Tuesday March 02nd 2010, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Politics

So the hubby comes home tonight and opens his mail.

And now we know the details.

To all those who think employer-based healthcare plans are the pure and only true path to medicine? Given my medical history, insurance is a subject close to home here.  Are you sitting down?

My husband and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary this summer.  Thirty years ago, with both of us having grandfathers on the political scene in DC for decades, they knew everybody, they had us invite everybody to the reception, we sent out 500 invitations and 500 people actually showed up! We were standing in that receiving line for three and a half solid hours with no breaks in the flow of humanity, most of whom my new husband and I didn’t know, all these people taking the time out of their lives to come shake our hands and wish us well.

We solemnly promised our own children we would never do that to them.

I guess one could say now that we had a lot of witnesses, having no idea we might someday need them. (One thank-you note, on the other hand, was returned two months after the wedding as “recipient deceased.” That was fast. We might be in trouble here.)

My husband’s employer, a Fortune 500 company, now says we must produce our marriage certificate, and fast, or they are cutting off my medical insurance on the assumption of fraud.  They are doing this to everybody.  We claim John is our son? We’d better produce the birth certificate and prove it, and his school transcript, too.  We have to order the license or the birth certificate from the states they happened in? Oh, those states are furloughing workers and are weeks or even, in California’s case, months behind on all paperwork?  So sad too bad, you’re out.

It took California over ten weeks to process my auto registration payment, and that’s when they were in effect getting paid money by me to do so, and not just some nominal fee.  Okay, yes, we have the kid’s birth certificate, but not his transcript.  And what of all the people who don’t have a copy on hand for their kids?  Or of their marriage certificate?

I so much want to ask the CEO, whose own insurance, I am sure, is in no way imperiled: exactly what kind of corporate culture do they think they’re trying for here? Are they familiar with the term meta-message? Could you shake each employee’s hand, look them in the eye, and convince them you were wishing them and their families…well?

32 Comments so far
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O.M.G. Unbelievable is right! As I read your post, my jaw actually dropped. What’s next, paternity tests?

Comment by Nancy G 03.02.10 @ 10:41 pm

Alison – I agree, unbelievable…

Comment by Renee 03.03.10 @ 12:17 am

Well, it’s a good thing you HAVE John’s birth certificate and that it didn’t, say, accidentally get lost when he had to send it in to apply for a passport, thus requiring that it be replaced.

For the record, I did recently have to send a copy of Becca’s current registration at Yale to our insurance to prove that she is still a fulltime student at 23, but they accepted that pretty quickly.

One more thing. After 30 years, wouldn’t you be common-law spouses even WITHOUT that ceremony and the 500 witnesses thereto?

Comment by LauraN 03.03.10 @ 4:00 am

Absolutely scandalous! It just gets crazier and crazier.

Comment by LynnM 03.03.10 @ 4:48 am

Instead of innocent until proven guilty, they’re going with fraudulent until proven related? Nice, I don’t think.

Comment by ccr in MA 03.03.10 @ 5:16 am

My insurance is doing the same thing this year. I am in the much more tenuous position of my significant other being on my policy as a domestic partner. We do not have any sort of marriage license, and are scrambling to figure out what kind of paperwork we can possibly provide to prove it. Much fun is being had by all.

Comment by Krysta 03.03.10 @ 5:16 am

It seems to me that it is OK to ask for confirmation of student status on an annual basis, but asking for a transcript and quickly, at that, seems overkill and burdensome. Asking for marriage and birth certificates lest you be deemed fraudulent just seems like a sucker punch. So much for employer-employee trust – I guess they valued something else more.

Comment by twinsetellen 03.03.10 @ 5:46 am

The request seems ridiculous in the time-frame involved. Even a birth certificate is not all that easy to get these days because of identity theft.

Comment by Joansie 03.03.10 @ 5:58 am

Wow. That’s bordering on the absurd. Correction – not bordering, it is absurd. Makes me want to create a file of all this stuff…

Comment by Sandra 03.03.10 @ 6:35 am

Oscar’s employer did the very same thing last year.
It was a simple matter of faxing them the certificate, if I remember correctly, Of course finding the certificate was a bit more problematic.

