I need to vent. Please excuse me.
I pay $1,100 a month for my health insurance (not mine and my wife’s but just mine) because, as you might think, I am considered a high risk. My wife and I were paying $1,000 a month for both of us while on Cobra. (She is now on Medicare.) But the insurance company (an HMO) was forced to accept me because they can not turn you down when you convert your Cobra policy upon expiration. So they merely charged this exorbitant premium, hoping to frighten me off because how many people can afford to pay that amount? Thank God for 401K's. I have been paying this since January 2011 and will continue to pay it until May 2012 when I can get on Medicare (along with Social Security, considered an "entitlement" nowadays). You would think that with high premiums like this I would pay a small copay. $40.
Because I have no income other than my Social Security now, I am eligible for VA health benefits. Four years in the military, 2-1/2 in Vietnam. So why not? I'm taking a chance that I won’t have any health problems over the next 5 months. I'm not exactly keen on trusting my health to the VA. But I'd save myself about $6,000.
So I applied on Nov. 22 and was told that it should take 7 to 14 business days. I started calling the D.C. VA Medical Center 4 days ago. I wait 15 minutes “in line” only to be forwarded to a recording that tells me to leave a message – they don’t even identify themselves. Just “Leave a message.” So you have to wait 15 minutes to get to the recording! I left a message but, surprise, nobody returned my call. Sometimes it just rings and I don’t even get a recording. I had a rep at the VA main office try to get hold of somebody there and even she couldn’t do it. In frustration, she forwarded my call to the same number I have been dialing for days (without tell me she was going to do so). Surprise again -- nobody answered. I called the operator there and asked “is anybody working in the Eligibility Department?” He didn’t answer but connected me to the same line that just rang and rang and rang. I tried again and got another operator and asked him the same question. He said they weren’t answering because it was almost closing time (it was 4:25 pm). Meanwhile nobody has been answering since Friday morning.
If this is an example of the quality of government customer service I can imagine what the medical care might be like. No wonder the post officed is broke. Maybe I should just eat the $6,000 and stay with my current doctors.
Thanks for listening.