Uncovered California

Tim Knight from Slope of Hope's picture

I've shared my gripes about Covered California before, such as here and here. I've got more to add.

I'm self-employed, so I get insurance through the so-called Covered California system of health insurance. California is one of the many states that decided, in its infinite wisdom, to not hang off the federal government's healthcare.gov site, but instead spend $100 million of its own to re-invent the wheel.


So instead of one wholly integrated federal health care system, we have something like 30 disparate systems, all of them expensive, and none of them perfect. Indeed, "not perfect" is an absurd understatement, roughly equal to Oprah being "not petite." Allow me to offer my own personal example.

When I initially signed up for the service in December, I decided to be cheap and buy the Bronze level of service, since my medical needs are approximately zero. The signup went decently well (although it was clear the web site was sorta kinda broken), and I was on my way. Healthnet was the private insurance carrier that provided my lame-ass Bronze coverage, and that was that.

A couple of weeks later, I decided Bronze was a pretty pathetic level, and that Silver would be a more appropriate product for me. Now, in a just and sane universe, I would have signed on to the web site, clicked the Upgrade button, agreed to the higher premium, and we would all go on with our lives. Ho ho ho! Nope. Not even close.

I debated whether or not to share with you all I went through to execute this ostensibly simple procedure, but honestly, even with the most riveting writing, I would lose all of you along the way. There were many steps, many phone conversations, and many dozens of hours expended on this ridiculous act. There were false starts, dead ends, and wrong turns. If there is a Hell, they surely will model it on my experience upgrading from Bronze to Silver.

But that was weeks ago. I'm not going to go back down that path, because, at long last, I finally got the upgrade done, and I was on my way. So what am I griping about now?

It's good that you ask, because I just happen to be typing right now, and I'd be glad to respond.

On Friday, my doctor's office contacted me to tell me they weren't getting paid, because my insurance had been cancelled. Umm..........what? Given what screw-ups both Covered California and Healthnet are, I wasn't shocked, but after spending so much time and energy finally getting upgraded, it made me sick to think I'd have to venture back into The Land That Competency Forgot to deal with this.

But, sure enough, I logged onto Healthnet and was greeting with the following:


For my convenience. For. My. Convenience. You douchenozzles! The last thing you care about in the world is my convenience!

So then I called them, and I felt kind of honored, in a way, because as luck would have it, I managed to reach the winner of the World's Most Dim-Witted Person contest to help me. What a treat! So after speaking with her at great length (because, let's face it, my time has no value), it was determined that..........my premiums were promptly paid, yes. I hadn't done anything wrong, yes. But, according to Ms. Dim, Covered California had cancelled the policy on April 3 for no reason, and that Covered California was in the process of fixing this, and it would be all just dandy in a week or ten days.

See, the beauty of the State and a Private Company partnering like this is they can always blame0421-dumbdumber one another. There's nothing easier than extending one's index finger Over There to indicate whose fault it is. I've noticed they do this a lot. And so they did it a again.

Although I could have just left it at that, I'm not naive enough to think that everything was going to work itself out, so I called Covered California (which is akin to the proverbial jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, because let's remember, at least Healthnet is a private company). So, after a lot of waiting, I reached a human at CoveredCA and told her the situation.'

She carefully examined my records and said, nope, they didn't cancel me, and there was nothing untoward about my account at all. She had no idea what Healthnet was talking about.

Well, OK, fine. But while I had her on the phone, I explained to her that I'd like to be able to log in to my own CoveredCA account from time to time, and my username and password weren't working.

She explained to me that the username/password I had wouldn't work, but that I should create a new account, just like I did the first time, and enter a special Case Number when prompted in order to "link" to my information. OK, fine. So she told me the access code, letter by letting, emphasizing which letters were uppercase and which were lowercase. I carefully repeated it back to make sure I had it right, because getting a human on the phone is time-consuming enough.

Later on, I went to the web site, and I dutifully started to create a new account. I saw the field she mentioned, which gave me a sense of relief, because that's where I was supposed to enter my code:


I carefully entered the code and clicked the Submit button. It waited a moment, and then up came a dialog box saying that the code wasn't valid. Although I knew I entered the code carefully, I tried once again, this time, triple-checking each letter. I clicked Submit. Same deal. I tried a third time. No change.

Thus, I called them yet again. After a long while, I got another human, and I explained the situation. She said to me, and I'm not making this up: "Oh, yes, that's the correct Access Code. But those don't actually work."

It soon became evident that the entire Access Code schtick was just a sorry waste of time. It didn't work at all. And when I expressed astonishment that their $100 million site had this error, she laughed, "Oh, that's nothing! That's one of the small problems! You wouldn't believe how many glitches there are."

