Archive for November 24th, 2008

Change in Plans.

Let me back up.

I’ve been working at my current job as a subcontractor to BIG LARGE CORPORATION (BLC) since January. As a subcontractor, I did not have medical benefits (or any benefits, for that matter), which was fine, because I have medical benefits through my husband’s employer. I was recently hired on as a regular employee with BLC. Before I agreed to explore permanent employment with BLC, I reviewed their benefits packages to see what I was in for, just to see if there was anything exciting about it. The corporation is based in a state that mandates fertility coverage so my hope/expecation was that they would cover fertility treatment. Alas, it appeared that BLC “self-insured” and it said quite clearly on their benefits summary data sheets that fertility coverage was specifically excluded from their plans.

In fact, the exact wording under “What is Not Covered” was:

Actual or attempted impregnation or fertilization including, but not limited to, in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, ZIFT, GIFT and injectables, except for initial diagnosis

That seems pretty clear that fertility treatment is excluded, no? However, when I was looking at the plan information back then, I was looking at information that described the BLC “Total Health Plan” which was pretty clearly a “self-insured” plan.

My first official day at BLC was last Monday and in my over-the-phone orientation with my HR manager (I work several states away from my manager), she kept talking about plans with Well Known Insurance Company (WKIC). I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how they were getting around my state’s mandated insurance coverage if they weren’t self-insuring. Over the weekend I finally got my benefits package in the mail and was able to access the website today with all of the plan data on it.

I searched and searched for the information about fertility coverage, but found nothing. NOTHING. Nothing about coverage, but also nothing about exclusions. What could this mean? I couldn’t find anything anwhere on the site that talked about plan exclusions at all. And the summary plan descriptions were pretty high-level and just didn’t give me enough information to know whether fertility treatment was covered.

Soooo…. I called the Benefits Service Center (BSC) at BLC and asked them if they had a listing anywhere of Plan Exclusions. The representative helping me had no idea what I was talking about and referred me to the summary plan descriptions. No, I countered, those are too high level and don’t really explain exactly what is covered, nor do they address plan exclusions. She didn’t have any further information for me, but would be happy to research the information for me and get back to me. Meanwhile, if I wanted, I could contact WKIC directly if I wanted. Oh! That would be lovely, thanks.

I called WKIC directly and spoke with an absolutely lovely representative who was happy to help me sort this all out. No, they didn’t have a list of plan exclusions, but was there a particular service I was looking to find out about? Ahem. Well, yeah, actually, there was. What about fertility treatment? Oh, well, fertility treatment is covered just like any other medical claim – same copay, coinsurance, deductible, etc. There’s a $100K cap on coverage for fertility treatment/medications, etc. A limit of 6 IUIs per lifetime. Limit of 3 IVFs per live birth. No coverage for ICSI or Assisted Hatching. No coverage for freezing or storage of embryos (this is pretty typical).

This is way better coverage than my husband has, particularly when you factor in that I’m not limited to the one clinic that is 40 miles away, which makes life logistically difficult. So the choice is clear. Or it should be. I mean, obviously, I’ll switch to BLC’s insurance pronto.

It’s just… Gosh. I’d really decided that I do like Dr. McBrusque. And that while his manner may not have been perfect, I did like that he was willing to hear me out and he was willing to think about doing single embryo transfers despite the fact that he’s never done them before, and the fact that he had an innovative solution to the hyperstimulation problem. I liked that he called me himself about the metformin/breastfeeding problem. The things I didn’t like were basically out of his control. With Dr. McBrusque, I have a protocol laid out, a timeline set, and all I have to do is wait for my next period, and we’re ready to get started as soon as the first of the year rolls around.

I don’t deal well with change. So obviously, I’ll change plans and start over, but it’s going to mean delays and changing mindsets and reorganizing my thoughts, so it’s going to mean a bit of whinging on my part. I apologise in advance.

So here’s the current plan:

  • I will still have my HSG tomorrow.
  • I still plan to schedule a pre-pregnancy consult with my perinatologist to determine whether it would be wise to even consider allowing more than single embryo transfers.
  • I will schedule a consult with another RE… I have to decide who this will be – should it be my old clinic? Should it be someone entirely new? I don’t know! And if it’s my old clinic, should it be the first doctor I saw there, or the second doctor? I love them both, but one moved to a location further out, which is the only reason I stopped seeing her. The second doctor was great, but he definitely didn’t love that I didn’t reduce the HOM pregnancy. I dunno.
  • I will find out if the current clinic (the one that is 40 miles away) accepts the insurance that I’m switching to. If so, I’ll continue to proceed as planned with them, until I determine whether I should be switching to a clinic closer to home.

That’s the plan so far. I can work with plans. I always need a plan. This can work, right? I mean, after all, it’s GOOD news that I’ve got coverage, and that I’ve got better coverage, and that I can now have my choice of clinics, even though it throws off my entire timeline, right?

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