Rant On

Dear Medical Insurance Company,









Oh, that felt good.

I’m sorry.

I usually never say the H word.

The only time I say ever say the H word is when referring to head lice or olives or Phil Collins.

God, I hate Phil Collins.

But, I gotta tell you that man-oh-man, you medical insurance companies sure can suck sometimes.

And yes, I know, the whole screwed-up system of healthcare coverage and delivery sucks, and in some respect you all are just helpless cogs in the big, fat, mess of a healthcare machine. But right now, I’m focusing my red, hot blog-o-beam in your direction. Because you suck. And I h…ha...h……

I don’t like you right now.

At. All.

Okay. I’m done.

Now I’ll attempt to be more polite. Or at least poetic.

Here’s the thing:

We’re not poor folk here at Chateau Halushki. We have a roof over our heads and a car in the drive and the kids don’t need to repair the worn-out soles of their Payless shoes with cuttings from spare tires. However, we ain’t rich, neither. A dinner out once a month is a real treat. We have to splurge to buy the good parmesan cheese. We purchase most of our shoes at Payless. Off season. Mostly during the BOGO sales.

I don’t even bother to clip coupons because generic is so much cheaper, if that gives you any idea.

Anyway…without going into too much detail about my husband’s job (Which he loves! Hello Mr. Boss!) and pulling a dooce for him, let’s just say that circumstance arranged itself in such a way as to place the burden - or rather challenge, let’s be positive here - place the challenge of finding and maintaining health insurance squarely in my lap.

Now. I don’t know whether you’ve ever had to pay for your own health insurance, but let me tell you, the experience is eye-opening. Not to mention wallet-draining. And as if that’s not enough, go ahead and try to add on your two - no wait! - THREE kids.

Oh! Oh!

Better yet?

Try to find private health insurance in Pennsylvania when - as happened with me about a year and a half ago - you've just found out a few days after your husband accepted a new job offer that you’re eight weeks pregnant!


Think twice.

Try impossible.

The fact is that if you are pregnant and without health insurance - or between health insurance - in the state of Pennsylvania, and you then try to purchase private insurance, you are basically uninsurable. No matter that you’ve had continuous coverage for the past 39 years, 2 months, and 15 days. No matter that you’re going to be paying-in to the insurance for the next 8 months until you have this baby.



Just another too-freaking-bad day in paradise.

Now, if you are being covered under an employer's insurance plan as opposed to buying private health insurance, well that's a different story. But that wasn’t my story. My story involved having to continue my old insurance through COBRA - an acronym which stands for Cheap? Oh BAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA! Really…Asswipe - and opening a vein each month while being financially reduced to living on more rice than I’d care to remember.

So then, after 8 months of rice and eyeing-up the spare tires for their fashion potential (just in case), I finally had the baby extracted through a “bikini cut” that - let’s be honest again: will never, ever see any bikini slung that low across my pubic bone - and after I delivered a sweet, perfect baby (and between Percocets), the fleeting thought crossed my mind that the little bugger was, indeed, worth every COBRA payment and so much more and all was right with the world and I had a new baby and in another month, new and much cheaper health insurance, and it would be nothing but steak and lobster from here on out.

Imagine for a moment, Dear Medical Insurance Company, that you are me, happily spending a few days in the hospital and then trundling home with your sweet baby and a bottle of Percocet, just waiting for the happy times of plenty to abound while hallucinating tiny steaks dancing with lobsters.

Except a week later, you get a phone call. One of those phone calls where even the ring is portentous. You're puttering around the kitchen, grabbing counters as you go because it feels as if your uterus is going to slide out of your bikini cut, and the phone rings - a ring that echoes cold and deep through every corner of the house, down through the very foundation...the call of destiny. Out of the blue, it’s the pediatrician on the phone. Just like that, the pediatrician calling you in the middle of the day. Hmm. Just a month ago, you were begging the pediatrician to call because you had a silly-willy bat flying around in your house and were potentially all dying of rabies, but you still had to wait on hold to talk to the message service and then wait even longer for a callback from a nurse, all while the rabies virus was potentially making a beeline - or a bat line - for your brain. And now...Presto! Like Houdini from the grave. A pediatrician calls....

