Anthem Blue Cross may stink, but this still smells fishy...
(Note: I said Anthem may stink. Then again, maybe they don't. That's kind of the point of this entry)
The following letter to the editor appeared in yesterday's Fresno Bee, supposedly written by a "William Haskel of Fresno, California":
I signed up for Anthem Blue Cross to meet the May deadline. My previous employer also was Anthem Blue Cross, with prescription drug benefits. As I am starting a new business, I chose to go with Covered California through Anthem Blue Cross. The same company, without the drug coverage — or so I thought. Here's what I got:
Cost $845 a month, $5,000 deductible.
Family physician doesn't take the plan.
Wife's gynecologist doesn't take the plan.
Dermatologist doesn't take the plan.
Dentist doesn't take the Covered California dental plan.
So for $10,140 in annual premiums and $5,000 deductible, I am now searching for new doctors for my family.
Anthem Blue Cross sent me a list of doctors who supposedly take this plan. I called two doctors from the list. Both phone numbers were incorrect. One doctor wasn't accepting new patients, and the other wasn't in family practice, despite the fact that the list said he was a family physician.
So I pay the unsubsidized, full amount of health care for my family, and for that privilege, I am subsidizing those who don't pay, and so far, I cannot find physicians who accept Anthem Blue Cross/Covered California.
This set off the BS detector of a commentor named Charles Ashley, who noted:
This looks suspiciously like a template letter. Just to check, I Googled a few lines, and up jumped exactly the same text on this page.
So maybe Mr. Haskell published the letter on this web site when it appeared "5 days ago." The poster, with handle Caddis, claims to have cut and pasted the letter from a "local rag"--not the Bee apparently, unless we are caught in a time warp. Doesn't the Bee have a policy of not allowing letters published elsewhere to be published in the Bee?
Worst case scenario, Mr. Haskell cut and pasted someone else's letter from the linked site and sent it into the Bee. If this is what actually happened, the letter is plagiarized--stolen.
I didn't think much of it at first, but ran my own check and also found the following entry over at Yelp...except that this time it was supposedly written by a "Bill H. of Tiburon, California":
So, I signed up for Anthem Blue Cross to meet the May deadline. My previous employer also was Anthem Blue Cross, with prescription drug benefits. As I am starting a new business, I chose to go with Covered CA, thru Anthem Blue Cross. The same company, without the drug coverage--or so I thought. Here's what I got:
1. Cost $845.00/mo $5000.00 deductible.
2. Family Physician-- Dr Kiran Reddy- doesn't take Anthem Blue Cross/Covered CA
3. Wife's gynecologist- Dr R. Steinke-doesn't take Anthem Blue Cross/CoveredCA
4. Dermatologist- Dr. David Taylor doesn't take Anthem Blue Cross/Covered CA
5. Dentist- Dr Lou Cohen- Doesn't take the Covered CA dental plan
So for $10,140 annual premiums and $5000.00 deductible, I am now searching for all new doctors for my family. I had been with my family physician for about 14 years. Anthem Blue Cross sent me a list of doctors who supposedly take this "plan". I called 2 doctors from the "list". Both phone numbers were incorrect. One doctor was not accepting new patients, and the other was not in family practice- despite the fact that the "list" said he was a family physician.
So I pay the unsubsidized, full amount of health care for my family, and for that privilege, I am subsidizing those who don't pay, and so far, I cannot find physicians who accept "Anthem Blue Cross/Covered CA".
This is the biggest scam of my lifetime.
Virtually identical wording from start to finish; the only difference is that the names of the physicians are included in this one.
In addition, as Ruth37 notes, if he's not receiving any subsidies (as he/they claim), that means they could have simply purchased the same plan (or a very similar one) off of the exchange, but they chose not to.
Finally, there's something else to keep in mind here: Unless CoveredCA posted false information about the Anthem policy, it seems to me that even if true, this guys' beef should be with Anthem or the doctors who are refusing to accept the policy, not with CoveredCA.
Don't get me wrong; I have heard reliable evidence that narrow networks and confusion about which doctors are accepting ACA plans has indeed been a significant problem in California. However, just like with the infamous Koch Bros-backed "Obamacare Sob Story" attack ads, if there really are that many people who have been screwed over by ACA policies, why do they have to keep making up fake ones (or at best, keep recycling the same one as if it's from someone else)?
UPDATE: Someone has pointed out that it's certainly possible that "William Haskel" and "Bill H." could be the same person (William/Bill) who simply moved from Tiburon to Fresno and didn't update his Yelp account. Fair enough.
However, someone else has noted that:
@charles_gaba Fishy indeed, as only pediatric dental plans were offered through Covered Ca xchange in 1st enrollment period.
— Lisa LEH (@hop_lisa) September 4, 2014
Hmmm...of course I suppose he could have been referring to a dentist for his kids.
I'll let this one go for now.