“How can it be anything else but fraud?” a political wonk posted on Twitter yesterday after MPR’s Tom Scheck broke the story that 3,100 family members of state workers have been removed from state health insurance coverage because they are ineligible.
Catherine McDonnell-Forney of Minneapolis can easily answer the question.
McDonnel-Forney, whose husband has worked for the Department of Vehicle Services since 2007, is eligible for health care coverage. But she only found out she’d been dropped when she went to the pharmacy earlier this month.
“We did not find out until I went to fill a prescription after the first of August and was told I had no insurance and would have to play the full price,” she told me today. “We still didn’t receive notice until about a week after the first of the month.”
How did she end up in this situation?
“Employees were asked to have paperwork submitted by the middle of June. Employees were sent an email and then four reminder correspondence to their homes. We were asked to submit our wedding certificate, our daughter’s birth certificate and a utility bill. The paperwork was sent before the deadline,” she said.
Her husband turned in the documentation on time, she says, but the outside consulting firm that the state employed to conduct the audit says it didn’t receive the paperwork. Scheck’s story indicated 770 families reportedly didn’t turn in the documentation.
“I work for a small nonprofit with only six employees and we are not offered health insurance, so my daughter and I are dependent upon my husband’s health insurance policy,” Ms. McDonnel-Forney said in her e-mail to me. “Because we weren’t notified until after the beginning on the month, I was not able to get any health insurance for the month of August. We will hopefully be able to be covered from September 1st through January 1st when we can be added back on to my husband’s policy and hopefully won’t need to go to the doctor or the emergency room for any reason.”
She says they appealed the decision that tossed them off health care, but it was rejected.
“We got a letter saying that we failed to qualify and that we were eligible for COBRA, which we are not taking because it’s obscenely expensive,” she said.
Instead, she’ll pay $175 a month for a Blue Cross policy with a $9,000 deductible that will cover routine care.
“I’m mostly anxious not being covered for the next 2 1/2 weeks. You don’t plan accidents, ” she said.
“What makes me so mad is the shabby manner in which a dedicated employee is being treated and I’m sure that the public reaction is that we were defrauding the state and stealing tax dollars.”