Hello, Ms. Pediatrician! What brings you to dial my seven digits on this fine and glorious afternoon?

What’s that? Something about the baby's newborn screening results?

Bio...bio-what now?

Biotinidase deficiency

Uhm-hmm…okay…spell that please? And you say it’s a rare metabolic disease - oh, disorder - a disorder that only 1 in 60,000 people inherit?



Goody goody…goody?


That fateful day.

It seems so long ago now.

I knew nothing about biotinidase or rare metabolic disorders. I was kicking myself for never really studying just what the X’s and Y’s meant and which two kids were carriers and which kid was affected and which kid got off scot free with nary a recessive gene mutation. I had no clue what a biotin capsule cost over the pharmacy counter versus acquiring said B-vitamin in some seedy, back alley stable from a shifty groom dealing out scoops of white powder from a bucket of Hoof Guard.

But you knew, Dear Medical Insurance Company.

You knew what it all meant.

Rare. Metabolic. Disorder.

What that meant was kiss the dancing steaks good-bye.

What that meant was “Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhh, sure….we’ll give your kid health coverage. Here, lady. Here’s a nice, warm policy hot off the press. All the coverage your bundle of joy could ever need for just $108 a month.

Oh…hold up!

Did we say $108 a month?

Nooooooooooooo no no no no no no no no…

No…what we actually meant was $108 for the first six months. Then, we’re going to raise the insurance. We’re going to raise the insurance because your kid is an infant, and infants are such a pain in the ass what with their immunization schedule and well-baby visits and tell you what: even if you promise to pay all the immunizations yourself and pay a higher co-pay; even if you send scads of convincing letters from geneticists and other guys with a bunch of M.D.'s and Ph.D.'s after their names all saying that your kid’s specific rare metabolic deficiency is essentially benign and completely, 100% treatable with one $7.00 bottle of biotin per month; even if you promise, cross-your-heart, to never allow your kids to chase squirrels anymore or wrestle with coyotes…

We just don‘t care.

We don’t care, because you have an infant with a Rare Metabolic Disorder and we’re going to raise his monthly premium to $349. That’s just him.

That raises your total monthly premium to $855.

Just because.

Just because we can.

And whaddaya gonna do about it, huh?

Oh…oh what? Threaten to leave?

Oh no!


Mme. Halushki is going to take her $855 a month a leave!

Quick! Tell the CEO he has to buy a Hyundai!





I don’t like you, Medical Insurance Company.

I know you are around when times get tough and the hospitals swoop in with numbers that look like a zero machine gone haywire.

I understand that overweight men who smoke unfiltered Camels while rubbing themselves in lard are risky business when it comes to potential payouts.

But a healthy pregnant woman?

Even an old broad who eventually had to have a C-section? She’s uninsurable?

And a healthy infant whose little metabolic thingy turned out to be not much of a thingy after all, even though he had to make one visit to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia to see the head metabolics honcho who hails from Turkey and has a last name that sounds as if you’re saying the word “Jell-O” ten times fast, except backwards and with a mouthful of Jell-O?

I have to pay $345 a month (not that I even can, mind you) for a child whose postential worst symptom - if any - from the partial biotinidase deficiency might be an occasional rash or a passing bald spot?

Good gravy, people have more severe reactions from listening to Phil Collins.

I bet their premium doesn’t jump 300% every time some DJ plays Another Day In Paradise.

And now you got me talking about Phil Collins.

Well, you really do win.

Anyway…I’m just writing to tell you how much I…I loathe you.

Despise you.

You are being utterly ridiculous with this premium increase.