Comment by Diana Troldahl 03.03.10 @ 6:38 am

Wow! When you think nothing else can surprise you with your insurance anymore… Boom! Another level opens up!

I hope you come across kind people to help you get the documentation you need.

Comment by Suzanne in Mtl 03.03.10 @ 6:41 am


Hem. And here I was, cranky because the Knight’s dental “extraction” isn’t covered today because of the carrier change and waiting periods.

Comment by Channon 03.03.10 @ 7:14 am

so–who should be divorced and kicked to the curb–the employers or the health insurance companies?

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 03.03.10 @ 7:15 am

I actually have all that stuff in one place–a fire-proof locked box, actually, because we are both Virgos and we’re like that–but I’d have a very difficult time sending off my children’s birth certificates to some anonymous employee for processing. Or even faxing it over. All that information in one place? After we sent it off for the kids’ passports, we started getting credit card offers in my younger son’s name and were advised to contact the credit bureaus to check for identity theft. The passport application passed through who knows how many hands, any of whom could have copied down his information.

It seems like California, of all places, might have a law against this–or be open to having one. Have you called your state reps yet? It’s on my list to call mine to complain that the state-mandated lead test for my daughter is not fully covered by insurance. (I think the state should mandate coverage, too.)

Comment by amy 03.03.10 @ 7:20 am

I had to wait a minute before I started typing, because I tend to let loose with a barrage of unfortunate vocabulary when confronted with such obstructive tactics. (I just deleted a sentence peppered with expletives. I’m sorry.)

I would definitely report this to the Insurance Commissioner’s office, and every single representative you have, as well as maybe consulting an attorney.

Health care reform, my, uh, oh, ELBOW!

Comment by Patricia Day 03.03.10 @ 7:56 am

I agree, that is absolutely unbelievable. What a crazy mixed up system. And it must be frustrating beyond belief.

Comment by Julie 03.03.10 @ 8:35 am

amazing — frightening — what can I say?

and this is, as we well know, because the costs of insurance are soaring and it doesn’t look like we have a snowball’s chance in hell to get it fixed!

Comment by Bev 03.03.10 @ 8:48 am

Holy.. What the… are they…

Nope, can’t come up with anything PG in response to this.

Comment by GeekKnitter 03.03.10 @ 8:58 am

big sigh. it would be nice if we could choose to “fire” them.
mine also just raised rates significantly, and cut what they are willing to cover.
i also tried to find out what exactly the cost of one of my spendy meds would be and could not. talked to the insurance people, the specialty pharmacy, and the drug manufacturer. they all had different guesses. i just wanted to know for sure that i could pay my share before i ordered it.
big sigh.
can you imagine if grocery stores operated this way?

Comment by kmom 03.03.10 @ 9:18 am

I’m really angry on your behalf, Alison… and well, Canada isn’t perfect, but in this regard? I’m very happy. I walk into the doctor’s office. They welcome me. I am treated. I go home. No charge. Ahhh.

Comment by Joanne 03.03.10 @ 9:18 am

I cannot disagree with any of the above comments. And I certainly agree with Patricia that you should contact the Insurance Commissioner’s office. Isn’t that Poizner’s office? And isn’t he running for Gov?

Another thought — Is Richard’s company asking for this information of ALL employees? I know the insurance companies want to drop the ones they have to pay for, and keep the healthy ones.

Absolutely time for a bit of humor —

A woman walking past the veterinary clinic saw a small boy with his dog waiting outside. “Are you waiting to see the vet?” she asked. “Yes,” answered the boy, “I’m having my dog put in neutral.”

It was the usual busy day at the bank. A woman came up to the customer service desk and demanded, “What do I have to do to change the address on my account?” Without looking up the clerk responded, “Move.”

Comment by Don Meyer 03.03.10 @ 11:34 am

THANK YOU to Don — we needed that. And yes, I’m appalled about the requests for marriage licenses and birth certificates.