NEWS FLASH: I had thrown out the figure "$100 million" a couple of times, I realize. This was just a dumb guess. I took the time to actually find out what it cost, and I'm sorry I didn't do better research for my readers. Turns out the costs were $489 million. Sorry 'bout dat.

In any case, I am a healthy, relatively young person, and the preceding has been a taste of my experience. I can't imagine what someone with real health needs would go through. But I'll close by saying this: I realize I piss and moan and bitch about people who work for Goldman Sachs, or JP Morgan, or wherever else. But you know what...........they're supposed to make lots of money, and it just so happens they're very good at it. Getting hired at a place like Goldman Sachs is a very big deal, and although these people are no saints............they are good at what they do. They have to be, because private enterprise doesn't tolerate otherwise.

When you're dealing with state bureaucrats, however, it's an entirely different universe. You are dealing with some of the dumbest folks on the planet, fiercely protected by entrenched unions, and utterly devoid of incentive to do anything but punch a clock and get through their day.

The old saw, cited for years to avoid national health, about government-based health care having "the efficiency of the post office and the sensitivity of the IRS" was far too optimistic. I'm here to tell you.............it sucks out loud. So, for your own sake, don't ever get sick.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
John_Coltrane's picture

When the author stated he had very few medical needs and was relatively young I wondered, why did he waste his time on this "insurance" scam?  He could obtain excellent, cash only, conceriege medical care if needed.  Now, however, he can expect his private data to be stolen by hackers.  So, his hassles are only beginning.

Do not obey fascist control freaks.  I suppose he would register and/or turn in his guns too if such a law was passed. Ignore these incompetent assholes, your time and freedom are too valuable. 

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

a week ago: do you now have time to write up those equations proving the 200 ppm? With any molecule much less CO2

Remember? Your comment, http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2014-04-14/34-american-adults-who-a...

my reply http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2014-04-14/34-american-adults-who-a...

and then... nothing.

Perhaps it's you that's not up to the math.

JB's picture

OP's first mistake was signing up.

shovelhead's picture

I'm studying do it yourself psychic surgery at Phoenix University Online. No messy tools to buy or sterilize.

I'll pay back that student loan in no time at all.

Papasmurf's picture

You'll make a small fortune in this profession because there's so little competition.  Your largest expense will be tag renewals on your van.

world_debt_slave's picture

I was self employed in California for twelve years, finally got out of there in 2012, living much better now.

Smiley's picture

Some dark evil part of me almost wants a full single payer system just so I can watch all those douche-bag doctors, nurses, and medical administrators, that have been pimping for this train-wreck, get a dose of reality when they realize what REALLY happens when government pays for medical expenses AND dictates what the going rate for those expenses are.  It will be really interesting to see what happens when all medical professionals get a 50% haircut in their pay because Uncle Sam says those aspirin no longer cost $25 apiece and it no longer costs $150 for a doctor to glance at your chart for 10 seconds for a 'consultation.'

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

It would be Canada.

And it works great.

My theory: we aren't retarded like Murrikinz.

spooz's picture

It would be nice to get that 30% off the top reduction in health care costs that cuts out the endless paperwork machine that is the health insurance industry.

saveUSsavers's picture

My bronze is Kaiser so HNet is NOT only one. what else is bs ?

Bear's picture

My experience is very similiar ......... With Kaiser. Glad to see you are so familar with impossible .gov

Doofus's picture

Thanks for writing that piece.  Very informative.

whidbey-2's picture

I feel better already.  I phoned the IRS to inquire about long term care costs deductability and was told " we have no information on what long care costs, it varies so widely we have no guidance, but we suspect is is not deductable, unless it exceeds 6% of your gross taxable income in each year from initiation to the year in which you die.  But... actually no one knows if that is correct, so deduct the whole amount you paid, but we have no way of knowing whether that type of insurance is even reviewed in accepting your return, in fact, we have been told orally it will not be questioned if you are over 70 years of age.Thank you for your call"  I said thank, " that is what I would have suspected after reading the instructions."

The whole system, health and taxation, have mated and turned out a race of sub human idiots who speak a language not known to most citizens of the US, of course there not that many citizens, so it may not be as serious as I first thought.




Raging Debate's picture

Insurance companies - Another example of a middle man now adding no value. Like Goldman Sachs or Uncle Sam. There are cycles where such make sense to use and others that do not.

kurt's picture

Dear Doomed,

You are soon going to receive notice of a collection action for your unpaid Doctor bills. 

roadhazard's picture

The easy fix was to get the name/phone number/ext of the lady that said you Were covered and give that to your doctors office. Cuts out many middlemen, you don't need to do their job.