You, Dear Medical Insurance Company, are a low-down, dirty, rotten steak stealer.

And I’m just writing to let you know.

Rant off.


Mme. Halushki

Have a Happy New Year.

You scoundrels.


Anonymous said...

Sounds familiar. Being self-employed (as owner of a small business) puts you in the same situation. With the outrageous premiums to cover my family along with the ridiculous co-payment policies, we opted to go the "pay-as-you-go" route rather than the bankruptcy-by-premium route. Granted, we're done having babies and we've been very fortunate health-wise, only having to deal with allergies and asthma.

Stories like yours and mine demonstrate why we need Universal Health Care. And as more and more people find themselves in the same situation as more and more business cannot afford to pay health insurance premiums on their employees, Universal Health Care is appearing to be more and more likely in the foreseeable future.

Of course, that doesn't help you (or our family) in the here and now. What a wonderful healthcare system we have here in the richest country in the world, huh?

Anonymous said...

wow... this sucks a lot. so sorry to hear about all of it. i'm just getting caught up on the b-logs b/c i have been so incognito myself after the holidays, and baby boy who would eat all day long if i would be cool enough to let him.

sucks. really sucks. any help from a local representative? probably not, but might be worth asking.

but all in all, I am just reallly glad everything is OK with the baby. you scared me there. plus you really scared me with the pregnancy thing b/c I thought you were speaking present tense and you were pregnant again!

toyfoto said...

I hate your insurance company, too. Oy. This is why we need universal coverage.

And I wish I could send you a steak.

josetteplank.com said...

oh no no no no no no no...present tense for dramatic purpose only, lol. I have problems with my tenses, which is why I do need a good editor.

I won't say "never again" because last time I said that...well...

I do love my Little Blessed Event and every time I look at him, I'm glad I jinxed myself with "never again".

But, really...the baby factory has closed for business. :-)

I did just change the wording in that section, just so I won't give my MIL a heart attack.

Chicky Chicky Baby said...

That suuucks. Here's another holla for universal health care.

anne said...

Ohhhh sis. That sucks very big.

I (and I have absolutely no problem throwing the word around on this topic) HATE HATE HATE insurance companies. All of them. Health, car and, my personal favorite, you-pay-us-money-several-times-a-year-because-you-can't-get-a-mortgage-without-us-but-just-don't-ever-try-to-make-a-claim-because-we-will-not-only-not-pay-you-but-we-will-make-you-uninsurable-on-homes-for-pretty-much-the-rest-of-your-life companies.


Anonymous said...

I have a similar post written that I never hit publish on because I was so angry when I wrote it that I couldn't even make it coherent. My daughter is 15 months old and we JUST RECENTLY got them to pay for an ultrasound after a non-reactive fetal non-stress test due to gestational diabetes. They refused, blah, blah, blah. You know the drill, obviously, so much better than I do. Insurance companies suck. I love how they can decide how much they'll pay a doctor but as a citizen, we don't have the same rights to tell doctors they're charging too much. I hope you get this resolved somehow. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

If MIL means what I think it does (and I am totally unhip so who knows?)I must respond.
More of your beautiful babies with chubby cheeks? Bring 'em on.
Just make sure there is some cubby hole left somewhere in the house in case I have to move in when I retire and am relying on Medicare for my health. Maybe we could redo the garage?

josetteplank.com said...

Yes...sorry! MIL means mother-in-law.

Medicare? Bah. You need to find a nice doctor to marry. ;)

Eva said...

This is why I thank my lucky stars for being born in Canada. Sure we have to do without the luxuries of H&M and Sephora stores and have to get a passport to cross-border grocery-shop, and pay WAY more income tax than Americans, but it is so nice not to have to worry about healthcare. I feel your pain and share your hatred.

Debbie said...

this is exactly why I CANNOT WAIT for a national health care initiative to pass. because our president is logical enough to not veto something like that, should it slide across his desk.


p.s. I'll see your steak/lobster tangoing duo and raise you a night at a luxury hotel, with a paid sitter for the kids.

kaliroz said...

