Obamacare Glitch Sticks Las Vegas Man with $407,000 Doctor Bill
A triple bypass heart surgery and $407,000 in doctor bills incurred in January and February has left a 62-year old Las Vegas man in one serious predicament, as the Nevada Obamacare exchange he signed up with is not recognizing him as an enrollee.
Larry Basich said he began trying to enroll in Obamacare on Oct. 1, but because he fought technical flaws during multiple sign-up attempts, it wasn’t until mid-November that he finally was accepted for his United Healthcare’s MyHPNSilver1. “It was like reaching the third level of Doom,” Basich said of the grueling enrollment process. Significantly, Larry paid his first premium on Nov. 21, and within days the exchange withdrew the $160.77 payment from his money-market savings account. Because Basich paid a month before the Dec. 23 deadline, it qualified him for coverage beginning Jan. 1.
Xerox, the contractor for the Nevada exchange, says Basich chose a plan from another insurer, Nevada Health CO-OP, even though Basich has paperwork that shows he selected MyHPNSilver1. In short, Xerox can’t seem to decide which plan Mr. Basich should be covered under.
Larry’s narrative is typical of the unreliability of the state-based health insurance exchanges, which some thought to be working better than their federal counterpart, Healthcare.gov. In February, the Nevada health exchange experienced a number of "website problems, long wait times at the call center, frustrated partners, frustrated consumers and low enrollment." Jon Hager, executive of the exchange, admitted, “It has been a difficult month.”
Meanwhile, four months have passed and Larry Basich’s problem is still not resolved. “Xerox is truly out of their league. They need to understand they are an administrator, they are not an insurance company,” Tamar Burch of Branch Benefits Consultants said. “They need to understand their boundaries. They don’t understand this world. Everybody is at the mercy of Xerox, and they are not doing this right.”
Jennifer Wasmer, a Xerox spokeswoman, said , “Mr. Basich’s issue is complex, and we’re working on it every day. We are in touch with Mr. Basich, his broker, the carriers, (Silver State Health Insurance Exchange) leadership, and the Division of Insurance to sort it out.”
Larry claims that the trials and tribulations trying to get enrolled with the exchange in December contributed to the stress that caused his heart attack in the first place. Moreover, he feels the stress ratcheting up even more now that doctor bills are not being paid and that his credit rating will potentially be negatively impacted. Larry points out he may not qualify for a new mortgage because of the related derogotories on his credit report.
Larry contacted Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who expressed that he wants to help him. So far he has not heard back from the Senator. Last month Senator Reid asserted that “all Obamacare horror stories are untrue,” effectively calling Mr. Basich a liar. As far as Larry is concerned, he will continue to pursue the endless correspondence until he achieves resolution and the nightmare is over. He lamented, “All I wanted to do when I moved here was buy a house, get a dog and go to some spring training games for the Dodgers.”