The View From Your Sickbed

A reader writes

I should be one of the guys conservatives want to help. I started a small consulting business in 2008 - the third time I’ve struck out on my own. The last time I did so, in 2003, I was on COBRA from a previous employer at $365/mo. Now, I’m on COBRA from my last employer at $792/mo. Various insurance complexities contribute to that difference, including the fact that I’m the only ex-employee of my last company living in California, so I’m an “out of state” member. In October, my COBRA will run out. I’ve been flooded with email from insurance companies encouraging me to apply.

I’m a very healthy 45-year-old, and I’m HIV-positive. My meds work great: no viral load, healthy t-cells. Aside from this, nothing wrong. But I can’t miss even a day in coverage, because the list price for my HIV meds is $1,798/month.

So far, I can handle the $792/mo COBRA, but it certainly puts a damper on my profits. I decided to try and end-run the application game, knowing I’d be rejected. Every rep encouraged me to apply anyway, but applications can take hours to complete – who has all that time? I started telling them upfront I was HIV-positive. None had any advice, save “there might be some California state plan you can apply for…” There’s no central source of information about this, nor does any private insurer have any incentive to help me find a plan – I’m uninsurable. The hours I’ve wasted searching for an answer are turning into weeks. Even those of us that can bite the bullet and tap savings to pay for private plans simply can’t get them.

So if I hear one more Republican blowhard babble on about rationing or government takeovers or the effects on small business, I just might have a plasma TV to replace. I’m as leery as anyone about government programs, but I have zero confidence that our private-sector-loving conservative representatives will be able to enforce any of their promised new controls and restrictions on private plans.