Boston City Hall Health Insurance Dept. vs. Me (and all city employees)

While I am away in Ecuador, WorldTeach will provide me with health insurance. This means that I will not need my current health insurance that that city of Boston provides. HOWEVER, I would like to reinstate my health insurance as soon as I get home.                 All of this makes perfect sense, right?

Here is the tricky part: I was told that you are only allowed to reinstate your health insurance during the sign-up times in April. This made me nervous. No insurance for that long? So I called City Hall’s city employees health insurance office. The lady there said that what I learned was true. However, she told me that if I am covered by some sort of insurance while on leave, I could start my insurance back up when I return. I just needed to get a letter from the WorldTeach insurance company that has the dates that I was covered, then my City of Boston insurance could start back up within 30 days of my return.  (Ah! Phew!)  I repeated all of this information back to the lady on the phone and asked if it was correct. She said, “Uhh, yeah. You just said everything I said.” Still following this?

However, I just didn’t think it could be that easy because I’m dealing with the city of Boston. So I called WorldTeach and the nice staff over there said that they would get me a fake version of the letter that WorldTeach’s insurance company would send to me when I returned home. Today, I brought the letter downtown to City Hall so I could be ABSOLUTELY sure that the letter would say everything it should.

Now the story begins.

When I walked into the office, I stood behind a man who seemed pretty upset about something and a woman was shuffling around slowly and saying she needed to check on it. (What was ‘it’? I have no idea.) I stood them behind them waiting patiently. I was in no hurry since the office was air conditioned and it was over 90 degrees outside. It was then that I caught the eye of another woman in the office.

She was scowling with narrowed eyes, a set jaw, and really angry posture. She walked up to the counter. In a completely flat tone, she asked if she could help me. I knew I had to turn on the charm. With a big smile, I started to explain my upcoming leave of absence. At first she thought my leave of absence was coming to an end. I re-explained and said I just wanted to be sure that the letter I’ll receive would fulfill the City of Boston’s requirements. She WOULD NOT look at my fake letter. She said that the letter had to have dates and that’s good enough. I mentioned that it should probably have letterhead as well? DATES was the reply. I held the letter up and read the sentence that had dates in it as I traced the line with my finger. When I looked up at her, she was actually looking away. She refused to glance at the letter. When I asked her if she could look at it, she said she didn’t need to and all it needed to have was dates.

I wasn’t getting anywhere so I just said one more time, “So this is okay? Next year, I’ll be good?”. She repeated I just needed a letter with dates. Then I held the fake version of the letter up next to my face and smiled a huge smile. I said, “You’ll remember this face and the letter next August?” At this point, the angry man ahead of me started laughing out loud. The woman just stared and said, “It will be whoever waits on you. I don’t know who’ll be working when you come in.” Ugh.

This is not my first time in the health insurance office. The last time I was there, my experience was pretty much the same. What happens to these people as a whole that makes them so unbearably awful? All I wanted was for her to act like she was listening to me, take a  5-second look at the letter, smile, and say “Looks good!” Would that have been SO HARD?

When I was walking out, the security guard that I had chatted with as I entered City Hall asked if something was wrong. (Strangers could sense my annoyance.) I asked if there was a ‘Complaints Department’ at City Hall. He laughed out loud and said that everyone who leaves that office comes out with the same frustrated look. I was one of many. Then he mimicked my face and walk. This made me laugh and I decided to pity the woman rather than be mad.

But let me just say…if I return next August and I can’t sign up for health insurance, I will lose my ever-loving mind.

(If you have made it to the end of this story, you are a blog-reading rock star! Thank you for letting me vent!)

3 thoughts on “Boston City Hall Health Insurance Dept. vs. Me (and all city employees)

  1. Megan, I can tell you with 100% certainty, that when you return next year, you will NOT be able to sign up for health insurance. I’m not saying this because I have some knowledge of the correct procedure. I’m saying this because that’s the way these things go. It would have gone the same even if she looked at your letter, pointed to the dates, said it was OK and signed it. There is simply no way that that office can handle your request correctly. My advice would bet this… upon you’re return to the United States, do not get sick.

  2. I am glad I am cause this woman (office) does not want me to come to Boston 🙂 Seriously, if you need help with anything, I will be glad to make sure you have it. Sorry you are having such an issue.

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