How long does it take to establish residency in a Socialist country?
I am so, so tired of getting screwed around by big companies.
I have spent at least five hours on the phone with Carefirst arguing over who has my health insurance and why can’t I have it. At first, I discovered it had been completely and illegally cancelled without any sort of COBRA notification, only to find out three days later that that’s actually legal as long as they mail me the paperwork and promise to turn it back on with no lapse if I just give them 50% of our current income because really, it’s no problem to increase the premiums by more than 50% while at the same time losing half our income, right?
So I asked about individual plans and got the run around for quite a while until I finally managed to track someone down who could transfer me to Sales and Marketing (because, you see, if I am applying for a new plan, I am no longer an existing customer, but am now once again a NEW customer; nevermind that I have been with Carefirst for five years on four different plans). And so they transfer me yet again, only to discover it is now 5:02 on Friday and Sales goes home at 5.
That must be nice.
After a whole entire weekend of waiting and nail-biting (and seriously, these nails are fabulous, so it’s really not fair to chew them), I finally get to talk to Sales on Monday, at which point the first of the seven people who I have spoken to mentions that, yeah, I could get you on that plan but not until you’re uninsured for at least a month, but oh by the way it won’t cover pregnancy anyways. None of them will. Didn’t you know that? Also, she hung up on me.
During all of this time on the phone, I have probably cried about fifteen times. See, here’s the thing about pregnancy hormones: it’s not that I’m emotional, it’s that I just feel everything REALLY STRONGLY. And when I feel things REALLY STRONGLY, said emotions have a tendency to come out of my eyes because they have nowhere else to go. I’m actually rather proud of how well I’ve held it together, finding out I am not only unemployed and pregnant, but unemployed, uninsured, and pregnant. Oh, right. And not just uninsured, but uninsurable.
I called the Maryland Health Insurance Plan, whose phone line is staffed with people who are really lovely but hampered by quite a lot of red tape. The upshot is that I could qualify for a plan because I was disqualified due to pregnancy, but only after the COBRA election period has expired, because having to pay 50% of your income qualifies as having access to a health insurance option (in the interest of saving rant space, we’ll just let that one go). In other words, I have to wait seven weeks to apply and then another five to actually get insurance, which is a total of twelve weeks AKA three months to get insurance that will cover pregnancy, a condition which only lasts for a total of forty weeks, AKA nine months. So I need to wait A WHOLE TRIMESTER. They do understand that pregnancy is a *temporary* condition, right? Because really, if I were very much further along in the process, I would nearly have to wait until I was no longer pregnant to be covered for being pregnant. At which point I could just apply for the insurance I’m being denied.
So my best option to get covered for health insurance is to get a new employer-sponsored health plan. Except I am now visibly pregnant, enough so that I got asked by the lovely lady at the farm stand when the blessed event was. And I said, September, which is why I would like some of your local honey because I am denied my anti-histamines and it appears to be one of the nastier allergy seasons out there. And she said here you go at a fabulous price, and also would you like some local asparagus?
Ahem. I digress.
So I am now quite visibly pregnant, having been asked three times in the past three days by different people who do not know me well enough to notice a change in silhouette. Which means as soon as I walk into an interviewer’s office, the first thing that will leap out to them is not my witty banter, nor my competent air of organization. Oh no, his or her first thought will be, “MATERNITY LEAVE. OH HELL NO.” And then out I will be, still unemployed.
Never mind that I’m unemployed because of an employer who oh-so-illegally created an extremely hostile work environment enough so that not one but *two* long time employees pointed out they were trying to force me out. And yet, I live in a state where corporations are being courted for their headquarters locations (and associated taxes, or really lack thereof, because who taxes corporations anymore anyways?), so even if I had a MOUNTAIN of evidence (of which I only have a small, well-documented mole-hill), I could not actually take them to court and succeed in getting anything other than a pat on the head and a “Hurrah, nice try.”
So today, we took my unemployed, uninsured pregnant self down to look at car seats because what I should have spent the afternoon doing was looking at grainy black and white pictures of my insides and finding out whether it’s a little boy or a little girl who is currently screwing up my life but will someday make me oh so very happy but instead I have been jerked around by insurance companies and had to reschedule for a week and a half later (which doesn’t sound very long, but seriously, it hurts, ok?). And by pure sheer happenstance luck, we ran into an amazing lady who does not actually work for the company but used to in the SAFETY department and currently is a CAR SEAT SAFETY TECH. And while she is not allowed to make any particular recommendations on a particular brand and/or model, she could very firmly point us in the direction of the appropriate safety studies (or lack thereof) and not-suggest-but-you-know-what-I-mean a couple things to research. And most importantly, she could answer my ever-burning question of why can I not find any blasted SAFETY data on a car seat (I do not care how well it fits in a shopping cart; how well does it prevent INJURY and DEATH while inside a CAR? I want a CAR seat, not a SHOPPING CART seat. But while we’re at it, does anyone happen to know if the shopping carts are actually tested for their baby safeness?)
If you’ve read through the rest of this rant, I’m sure you can probably guess the reason. Because, in this country, (say it with me now) corporations have more rights than individuals. So when data came out that six child seats went flying off their bases, NHTSA was not allowed to publicize which models. Oh, also, NHTSA is not actually responsible for most of the testing. I think. I’m a little fuzzy on that, because in my research, I have actually yet to figure out who IS responsible for safety testing of car seats. I think it might be the manufacturers, and we all know how well that works within the food industry.
And so now I’m awake after having been asleep for only about three hours because I’m having dreams comparing the relative safety of a convertible carseat versus a food processor, since really, that’s about the level of safety data we have out there, and honestly, I could put my child in a crock pot strapped to the back seat as long as it’s rear-facing, because WHO HAS ANY DATA TO PROVE ME WRONG?
Oh, did I mention our power got cut off today? It turned out it was for routine maintenance, but we were concerned it was for nonpayment since, well, we haven’t gotten a bill since November and they can’t tell us where our bill is or who’s been paying it. They’ll get back to us on that one.