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Cumberland Co. couple struggling to get health insurance

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Since John and Sharon Burke found out in October they will lose their current health insurance plan, they’ve struggled to navigate the federal government’s new system, leading to frustrating phone calls and few answers.

The Burkes received a letter from Capital BlueCross in October informing them their policy doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act. When Sharon called the company, she found out if the Burkes want to stay with their insurance provider their bill will jump from $422 per month to at least $900 per month.

The Burkes were told they’d lose their current insurance as of January 1.

“So, the insurance we had is pretty good. But, now, we’re told we can’t have it,” said Sharon, who lives in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County.

John used to run a moving company that specialized in working with libraries. So, they’ve always purchased insurance privately. The Burkes said they’d been with Capital BlueCross for at least 20 years.

They can’t afford the rate increases they were quoted, so they turned to the new federal healthcare exchanges.

However, Sharon ran into trouble with healthcare.gov, as many other people have this fall. She started calling a hotline instead.

Her first call was in late October. She said she spent about 40 minutes giving her information to fill out an application. After that, she was supposed to receive a call back in two weeks and eventually receive quotes for a new plan.

That didn’t happen.

“Each time I’m taking a step back. I think I’m getting somewhere, and then something else happens,” said Sharon.

She decided to call back again and again and again.

Fast forward to December 5, and the Burkes still have been unable to get any quotes on a new insurance plan.  Sharon discovered during one call there was an error in how her information was recorded. She had to resubmit all of her information to start over again.

“Unfortunately, you can’t get the same person on the phone,” said John.

President Obama addressed the ongoing issues with the new health exchanges Tuesday.

“We’re just getting started with the exchanges, just getting started with the market places. So, we’re not going to walk away from it. If I’ve got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that’s what I’ll do,” said Obama.

Because of the problems people like the Burkes are facing, some insurers are giving people the option to continue to stay on their plans temporarily.

They received a letter from BlueCross Wednesday saying they have the option to keep their current plan at the price they’ve been paying until April 1.

Sharon said the letter eased some of the stress she and her husband have experienced. But, she’s still concerned about what happens in April and, ultimately, how much they’ll have to pay to get a new plan.

“I’ve just had a hospital stay three weeks ago. I was in the hospital for three days, and the bill was $15,000. Well, I need to have insurance. If this happens again, which it could happen to me again, I’ve got make sure I’m insured,” said Sharon.

1 Comment

  • pcpc

    isn't the REAL story that the AAC LAW no longer allows insurance companies to sell junk insurance? You "mentioned" "The Burkes received a letter from Capital BlueCross in October informing them their policy doesn’t comply with the Affordable Care Act." As a "reporter", doesn't that BEG THE QUESTION as to why that particular policy BCBS DOESN'T COMPLY? #reportORopine writing under the guise of reporting while pursuing a bias is clear lack of professional ethic. There IS a difference.

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