It should not have been this difficult to get health coverage through the state of Illinois, but I have come to the conclusion that this is some "trial by fire" where only the most tenacious get approved. I have also concluded that the Musak you are forced to listen to while on hold is designed to make you give up. I used to like "Let It Be" by the Beatles. Not so much, anymore! In the 6 months that it took me to get approved, I probably listened to that rendition for no less than 5 hours.
Here's what I did to get approved after failing to get any response other than "we are still processing your application".
1. I sent President Obama an email. I did get a response from Ron Onyun, the head of the US Department of Human Services. His "helpful" response was to inform me that it was taking 3-4 months for applications to be approved (as if I didn't know that already).
2. I contacted the office of my state representative. Apparently, I needed to submit my birth certificate (don't even get me started on how furious that made me), which I had misplaced. I also had to resubmit my income/expenses information which I had already submitted when I applied online. And, by the way, they were all caught up with processing applications until all the applications filed in December, 2013 (mine) and January, 2014, which had been sitting in a file for the past 5 months were just released to AllKids for processing.
Then, I finally got a letter from AllKids, asking me, you guessed it, to resubmit the same information that I kept submitting to them. I faxed it to them long before the deadline. Another month passed. I called the state rep's office again, to be told that I needed to bring my birth certificate and THE SAME DAMN INFORMATION to the office in Skokie which I have been told is so badly run that I should never go there. At this point, I burst into tears from sheer frustration.
A very nice thing happened on my way to get a copy of my birth certificate at the Cook County Courthouse in Skokie. I stopped in at the Trader Joe's in Evanston and one of the staff asked me how I was doing. I just burst into more tears and explained my situation. She told me how to get my birth certificate, gave me a hug and as I was checking out, she presented me with a bouquet of flowers... on the house. I did get my birth certificate with minimum hassle, although once you get into their enormous parking lot, there are no signs directing you to the courthouse. Another test to see how smart I am?
3. I contacted the folks at the Campaign For Better Health Care, a not-for-profit, who are there to help people get health coverage. Originally, I called them just to tell them my story but a wonderful woman, a navigator, Cheryl, called me back, determined to help me get coverage. She told me she would sit on hold for me and then talk to the nice folks at AllKids on my behalf. She had no idea what she was getting herself into. By the end of the day, she had been on hold for hours after being disconnected or hung up on 3 times. She did manage to find out that MY BENEFITS WERE DENIED. When she asked why, the response was "I'm not sure, but I think it was because she (me) didn't submit her information in time". Cheryl told me we could try again the next day and that I should be presented with a trophy when I finally got coverage.
4. At this point, I was just $%^ pissed off and I decided to call Governor Quinn's office and ask to speak to him. Of course, I knew I wouldn't be put through, but I did it, anyway. A real person answered and told me that the governor wasn't available. After ranting for several minutes, he put my through to Ginger, who made it sound like she could help me resolve my problem, took all my information and promised to do her best. I am assuming they just wanted to get rid of me because I never heard from her again.
5. I called my state senator's office, talked to his assistant who had me bring in all my documents. She assured me she would help me get coverage or would die trying... actually, she never claimed that. But, she did reassure me that she would keep trying until I get coverage.
Then, right after I dropped off my documents, I got a call from a woman at the aforementioned Skokie office, telling me she was going to get me approved. I asked for her name after she told me she would "call me right back". After I didn't hear from her an hour later, I called the Skokie office... to be told this person didn't exist. It went from bad to weird. Then, 3 1/2 hours later, I got a call from the non-existent woman who told me I was approved. When I asked her why she didn't appear to exist, she explained that she was a regional director who traveled from office to office and that the employees of each office wouldn't be aware of her. I didn't care at this point, I was so elated and exhausted. I called everyone who had helped me with the good news and to thank them for their hard work.