2009.10.09 10:04

A legal alien lost in American healthcare system

It start on August 22 2009, three days before I defended my dissertation. Because I wasn't registered for the fall semester at BU, I was no longer covered by Aetna chickering, the student healthcare plan that was paid by my department. I only found this out on the 28th, still in the excitement of completing, and as a tax-paying Massachusetts resident and a legal immigrant authorized to work in the US, I thought I should be able to get the benefit of COBRA or Masshealth. That was also what my department told me.

My new employer told me that my health insurance through them will be effective from October 1. So I wanted to find some way to be covered for the month of September.

I first called HR at BU then Aetna chickering to learn that I am not eligible for COBRA, because I had a student health insurance "paid by the department, which is my employer", but not an "employer sponsored health insurance".

I also asked Aetna chickering if there is any plan I can pay out of pocket and continue to be covered by them. They said no.

Then I started my search in Masshealth. Turns out, I am not eligible for Commonwealth care, because I am not a US citizen. More and more I look into this, I realized when the US government says "illegal immigrants" they really mean "any foreigners". I could not find any mention of "legal immigrants/aliens".

I started to lose hope about finding anything in the US. I called my parents in S. Korea to buy me a traveler's insurance for one month. A few days later, my mother called back and told me that she couldn't buy anything that is effective right away because I was already out of the country.

I looked back in Masshealth and found one option that covers immigrants, both illegal and legal. By this time I only had 3 weeks to go without insurance. Learning the process time of Masshealth is 2 weeks, I decided to go without insurance.

October came, and I finally selected my healthcare plan. Non of them impressed me and it just looked like having to select how to be restricted as I said earlier.

I have been waking up with migraine headaches for a while now. Today, I picked up my phone and called to make a first appointment with a primary care physician I found in my neighborhood, who I also had to check with all my healthcare options for coverage. (This idea that some company tells me which doctor I can go or not is totally absurd for me.)

I gave all my information and was about to make an appointment. Then the receptionist told me that they can't find my information in Blue Cross Blue Shield yet.

She didn't make an appointment for me. I have to wait until my card arrives and they can confirm that I am indeed in BCBS system.

I did not stop working for a single day. I was a research assistant at Boston University until Sep 25 Friday, and senior research fellow at Mass Eye and Ear from Sep 28 Monday. And I do not have access to healthcare for 50 days as of today.
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