This blog post is about 2 years overdue, but, just like I say about remembering to bathe my kids, better late than never.
Back in 2016, a few months after Lucy was born I wrote a blog post. It was called The Global OB Fee Trap: How to Find and Fight It. It was a very long-winded rant about how my insurance company at the time incorrectly (err, illegally) processed my prenatal care claims and how I bitched at them for long enough that they eventually paid them.
I wrote the post because I was broke and angry and on maternity leave, which is when I typically sleep little enough that I have time to do things like write blog posts. I assumed nobody would read it because everyone knows our healthcare system is fucked and nobody wants to listen to one more hormonal mother rant about it.
Apparently I am not the only broke and angry mama bear out there. Within a few months the post started ranking in Google search for any and all terms related to Global OB or maternity billing. And apparently people search for those terms kind of a lot.
The comments and messages started pouring in from moms, dads and parents to be – telling me they were facing the same issues and asking for advice on how to fight their insurance companies. I was overwhelmed and out of my league because I am not a lawyer, I am not a doctor, and I don’t play either of those things on TV (but hey – hire me!).
Add to that the incredible complexity of each individual insurance plan and company, each state, and each state agency’s differing interpretation of the absurdly vague and constantly changing Affordable Care Act requirements. I felt helpless.
So I did what I always do when I feel lost and confused. I Googled it.
Seriously I Googled the shit out of the ACA, Harvard Pilgrim, benefits administration, healthcare laws, preventative care guidelines. Pretty sure I now know more about the ACA and healthcare administration than any of our elected officials and DEFINITELY more than the leader of the free world. *Facepalm*
And you know what happened? I got fucking pissed. Because I realized how many woman were getting blatantly screwed by their insurance companies during a time in their lives (postpartum) when they especially don’t want to be screwed by ANYONE – including their significant other. Take the hint, guys.
So I did what any over-parented only child would do and I called my dad. I raged for like 20 minutes until he was like, WTF are you calling me for – call someone that makes the rules. Which is when I got that really sad feeling that you get every time you’re like “Moooooooom what’s for dinner?” And then you realize you are the mom. Adulting really is the worst.
But eventually I got over my sad, entitled and pathetic Millennial self and called my State Senator, Cathy Breen. She ignored me, but I don’t blame her because she probably gets like 100 emails a day from people whining about how much their insurance costs.
So I emailed her like 450 more times until one of her staffers was finally like, please Cathy, go meet with this girl so she will stop harassing us. This is how I have achieved most things in life, so, sorry to every customer service or support person I have ever interacted with!
I met with Cathy at a local cafe for coffee, and she was very nice and I think a little surprised at the depth of research that I presented to her regarding the Global OB billing scam that insurance companies are pulling on postpartum moms. Similar to me, her first reaction was “we can’t be the first people to discover this – there must already be some kind of legislation in progress.” I assured her that if there was, it was not on Google, and accepted her offer to “look into it” and “get back to me.”
Now, I speak public servant pretty fluently and I know that that is code for, please forget about it. But to Cathy’s credit (who was just recently re-elected – yay!) she DID look into it and she DID get back to me. In fact, she contacted the state Attorney General and basically wrote a letter to Harvard Pilgrim asking if they were aware of the issue and pressuring them to cut that shit out.
All this took place over the course of like 5000 years (ok fine, like 6 months) but eventually Cathy and I received a letter from the Associate General Counsel of Harvard Pilgrim acknowledging their error, and informing us that it had been corrected. Here are a few of the more exciting excerpts from the letter:
When I received that letter I felt more victorious than when I originally convinced them to pay my Global OB bill. I did a little dance and of course called my dad who assured me that I was in fact, the greatest.
But despite my little victory dance I continued to receive emails every week from other parents in other states (and with other insurance companies) who were up against the same issues and feeling helpless. I have come to terms with the fact that I probably won’t be able to fight this on a national scale right now (although there are days where I get really fired up) but I do try to respond to each and every email, offering support, resources, whatever knowledge or advice I feel is relevant – and encouragement to fight the good fight, even if it feels unlikely to result in a win. Because it is going to take a village to fight this battle. A whole tribe of angry mamas (and dads!) putting the pressure on HARD.
And then last week I got this message from a new mom I had been chatting with months earlier on Instagram – and it felt like the biggest victory of all.
I literally did a happy dance right there at my bathroom sink. You guys – WE. CAN. DO THIS. We are doing this.
You know Millennials get blamed for basically everything that goes south these days – from napkins to fast food – even marriage. But here’s something else you can happily add to our hit list: bullshit insurance policies.
We are “just a bunch of Millennial moms” who are slowly, collaboratively and skillfully changing the healthcare landscape and beyond.
Watch. Out. Patriarchy.
These mamas are coming for you.