Confusion for West Knox Co. woman after signing up for Obamacare

Confusion for West Knox County woman after signing up for Obamacare

Posted:
Patty Stinnett has colon cancer. For weeks, her husband Vernon tried to sign her up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Patty Stinnett has colon cancer. For weeks, her husband Vernon tried to sign her up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
It wasn't until last month that he successfully got her enrolled and bought her a plan through the marketplace site. It wasn't until last month that he successfully got her enrolled and bought her a plan through the marketplace site.
"They called us Friday and told her not to come in Monday because we had no insurance. It just blew me away. It's so frustrating. She doesn't need to be dealing with this stress," said Vernon. "They called us Friday and told her not to come in Monday because we had no insurance. It just blew me away. It's so frustrating. She doesn't need to be dealing with this stress," said Vernon.
"I'm going to go to UT. Either that or I sit here and die. Simple as that," said Patty. "I'm going to go to UT. Either that or I sit here and die. Simple as that," said Patty.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - An East Tennessee woman with cancer is having trouble after signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Initially, she believed she'd be able to stay with her doctor, but that turned out not to be the case.

Retired dairy worker Vernon Stinnett put some extra logs on the fire last week as his wife Patty and their two grandchildren snuggled to keep warm.

Patty has colon cancer. For weeks, Vernon tried to sign her up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

It wasn't until last month that he successfully got her enrolled and bought her a plan through the marketplace site.

Since her cancer was diagnosed nearly three years ago, Patty had minimum insurance with CoverTN, designed for the state's working uninsured.

When Vernon was finally able to find insurance under Obamacare, their anxiety ended, but only briefly.

The couple figured everything was okay when a letter arrived from Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Patty's new provider.

"Your coverage starts on 1/1/2014," said Patty as she read the letter. It was written before Christmas.

For nearly three years, Patty has been receiving chemotherapy at Covenant Health's Ft. Loudoun Medical Center near their home in West Knox County.

However, Patty's first visit was canceled on January 3 under the new insurance plan.

"They called us Friday and told her not to come in Monday because we had no insurance. It just blew me away. It's so frustrating. She doesn't need to be dealing with this stress," said Vernon.

They eventually discovered what went wrong. Patty must make a monthly payment of $457. Vernon says he mailed the money the day after Christmas.

"They said until the payment is deposited, she really does not have insurance," said Vernon.

It turned out that the payment had not been deposited before the new year, so Patty missed her therapy on January 3. Since then, however, the deposit has gone through.

There is yet another snag. 

"Your health care plan number is G08E," read Patty. "My doctor will not accept this insurance because it is 'E.'

Since they chose plan "E," Patty will no longer be able to visit her doctors with Covenant Health. She'll have to travel 25 miles east to UT Medical Center and the cancer unit there.

"Only place where we can use it is at UT Hospital. It is no offense to them. We thought we could pick or choose, or stay with who she has," said Vernon.

So what happened? Why does she have to change doctors and hospital?

Blue Cross/Blue Shield told 6 On Your Side there are three primary blue networks, but one is exclusive to people signed up under the Affordable Care Act.

Network P is the largest with the highest premium and widest access to doctors and hospitals.

Blue Network S has average premiums and access to a select list of doctors and hospitals.

Network E is only sold on the health insurance marketplace. It provides the lowest premiums and is limited to specific doctors and hospitals.

"I didn't know to ask these questions about E, S and P in the beginning," said Vernon. "No one knew or could tell me anything."

They know the difference now and wanted to tell their story so others would be aware. Patty's first visit to her new cancer center is Thursday, January 16.

"I'm going to go to UT. Either that or I sit here and die. Simple as that," said Patty. 

Blue Cross/Blue Shield told Patty and Vernon that if they had contacted them first, Plan E would have been explained.

But Vernon had bought the plan through the health care site and did not go through a broker.

Patty does have insurance, though, and for that she is grateful.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.