Oh my goodness, my Phil Collins hating friend. (I love you even more because of that, btw.) That's awful. Outrageous! Add me to the universal coverage chorus.

I do envy you, though. Why is your writing still funny when you're mad? This ... "I understand that overweight men who smoke unfiltered Camels while rubbing themselves in lard are risky business when it comes to potential payouts" ... well it almost made me pee my pants.

Anonymous said...

Bleeecccccchhhhhh. Here's another fist up in the air with yours.

Of course, our daughter has the type of condition that makes insurance companies call emergency meetings to see if there's any way they can cut off coverage and I can't say I exactly blame them, well except that's what insurance is supposed to be *about*, but ... still.

Funny and true and geez.

Here in Illinois we just got a lovely children's health insurance program which covers kids for incredibly low prices. It doesn't work for us, because they require kids to be uninsured for 3 months to qualify, and no way in hell are we going to go that route because we would most certainly have to put a bankruptcy lawyer on speed-dial.

But, other than that, it's a great program. Might your state have something similar?

josetteplank.com said...

Yes, moreena - the PA Chip program


was just extended to people with incomes beyond the previous cutoffs, but as a subsidized insurance program. We'd pay a portion, but a portion that is, I hope, a lot lower than what the insurance company is quoting me. I spoke with a rep today and he's sending me the forms to fill out in triplicate. But...yes, according to what I've read on the website, we can't have had insurance for three months prior. However, the guy on the phone seemed to indicate with a silent wink - or so I think - that there might be a way that we can get the kid on insurance without needing to free fall for those three months.

I hope...I hope. Otherwise, that's three months the kid's going to be locked in a rubber kennel. ;)

Anonymous said...

When my former co-workers would rave about how great our benefits were, I'd wave my hand dismissively. Yeah, whatever.

Until I left the company and we had to go on COBRA. All four of us super-healthy people. Nearly $1K a month. Forget steak - all I wanted was a freaking hamburger.

It's such a double-edged sword - you can't afford not to have it, but you struggle to pay it each month.

Anonymous said...

I gasped when I got to that figure. Audibly. I just...I just want to scream. I am familiar with that COBRA acronym and so I feel you.

Send this post to a local paper or something, will you? Or at least to the democratic candidates running for absolutely anything. People should see this.

steph said...

insurance stuff sucks -- i was having some poblems, too, with my asthma stuff. ugh. boo. really sucks when youare punished for trying to find your own insurance. i totally agree that we need univeral health care here.

Michael Plank said...

Now that's what I call getting results!


Friday, January 12, 2007

Rendell will roll out plan for universal health care
By David Wenner/The Patriot-News

Gov. Ed Rendell said today he will unveil his plan for universal health care on Wednesday, the day after he takes the oath of office for his second term.

The goal of the plan will be to provide health insurance for every Pennsylvanian.


Anonymous said...

Oh, honey. I hate Phil Collins and Insurance companies too.

Not as much as you, I'm sure.


josetteplank.com said...


Well, I don't know if it was the blog post or those photos I sent him of me dressed as a soaking wet candy striper.


Well, now that that's done, I guess it's on to my plan for an exit strategy for Iraq.

Gosh! I feel so powerful!

I think I'll give myself a raise.

Anonymous said...

Half House is self-employed and if there was ever a bigger racket than the idea of insurance all by itself, it's the idea of INSURANCE FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED. Because, as we all know, the best way to punish a person for taking part in the American Dream by creating his/her own business is to screw them over with huge and unaffordable insurance payments.

Julie Pippert said...

Listen, I had to COBRA to bear my last child (the Republic allows insurance to exclude maternity and I know you know how effed up that is...so I had to appeal to the Commonwealth to save my sorry pregnant rear---large as it was---and thank the Democrats it did).

Anyway we went out on a limb this year.

