My KINGDOM for a $373 a month premium and ONLY $1,500 maximum out-of-pocket in order to take care of myself and the Lupus inside of me!!!
That is what fellow Lupus sufferer Emilie Lamb is complaining about as she blasts President Obama over her new health care plan, forced upon her under the Affordable Care Act. She’s the star of a commercial attacking “ObamaCare” and is giving interviews left and right slamming the President.
Tennessee resident Lamb is one of the few who received one of the now infamous letters from her insurance company, CoverTN, telling her she will not longer be able to keep her plan because it does not comply with the landmark legislation.
But let’s break down the coverage she is so upset to lose, because Lamb is ANGRY at the President, even attending the State of the Union as a guest of Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.
CoverTN was run by the state of Tennessee. Hmmm, right away I’m raising an eyebrow, as usually those against “ObamaCare’” don’t want “government run” health insurance. Yet Lamb clearly doesn’t have that issue. Good. So let’s move on.
What was the great thing about CoverTN? According to Lamb, “The coverage was perfectly suited to my unique medical condition. It offered me low premiums, a low deductible and low co-pays for my regular trips to doctors and specialists. This plan was perfect for someone with my unique medical condition and limited financial means.”
Yes, Lupus is a unique medical condition and can be very, very expensive for those of us that suffer from the disorder. Lupus has you bouncing from test to test, doctor to doctor and ER to ER.
Lamb says she had low premiums, awesome. How low? $57 a month. WOW. That’s AMAZING. How low was Lamb’s deductible? She doesn’t say. How low were the co-pays? She doesn’t say. Low prescription coverage? Lamb doesn’t say. There is no mention of a maximum out-of-pocket from Lamb. Something KEY to us Lupus patients as most of us hit this maximum every year due to the crazy high costs of all the drugs and treatments we need in order to keep our auto-immune disorder in check. To give you an idea, I have hit my maximum out-of-pocket every single year since my Lupus diagnosis in JANUARY of that year, after my FIRST TREATMENT.
January. I’m not kidding.
Mine was $6,000 for an individual and
$12,000 $18,000* for the family under our old plan. We’re saving $2,000 in that category on our new ACA plan and I was THRILLED. Yes, that was a SAVINGS. So to have my maximum be $1500 like Lamb’s…WOW, I’d be crying tears of joy and frankly licking the President’s boots for saving us so much money. I’m jealous.
But, like most Americans, we’re all on a tight budget. So I wanted to figure out just how much more Lamb is paying under ACA and why she’s so upset. She claims she’ll be paying at least $6,000 more per year.
$6,000 was my maximum out-of-pocket so again, I’m jealous.
I know we all have different incomes and an extra $300 a month isn’t easy for anyone. So I headed over to CoverTN to try and figure out what her old plan was all about and why she thinks it was the be all and end all of Lupus coverage. I quickly learned CoverTN was, by far, the scariest type of coverage someone with a chronic illness could possibly have. The only saving grace was it was affordable for those who simply couldn’t afford anything else.
You need to understand something about Lupus patients. We are chronically sick. Like…as in, all the damn time. That means we are CONSTANTLY in and out of the hospital, in and out of the ER, at our doctor’s office, undergoing treatment, missing work, having tests done, undergoing X-rays and MRIs and really weird brain tests to make sure we haven’t lost any cognitive skills. We accumulate thousands upon thousands upon hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses per year. That means we NEED an insurance plan that has things like NO annual caps, NO penalties for pre-existing conditions and NO waiting periods as we get SICKER while we wait and NO lifetime limits.
Guess what CoverTN had? You guessed it, all of those things I just listed. In fact, in announcing they are no longer going to offer the program, they lamented their inability to screw over the chronically ill: “…those that administer the Cover Tennessee programs, can no longer implement annual or lifetime limits, institute a waiting period for pre-existing conditions, require a ‘go bare’ period, or deny an individual coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies must also cover preventative services without any out-of-pocket costs to the member.”
But it gets worse for a Lupus patient who had CoverTN, “CoverTN is a limited benefit program that has a $25,000 annual limit.”