Bear's picture

That doesn't work anymore ... No one will talk directly to anyone

roadhazard's picture

Must be a rough life for the bear.

RichardP's picture

What good is what the lady said when it is the computer that determines whether the doctor gets paid or not?  And if the systems don't talk to each other, which they usually don't, the lady won't know what the computer who won't pay the doctor actually says.

There is no easy fix.  That's a feature.  Not a bug.  By those who designed it that way.

roadhazard's picture

Hey, don't do it. See if I care.

Polymarkos's picture

Ah, socialism....can you SUCK any worse?

ebworthen's picture

Yes, and it's worse than that.


spooz's picture

Yeah, because its crony capitalism pretending to be socialism.  Look at the rest of the developed world's systems to get an idea of what socialism looks like: universal care for less than half of what our profit driven system spends per capita when Big Pharma, corporate health care and insurers don't get a seat at the table. 

Its not clear whether it was Obama the traitor or the usual backroom deals that left public option out of the bill, or we may really have gotten a step closer to what the rest of the developed world has.  Instead we will have unneccesary suffering and financial distress for years to come before enough people see the inhumane profit driven system for what it is.

MrTouchdown's picture

Profits are signals. They tell the provider of the good or service whether he/she is doing the right thing and to what degree. Shame on you for trying to make it something it's not.

These others you mention currently operate by looking at how the US provides health and say, "Aha! We can provide what they are providing, so we know we must be good." Once the US system is completely dead, we'll be back to leaches and witch's brew the world over as innovation stops and the talented doctors all go into some other profession. You know - with profits.

ebworthen's picture

Why are you even paying for insurance?

The entire insurance/healthcare/.gov system is corrupt.

'Ere long you'll pay $2,000/month for a Doctor that learned online and never touched a human being.

Otto Zitte's picture

I will be that doctor. You must find the opportunity in every situation...

elwind45's picture

I hope the one good thing that comes out of this is men go to a doctor any doctor even if they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore still need a checkup?

drendebe10's picture

..... is that a picture of Laurel and Hardy?

Puncher75's picture

Mt brother works in the health insurance industry.  Whenever people almost pass out at hearing the increased premiums, increased deductibles, and worse coverage, he simply states 'This is what America voted for".  Democrats usually shut up at that point, Republicans loose their bacon, and the independents pretend they never voted for Obama.  Either way, they're all equally screwed.  Forward!! 

Carl Popper's picture

No we didnt!


We voted fo mo free shit n stuff

Puncher75's picture

Republians like Idiot Boehner should get busy making this left wing nightmare of a program "better".  You see, Republican progressives are better at managing destructive and "doomed to fail" programs than Democrat progressives, the ones who inflict these programs on you, are.  See how this works?

elwind45's picture

In the interest of helping digest the soured grapes of past half dozen years McCain/Romney or Romney/McCain your choice (
which is better than the trickledown from the R's past two cycle)
In order to get the controls you need a driver:hint/any warm body on the right if possible?

spooz's picture

Sorry independents who voted for Obama on his health care promises wish that our government would look at why the rest of the world is able to provide low cost quality health care to all citizens while our oligarchy seeks ways to milk blood from what is left of the middle class.

The obvious solution is and always will be universal health care, providing for the general welfare of citizens. For starters, how about we open up some more medical schools so those underemployed college graduates can contribute to national welfare while they earn solid incomes? There are so many common sense solutions to our health care crisis, but the oligarchs steer the dialog to create a two tiered system where most are thrown under the bus.

 Universal care was what I thought I voted for before I realized voting duopoly was voting for status quo corporate rule (on steroids, under Obama the "socialist")


malek's picture

Intriguing how some folks dare to declare something and anything as obvious when in fact it's complete bullshit.

Abbie Normal's picture

And the bold emphasis makes it even more obvious.

moneybots's picture

"The obvious solution is and always will be universal health care, providing for the general welfare of citizens."


The obvious solution is a truly free market health care system.


There is no universal health care, just as the Affordable Healthcare Act, isn't. 

RichardP's picture

The obvious solution is a truly free market health care system.

Since we have never had one of those, how can you possibly know that it is any solution at all?

Puncher75's picture

Yea, "universal" health care is the answer.  One questiuon, "Where is the origin of that debt?" How is it that I OWE someone else their health care "right" and must be forced to pay their way?  If that's the case, I want someone to pay for my new AR-15 rifle.  I have a 2nd Amendment right afterall. 

spooz's picture

There needn't be debt to finance public health if we can back off on our imperialist military excursions.

And you go, girl, with your AR-15 against the drone warfare our police state will have in hand, thanks to that bloated military budget.

moneybots's picture

"There needn't be debt to finance public health if we can back off on our imperialist military excursions."