My insurance woes are similar to yours, you may or may not recall.

We went cash.

Yep, Health Savings Account with wicked high deductible.

Here's the kicker: despite some unexpected traumatic medical events, so far, better.

First, the negotiated cash price with the doctor/dentist/optometrist is about maybe $10-$40 more (on average) from the copay. It still ends up less.

If we ever have a catastrophe, once we hit the deductible (which is less than what we spent out of pocket on top of insurance costs last year) it is 100% covered, all of it.

Hub's firm went with this (in addition to the PPO and HMO offers) and offered incentives because it costs so much less than traditional insurance. They pull the money out pre-tax. It covers anything practically (including vitamins and things like that) and is a good savings that doesn't have an end or year limit.

Anyway, maybe your husband's firm can look into this for you.

So far, I think it is more economical for us and the company, and I so much prefer limited to no contact with the insurance company.

My popularity with healthcare providers is increased too, as soon as I say "Cash, not insurance."

Sorry, insurance woes suck.

Kristen said...

GAH! I hate insurance, hate the entire medical care system the way it's set up. That premium increase is absolutely ridiculous. I barely escaped the COBRA trap a few years ago when I also had to change insurance due to losing my job when I was 12 weeks pregnant. We lucked out and my husband's insurance covered me because there ended up being no lapse in coverage time, but those COBRA costs that we were preparing to pay were keeping me up at night.

Anonymous said...

I'm on board with the rant, but personally, i'd replace Phil Collins with Rod Stewart.

Anonymous said...

Not to belittle your financial pain, but your treatment of it in this post was hilarious!

Jess Riley said...

Even in despair and frustration you inspire me with your wordsmithery.

I am sorry to hear of this BS; I am dreaming of the day when our nation adopts universal healthcare/coverage.

Anonymous said...

Ouchies. I'm so sorry. Insurance company, up yours!!

Anonymous said...

you are such a good writer, i love your blog. i've been lurking for ages and you're tops.

that said, health insurance in this country is CRAP. i cannot BELIEVE how much we pay for how little. it's utterly ridiculous.

S.T. said...

Oh boy. I feel you Mme. Halushki. It's a fucking travesty that so many people is this VERY wealthy country have to go without health insurance or have to choose between food, clothing, shoes and insurance. I'll say it again, it's a fucking travesty. And it should be a crime.

And I didn't think it was possible that we could have even more in common, but I also hate head lice, olives and Phil Collins with a white hot intensity.

mad muthas said...

what a fantastic stream of consciousness rant! virginia wolf - eat yer heart out. v sorry to hear about the metabolic thingy. you must have been bricking it until you had it properly explained. and, of course, the last thing you need is a rapacious, uncaring healthcare insurance co on the end of the the phone. was it scrooge and marley by any chance? the uk national health service may be on its knees, but at least it's there ... for everyone.

Unknown said...

I'll say it one more time for everyone . . .
C A N A D A.
We have universal health care. It is far from perfect but it works for 95% of the people.
There's no such thing as a health insurance company. Your HMO's are parasites; middlemen feeding off of your misfortunes.

Big Gav said...

At the risk of sounding like some sort of big government socialist, universal healthcare is pretty good.

Its not just Canada that has it - everywhere else in the developed world does too.

As an Australian I can going travelling pretty much anywhere in Europe, or Japan, or New Zealand, or Canada, and get free healthcare there too (we all have reciprocal arrangements with each other).

I saw a doctor, a chiropractor and had a massage today and my out of pocket expenses were about $70 (about US$55). And thats in the most expensive part of the country...

And when my wife has a baby next month the government gives us $5000.

I'm not trying to be mean here either - Australia is much poorer than America so obviously your money is going somewhere else (hint: hot, brown desert full of very angry people).

PunditMom said...

I'm from Pa. And my parents still live in Pa. They're small family farmers -- so I know just how hard it is to come by decent health insurance.

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