The poor design of healthcare.gov directly impacted my family. I hope it is all just minor, but the possibility for significant effects remains. Explanations follow.
This is a follow up diary promised in an earlier one in which problems with healthcare.gov were laid out in detail. This diary is a personal account of realized and potential impacts of the poor web site.
I considered addressing why a highly educated and experienced person needs government subsidized health insurance, but that is a micro and macroeconomic diary for another day. Most of the points have been covered in stories about the recession and reports about difficulties for older people like DarkSyde, myself, and others.
This story starts back in December, 2013, when the greenandblue family began applying for insurance through the ACA marketplace. At the time, we had no reason to think that there was any special need for insurance. A month or two probably wouldn't matter. Our healthcare.gov application was completed on time for insurance starting Jan 1, or so we thought (see part 1 for details), but we were willing to be patient for this new and highly used system.
I am willing to call responsibility for missing the deadline for insurance starting Jan. 1 a tossup between us and healthcare.gov. Missing the deadline for February 1 was entirely due to healthcare.gov and its contractor(s). Making the deadline for insurance starting March 1 was due to our diligence, in spite of healthcare.gov.
Since December, our son has had two issues. One was a pretty harsh flare up of eczema on his hands. He could barely move his fingers, and there was constant itching and pain from dried and cracked skin. We should have been more proactive, but he has had minor cases many times, and never lost use of his hands. The other thing was pain in his lower abdomen that started in recent months and has persisted.
We ended up taking him to a doctor in early February. If healthcare.gov was working correctly, then we would have had insurance. Fortunately, the kind doctor gave us a discount and provided nonprescription remedies. The stomach pain may be lactose intolerance. We cut out his milk, and it seems to be helping. If the pain flares up, we might cut out all dairy. Beyond that, we would need further diagnostics. For the eczema, we initially tried natural oil, primarily castor, and gloves. The oil bothered him too much, so we switched to over the counter hydrocortisone cream, and wrapped the worse hand in bandages for about a week. His hands are now healing. The cold winter may have been a contributing factor, so spring will be welcome, but the eczema might be an issue he has to be aware of for the rest of his life.
Now for Mrs. greenandblue. She sometimes gets dizzy and has blacked out about every 1-2 years. She checked with a doctor years ago, with no high confidence diagnosis produced. It could be anemia, blood sugar, or some other issue with potential dietary solutions. Or it could be worse.
Then, in late January or early February, Mrs. greenandblue experienced discomfort around her right shoulder and noticed that the bone on that side seems to be bigger than the one on the other side. Plus it hurt to press on the area.
It could be something benign, like a cyst, whatever that is, or it could be something worse, like lymphoma or another type of tumor that impedes nerve signals or blood flow, which can explain the dizziness episodes.
Our need for medical attention suddenly increased in urgency. After debating for a week, we paid out of pocket for a doctor visit. The doctor recommended a CT scan to be scheduled as soon as possible, preferably the next day. We put it off until March due to a lack of funds and no health insurance until then.
The CT scan was performed on March 3. I was going to wait for the results to post this dairy, but it will be another several days for the doctor to report the results to us. I wanted to post this part of our insurance story sooner than that. I will follow up with CT scan results if there is interest here.
In short, there was a delay of 3+ weeks in healthcare for Mrs. greenandblue. The delay in insurance to cover this treatment is largely due to problems with healthcare.gov. If her issue is serious and spreading, it will be a costly delay in treatment. Hopefully, it will not be serious and her treatment will not be impacted.
Before closing, the ACA must be credited. Without it, we could not have gotten any decent insurance, and we would likely have been dropped as soon as we used it for the CT scan. I would have also been very hesitant to write this diary for fear of the insurance company. Now, I have some comfort in knowing that we can get healthcare we deserve, and can talk about it in public too.