Monday, February 16, 2009

COBRA - Health Insurance and the risks

The danger of COBRA! it is "one strike and out.........."

My family is in trouble with no answer. As millions lose their jobs how many more will get caught in the COBRA trap?

How to start? My wife and I have three children; one has flown the nest and is at graduate school, the two boys are teenagers. During the 17 years we have lived in the United States I have worked for three U.S. corporations and as a result health insurance has never appeared to be a problem, not that I made many visits to the doctors. But at the start 2007 of founded a small business here in Charlotte. Of all the many things that need to be taken care of, finding office space, finding and installing a telephone system, buying and installing desks and computers, hired employees - Health Insurance didn't get much of a look in. But there is COBRA! so it doesn't matter! Least so I thought.

A year later it was time for me to find my own insurance, oh boy what a run around, I spent a month and got quotes from a number of leading National Health Insurance companies. It felt as if it was a huge bait and switch operation! Not one of the quotes came close to the initial grids I have been presented. At that time my wife and I were very healthy, my wife goes to the gym nearly every day and weighs the same 110 pounds she did when she was 20 year old. Oh well, I still had six months to run on my COBRA so I would come back to it, there was no way I could award the bad behavior I had experienced. It was very frustrating, just awful.

Four months later it was seven o'clock on a Monday morning and I was at my desk to get the week off to a fast start, but by eight I felt queasy and felt I would vomit so I took myself home – maybe I had food poisoning. For the remainder of the week I was unable to eat or drink and by Friday asked my wife to take me to the emergency room at our local hospital. At 2:00 AM I was finally admitted to hospital for observation. The following Wednesday I lost all my motor ability below the breast! I was fully paralyzed or at least a paraplegic. Three weeks later I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis a rare syndrome caused by inflammation in the spinal cord, I had been struck at the forth vertebra below the neck which left me with no movement below the breast but I had use of my arms. Wasn't much they can do for me apart from a heavy dose of steroids and to feed me intravenously?

I was released from hospital on the 12 June two weeks before my COBRA expired! After ten weeks in hospital going home was a relief and a worry. I was still a paraplegic and used a transfer board to move between the bed and my wheelchair. Gradually one toe and one kneecap at a time I slowly got some motor ability back. It is how almost a year later and I have made a wonderful partial recovery. I can walk up to 2 miles an hour but now suffer horrendous nerve pain.

Once I was able I looked at replacing my COBRA! Oh what a shock! I am now one of the great uninsured. In NC under the HIPPA rules Blue Cross Blue Shield must give me a quote, but at $3,880/ month just for me I cant afford that seeing I no longer can work. So I have no alternative but to have no insurance. After all those years paying into a system, when you need it, the system is not there for you.

1 comment:

carosteelmagnolia said...

Your post came up on my Google Alert for "TM." Your experiences with COBRA and other health insurance are scary. The health insurance issue was one main motivator for me to try to return to work after TM hit me 6 years ago. (T-10, still use a walker all the time) I was then, and still am, dubious about relying on only SS disability and Medicaid. I will be interested to learn if you have any success in that direction.

About 1 year into TM, I applied for some life insurance -- just to see how it would go. It didn't go-- as I suspected--despite the overconfidence of the eager young salesman. When I pressured the underwriter about WHY it was declined, it came down to that there was no evidence of what CAUSED the TM, so there MIGHT be an underlying problem which would be uninsurable.

Health care and insurance in this country are huge problems for anyone that needs either. Keep posting about how things go for you!

Good luck on this Fat Tuesday! The "good times" have been rolling here in Louisiana.