Stamped receipt of this applicant’s ACA-spurred health insurance application submitted at an HRA Medical Assistance Unit in Brooklyn, N.Y.
By Valerie Seckler
This week, one U.S. citizen’s application for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act entered the land of the absurd.
It landed there in a return visit to a Brooklyn, N.Y., office of New York State’s Human Resources Administration Thursday, with an HRA stamped, signed receipt in hand for my ACA/New York State of Health-spurred insurance application. Just as instructed by an HRA supervisor at window 7 in a visit to the Clinton Hill facility Wednesday.
Nonethless, HRA staff still did not convey what “information/documentation required by this agency to establish your eligibility” could be missing from my application and delaying receipt of Emblem Health insurance. The application submitted on Nov. 6 is nine pages long. The several supporting documents asked were included when dropping off the paperwork to window 18 at HRA’s Brooklyn offices after a three-hour wait. Emblem is one of eight health insurance plans green-lighted for this applicant in the first part of applying for coverage, at the New York State of Health website (http://bit.ly/123vj0V). Medicaid funds finance these plans, in part, an aspect of the Affordable Care Act.
The failure to communicate and advance the process was doubly strange considering that eligibility granted for financially assisted health insurance came one month earlier via the Affordable Care Act at New York’s new online insurance marketplace. The eligibility nod triggered HRA’s mailing of the Access NY paper insurance application — currently stuck in a mire of information void. For now, it is classified as rejected, a status delivered only seven work days after it was submitted and before any additional information asked could be provided.
In a local conference Tuesday to remedy the problem, at an HRA office in downtown Brooklyn, an advisor said it ought to be simple to resolve. An additional form might be sought or something already submitted could have been lost in the system’s massive paperwork shuffle, Mr. Lu noted. He advised to simply ask an HRA supervisor or section director in Clinton Hill what else is needed. “They have it all there,” Lu said when asked if anything ought to be brought in the return trip.
Unfortunately, the staff with whom I spoke at the HRA Medical Assistance unit Wednesday repeatedly summarized their notice’s content (“incomplete application”) rather than stating what additional information could still be needed. They made false and repeated claims that this applicant did not submit an application. They raised repeated questions as to whether I had done so. They said there is no HRA office in downtown Brooklyn and there is no Mr. Lu. In the end, HRA staff said that unless I returned with a stamped front-page receipt, there was no way to know if they had my application. Really? “Mission Impossible” comes to mind.
Instead of relaying what additional information is needed to obtain health insurance, in a return visit Thursday, Mrs. Johnson, an HRA supervisor, said:
1. You don’t have your entire health insurance application on hand. [The one submitted Nov. 6 at this very office in Brooklyn? Yep. The one I was not asked to bring in again when asked Wednesday to return with the application’s stamped front-page receipt? Yep.]
2. The HRA Medical Assistance unit in Brooklyn “doesn’t process” health insurance applications, it only accepts them. [But it does mail applicants notices asking for more information.]
3. Nov. 15 is very soon to receive a rejection notice for a health insurance application submitted Nov. 6. [Progress! I thought so too, since the approval process typically takes 45 days-60 days.]
4. “I’m done with you.”
5. “You only want to talk.”