Las Vegas resident Larry Basich began the laborious process of signing up for Obamacare in October of 2013 when the Nevada state healthcare exchange went live. Like other state exchanges and the now infamously flawed Healthcare.gov, the Nevada Health Link site was a nightmare to negotiate and fraught with technical errors. In fact, the site was so complicated that Basich compared it to negotiating the harder levels of the video game “Doom.” After numerous attempts to sign up for coverage, it was not until November that Basich was finally able to choose a “silver” level plan issued by UnitedHealthcare. Basich was billed for the coverage and paid his premiums via auto withdrawals from his bank. In early 2014, due to a medical emergency he sought lifesaving medical care. One can only imagine his shock when he was billed $407,000 for that care and advised that in fact, his medical coverage was not yet in effect due to a flaw in the system.
The initial premium payment withdrawn from Basich’s account was before the December 23, 2013 deadline and his coverage was supposed to be in effect on January 1, 2014. Basich jumped through all the hoops the state health exchange required and when he sought confirmation of his coverage, Nevada Health Link reassured him that he had medical insurance. However, at the same time, UnitedHealthcare claimed they could not find Basich in their system. UnitedHealthcare did not issue Basich an insurance card or policy packet despite his having signed up for and paid the premiums for their “MyHPNSilver1” plan through the state exchange.
On December 31, 2013, while in the midst of sorting out the mix-up, Basich had a heart attack. He needed medical attention and on January 3, 2014 underwent triple bypass surgery to save his life. He believed at the time that he had medical insurance based on the assurance provided by Nevada Health Link, which now appears to have been seriously flawed information. UnitedHealthcare claims they are not liable for Basich’s medical coverage and Zerox, the contractor for the state exchange Nevada Health Link, has lawyered up ostensibly to avoid liability as well. This leaves the 62-year-old Las Vegas resident who diligently followed the Obamacare guidelines to obtain “affordable care” and paid his premiums, stuck in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare. This nightmare is causing him undue mental, emotional and financial stress to the tune of $407,000 in medical bills, money that he does not have and if the facts are as reported, should not owe. On top of that, the stress of the situation is potentially complicating his medical health.
Zerox further claims that Basich chose a different health care insurance provider despite the fact that he has the confirmation paperwork showing he signed up for the “MyHPNSilver1” silver plan. In what would appear to be a tactic to avoid financial outlay, Zerox is attempting to assign responsibility for the medical coverage to Nevada Health CO-OP but the CO-OP claims they have no record of Basich ever being in their system.
Tamar Burch, the insurance broker for Branch Benefits Consultants that advised Basich says that Xerox needs to realize their role is limited to that of an administrator, not an insurance company. Burch believes Basich is at the mercy of the contractor Zerox, and says the administrator clearly has no understanding of its “boundaries” much less the world of insurance. Regardless of the “he said, she said” nature of this bureaucratic Obamacare nightmare, the mix-up leaves average consumer Basich on the hook for $407,000 in medical bills. The ugly reality may be that the signup system for Obamacare on both the national and state level is so flawed consumers cannot trust that they have medical coverage, even if they have the paperwork and the premium payments to prove it.
By Alana Marie Burke
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