A friend who is older, but not quite old enough for Medicare, is on Obamacare through the Mass Health Connector site. It took about 20 phone calls to get her established and it was supposed to be free, but lately they have decided that she needs to pay $5 per month. So every month they mail her a hardcopy bill and every month they want to receive a hardcopy check.
I am on Obamacare too, though without a subsidy. The web site didn’t make it at all clear that I would have to pay for the first $2,000 of my medical care. One would think that after more than $1 billion in IT spending (the Massachusetts site is built by the same contractor as the federal site) the comparison shopping tool would have shown total likely payments under the various plans, but it did not. I went to see the doctor a few weeks ago. There was no way for the front desk workers to find out that I had to pay out of pocket due to the deductible and collect the money at the time of the visit. They, or their billing service, submitted a $250 bill to Harvard Pilgrim. Harvard Pilgrim then knocked this down to $188 for undisclosed reasons, but paid the doctor nothing due to the deductible. I was informed of this via a hardcopy letter sent in the U.S. mail. Now the doctor will have to chase after me for $188 via hardcopy bills sent in U.S. mail.
Speaking of U.S. mail, I have the insurance set up on autopay from the government’s site. Despite this, every month I am sent a hardcopy bill via U.S. mail that says “do not pay.”
We went to the hospital recently with our 10-day-old baby. His color is now perfect so he shouldn’t need a bilirubin test but the protocol calls for one anyway due to the fact that the earlier results were not ideal. After a 30-minute wait he was tortured with a heel stick. Then the nurse managed to get a drop of his blood in her eye while doing the test. Now she will be tested for HIV every year for 10 years, despite the fact that the mother was tested for HIV prior to the child’s birth and would, if asked, agree to have another HIV test. After the blood incident the staff at the hospital wanted to have a doctor talk to us for permission to look up the mother’s medical records (the baby was born at the same hospital). But no doctor was available and we had to leave to get to the pediatrician for a scheduled checkup. On the way out they were looking at various screens from the IT system and also some printouts saying “But we need to know your name and phone number.” There was confusion as to the baby’s name and the mother’s name that took a while to sort out.
Mother’s summary: “We can’t have another child. I can’t handle another touchpoint with the American medical system.”