HOLY SHIT (sorry, but this deserves a curse word) $25,000!!!!!
Just ONE ROUND OF TREATMENT FOR MY LUPUS COSTS ALMOST DOUBLE THAT. $44,000 is what was billed to Aetna for one round of IVIG for me. That’s what I get EVERY 2-3 weeks!!!! That doesn’t even count the Rituxan I receive every four months or the 17 medications I take monthly or the co-pay every time I go see my doctor or the labs every time I go see my doctor. Just ONE of my treatments ALONE wipes out everything CoverTN had to offer me.
I would hit CoverTN’s $25,0000 annual limit the first week of January.
I would also hit their lifetime limit. Accrue their penalty for having a pre-existing condition. Have to undergo a waiting period with NO HEALTH CARE just to QUALIFY and have to pay for basic preventative services of which are ESSENTIAL to keep my system healthy to fight Lupus.
Now, maybe I am an extreme case and Lamb is a minor case. She is, after all, working. She says in the article she’s taking on a second job. My Lupus does not allow me to work.
However, according to information given to me by the Lupus Foundation of America the mean annual direct costs of people with lupus ranged from $13,735-$20,926; the costs of those with and without nephritis ranged from $29,034-$62,651 and $12,273-$16,575, respectively. (source)
That means Lamb’s CoverTN health care was essentially a tiny notch above catastrophic coverage- if that. Her new plan actually will help her should she have a Lupus flare. Except Lamb says, “For me, the impact of ObamaCare is a health plan that is both unaffordable and uncaring. For a law named ’The Affordable Care Act,’ this is both backward and perverse.”
For those who don’t know, I was released from the hospital at the end of last week. Lupus flare.
Our new Affordable Care Act plan info was given to the admitting people as I cried in the emergency room, knowing full well I was going to be stuck in the hospital for days. I waited to hear the usual “That will be $500 for your ER copay, your deductible and other bills will follow…would you like to pay now or should we bill you?”
Instead I heard ‘That will be $150 for your ER copay, you have no deductible. Would you like to pay that now or shall we bill you?”
Uncaring? Backwards? Perverse? I shudder to think what would have happened to Lamb if she found herself being admitted to the hospital for a Lupus flare under her old plan.
Unfortunately Emilie Lamb doesn’t see it this way. She went on to say “When you were on the campaign trail, you promised that ObamaCare would help me with my medical problems. You promised that people like me with pre-existing conditions would be better off. And you promised that if I liked my health-care plan, I could keep it. Mr. President, you’ve now broken all of these promises — and not just to me.”
Except she couldn’t be more wrong. She now will be able to receive the expensive treatments to help with her medical problems. She won’t be discriminated against for her pre-existing condition.
However Lamb is 100% correct in that she did not get to keep the health care plan she liked, and I, for one, am glad.
But what of that extra $300 per month? Believe me, I’m not dismissing the extra cost for Lamb. So I took a look at what was available, with the best estimates I could make from what she has disclosed publicly, and plugged it into HealthCare.gov for an estimate on plans she could have chosen for less per month. Even the minimum plans would be a step up from the CoverTN plan she loved. Some of the bronze and silver plans were as low as $137 a month NOT including the tax credit Lamb would qualify for, easily putting her in the $60 range- the same amount she way paying previously with BETTER coverage.
I also spoke with my rheumatologist’s office and they confirmed there are several programs for Lupus, RA, Fibromyalgia, and other patients with auto-immune disorders to help off-set their costs. There are a handful offered through my doctor who partners with various organizations, so I would highly suggest Lamb check with her rheumatologist for similar.
Emilie Lamb, I am sorry you feel betrayed by President Obama. I just hope in time you will see no one is trying to ruin your life by forcing you to give up your bare-bones health insurance. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite.
Should you happen to read this, I am happy to help in any way I can. Something tells me those in the White House you call uncaring and perverse are willing to help too. Whether you realize it or not, they already have.
*cost of our Aetna plan family maximum revised after double checking the photos I made available of our plans on my original enrollment post & subsequent media coverage