car accident or heart attack that your U.S. insurance won't cover it. I don't even want to think about that and I pray to God I never have to find out.
These are just my feelings. RANT OFF.


autumnal scent said...

This reminds me of the time when my mom was in the car by herself and had suddenly encountered difficulty breathing. Thank goodness she was in front of a school where there were adults around to notice and call an ambulance. After being stabilized, she wouldn't tell the paramedics her name or where she lived because she didn't want to have to pay any exorbitant fees... My immigrant mother has always been extra wary and extra careful when out... But, still, I don't blame her... It's difficult to wrap my head around having to worry about ability to pay when attention should be wholly focused on getting better. The president *knows* how broken the system is. No one needs to tell him. Just listen to his story about his mother having to struggle with the insurance company while also fighting for her life in a hospital. It's criminal.

Random aside. Last time I was in Korea, I thought it'd be the *worst* place to call for ambulances... No one was letting the ambulance by, though I don't know if it were possible for the cars to pull over, and also the streets were way to congested as they perpetually are...

Becky said...

I'm so sorry to hear what happened to your mother. I keep hoping change is coming.

You are right about Korean ambulances. NO ONE pulls over for them and they are not manned by paramedics. It's strictly a delivery service. Luckily, there are hospitals every few blocks it seems.

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