History tends not to comply with such notions.  Wilson didn't plan on WW1 and Roosevelt didn't plan on WW2 when he was elected in 1932.

When Clinton was President, he proposed paid family leave, which could be paid out of unemployment insurance, as the economy was booming at the time and thus some of that money wasn't being spent.  Guess what happened to unemployment spending in 2008?

Cutting military spending should not be for the purpose of spending it somewhere else, as it is 100% guaranteed that there will be a future war, thus public health spending will become debt financed.



spooz's picture

The US spends more than double per capita on health care in comparison to other OECD countries, all of whom have some form of Universal health care.  Instead of looking at world models that are working, we tweaked the crony capitalist system we had, using the Heritage Foundation model, to make sure the main agenda of looting national wealth while throwing ever more of the former "middle class" under the bus remained intact.

We already have a two tiered justice and education system, health care was the next opportunity to get US citizens used to being global worker units. The redundant will die early and decrease the surplus population. Aged workers are a liability and weak health care support will support the invisible hand of our markets God, which insists on maximizing profits with a blind eye on any moral obligations to the people who live with the outcomes of capitalist end games.  The economic royalists will make do with robots and wage slaves to do the work while they remind themselves that its good to be king.

elwind45's picture

McCain or Romney and you were saying?

rwe2late's picture

 The` article is a justified denunciation of Obamacare.

But remember, Obamacare law was written by and passed in collusion with Big Pharma and the Healthscam Insurance industry.

Blaming the average government workers for being unable to make an unworkable  fraud into the opposite and work beneficially is UNjustified. Most state workers do their best to fairly administer bad laws, but sometimes it is just impossible to do.

Nor does it make sense to blame the average insurance clerks in the 'private' sector for Obamacare shortfalls.

Nor does it make sense to blame the average government employee in the armed forces for the destructive wars and the wasteful MIC.

Nor does it make sense to blame the average voter for the TBTF handouts.

Doing so is a diversion from identifying the real sources of those problems.

[Yes, we all have some blame for our roles as cogs in the machine. But it is a different order of blame than that deserved for those who operate the levers, and direct the operations.]

malek's picture

Folks like you and, let's face it, the article writer (at least when he started his healthcare excursion) are still holding on for dear life to the belief "most of those involved are trying their best to make it work."

I call complete BULLSHIT.

Most workers, and the percentage is increasing by each month, just try to grab the biggest piece of the pie while the game is still on.
Everything else in the vast amount of cases "take the easy way" or even pure CYA, putting a few sparse stakes down as a screen for "plausible deniability."

Until you are able to open your eyes and not always (and not even mostly) expect a true best effort, and act accordingly yourself plus demand rules/laws to cover and get applied to the far-from-best efforts, the situation won't improve.

TBT or not TBT's picture

You don't state the causality of the "collusion", you just state an association. Well Democrat machines start all collusion with the private sector, with a series of threats, of regulation, taxation, prosecution, and so on. That's the dance and the Dem machine leads said dance, because government is far more powerful than any given industry. They're bigger and stronger, but not graceful or agile. Their moves throw the private industry dancers around in pirouettes of charm and guile, trying to look better than competitors to the brute leading the dance. Dem machines like the Chicago one reigning in DC currently have an MO: Nice little business you have there, it would be a shame if something were to happen to it. The insurance and health care providing businesses and employers threatened by this demagogic bunch of fascist fucks danced frenetically. We saw that from the financial industry a number of times even before 2008. Obama got enormously more support from the big banks and financial sector for his 08 campaign precisely for this reason. He and his Chicago cronies have been in the "nice business you have there" business since the Clinton era enforcement of the CRA with help of ACORN with a younger Obama's direct involvement.

disabledvet's picture

You should have seen the ordeal i had to go through after being attacked by a Grizzly Bear! And i already had insurance!

Apparently there was a clause in the contract "subject to revision in case of Bear Attack."


Nay, veerily...it included ALL bears...and even sub-species of bear, even knowingly extinct bears "due to the recent advances in genetics."

They said if it had been a Llamma i would have been okay. I tried to push for Al Pacca's but they wouldn't go there.

JosephStrummer's picture

Love the tiny print in insurance contracts..........

completely related yet seldomely discussed is the new ICD10 coding for medical bills rolling out this fall.  It should give the big medical/big insurance 1,000,000 more reasons filled with tiny print to NOT pay for your medical services due to grizzly bear/llama/troll attacks.

RichardP's picture

... the new ICD10 coding for medical bills rolling out this fall.

Come on Joseph - you know better than to say that.  Don't you??


ICD-10 has been delayed to "not before October 1, 2015".  Which means that it might be delayed until ICD-11.