Letter to the Editor

As a retired teacher I pay a monthly premium for our family medical coverage to Kaiser through the Washington State Health Care Authority. My premium, because I have my spouse, myself and a dependent child and with the Uniform Dental Plan, is over $1,000 a month. We also pay for Medicare for my wife and myself. 

Since the decision by the state, and I suspect it was the governor's office and his response to COVID-19, to close all medical facilities to non-emergency services and only allow remote access to questions or prescriptions has diminished our level of coverage and access, and since that level of coverage was why I contracted to pay for these services, I have called both Kaiser and the Washington Health Care Authority to question if I (or others in my circumstance) would be receiving a refund for a portion of the very high premiums or a deduction in the amount we are paying during the closing of the hospitals, clinics and related medical facilities.

I don't see a clear date when the hospitals, medical staff and clinics will begin to function at a normal rate. In the meantime we continue to pay for coverage we cannot use. To me this sounds like a breach of a contract with our providers and with the Washington State Health Care Authority which brokers our coverage.

I have tried to "go up the line" to talk to someone in authority at both Kaiser and the WSHCA but I am not able to reach someone who is able to give me an answer. It seems like all of the supervisors are unavailable. Those brave souls who do have to answer the phones at the "customer service" desk have told me that there are no refunds or discounts for premiums available, but they are only given this information from their supervisors and can't provide answers when asked why.

Since I am only a retiree who would like some clear answers and to plead my case, I am writing this hoping that someone in the press would have more success in contacting those who are managing these programs and who also have more contact with those who are making the decisions to keep these services from those of us who are paying for them but receiving no benefit.

If we are relegated to only a "major medical" or emergency or urgent care level of coverage in the foreseeable future it seems that we should have a lower monthly premium for this lower level of coverage. I am wondering if there are others who are as concerned as I am.


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