On the other hand, I recently was stunned in a positive way to open the EOB from my ins co for my mammogram and they had paid it 100% as preventive care. They also paid 100% for both flu shots. We’re both scheduled for colonoscopies. Wonder if that’ll be covered 100% since I can guarantee you nobody would go through that prep if it weren’t so clearly preventive. (Yeah, I know, Alison, you’d much prefer to be able to go through that prep. I agree.)

Comment by sjanova 03.03.10 @ 12:23 pm

How wretched. How on earth do these people sleep at night?

Comment by Lanafactrix 03.03.10 @ 1:05 pm

The military healthcare system certainly isn’t perfect, but as long as I’m listed as Justin’s wife in their info system, I’ve covered. Everything’s covered, as long as you’ve gotten approval.

However, back before we got married, I always worried about health insurance. I had good insurance, but… You know, that at any time, they can change coverage, premiums, with little to no recourse.

Hope you can get it straightened out ASAP. That’s beyond stupid, after 30 years of marriage. Honestly.

Comment by Serena Rother 03.03.10 @ 3:31 pm

Hmmm. You mean there actually is some advantage to working for a tiny company? Wait, no there’s not. The insurance is awful. Ours, for example, just cut out-patient mental health care coverage in half. Last year our coverage was just under the standard of care for treating chronic conditions. Now, we get ten visits a year — ten — and the doc wants to see the child every other week.
I guess they’d rather pay the inpatient charges, and for all the other health problems that go with untreated depression and anxiety disorders. Sigh.

Big insurance, big business, big mess.
Luckily, the world has folks like you in it. (Have I thanked you lately for inspiring me?)

Comment by Helen 03.03.10 @ 6:48 pm

Just had to do the same for Neil’s insurance. Thank G-d the man is the most organized person I have ever met and I could put my hands on the birth certificates right away.

Still stupid.

Comment by afton 03.03.10 @ 7:58 pm

Well, now that you have the marriage certificate, you should renew your vows for your 30th! Isn’t life funny? 😀

Comment by Robin 03.03.10 @ 9:02 pm

Large company probably is self-insured, and so has more control than they are willing to let on. DEFINITELY call/write the Insurance Commissioner. Short time frame is unreasonable, but checking things, I can understand. Way too much fraud out there these days. (including identity theft, fraudulently using someone else’s health coverage is rampant) We just had to go through the I-9 process via e-Verify. Prove we are legal to work, and on short timeframe. We proved it when we started working here, but had to do it again.

Relax. Breathe. If they kick folks out, they have to reinstate coverage back to date of termination of coverage once proof is given. Just one more reason to keep all your documents in order. Fireproof box is what I do with all that stuff, too. Worth spending the money to have it all in one place–at your fingertips.

In DC, you can walk in to the bureau and pay your money (after waiting in line, of course) and get your certificate right then and there. And DC is known for taking their jolly sweet time about *everything*.

I’ve got my divorce docs just as readily available, now, too. Scan ’em and keep an electronic (pdf) version, too. (If you are faxing it, they won’t know the difference!)

Still, contact the Insurance Commish. They should be kinder to their own employees. Nobody is making them do it with a short turnaround.

Comment by Karen L 03.03.10 @ 10:34 pm

This just makes my blood boil. Indefensible. And hey what- people are *gasp* fraudulently using the healthcare coverage of others? Could that be because our healthcare system is ^%&&$#@!! broken.

Comment by RobinH 03.04.10 @ 10:00 am

You’re lucky they will accept birth certificates, and don’t demand a genetics test…….

Comment by Margo Lynn 03.04.10 @ 3:56 pm

for new registants, that seems reasonable. for long timers? WTF??? sorry, but I’m fonna say it-healthcare mafia bastards

Comment by Carol 03.08.10 @ 6:01 pm

That’s unreasonable to demand new documentation for existing clients. A self-insured company falls under US Dept of Labor’s Benefits Assistance (ERISA). US Dept of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration
The fed phone is 866-275-7922

San Francisco office: Joe Chianese at 415-625-2447 or email chianese.joseph@dol.gov

Comment by Betsy 03.13.10 @ 3:24 pm

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