As some of you may know, from time to time, a member of the VP Team will post on behalf of someone who wishes to remain anonymous. This is one of those times.
We appreciate you responding with your usual level of super awesomeness. :)
For the VP Team
Hi everyone. I'm a longtime reader of VP. Hopefully someone out there will be able to help me with my problem.
I lost my insurance when I turned 24. I also lost my job a few months ago and am currently collecting unemployment in California. I've been shopping around for pay-by-month PPO insurance because I can't predict when I'll be hired next, or if that job will offer insurance benefits. Being uninsured makes me very nervous; I'm afraid that an unexpected hospital visit will drown me in medical debt.
I applied for Tonik Health Insurance (Blue Cross) and was denied coverage because I have high-risk HPV that manifested in an abnormal pap smear.
I was diagnosed with high-risk HPV (the kind that may lead to cervical cancer, not the kind that leads to genital warts) and mild cervical dysplasia at my last gyno exam (Summer 2009). My gynocologist performed a colposcopy to remove and further test the abnormal cervical cells. Prior to that, all of my tests were normal and any STI screenings were negative. I'm very healthy otherwise and have been told that my immune system should clear the virus in a year or two. I have been advised to get pap smears every six months until I get two consecutive normal results, after which I can resume my yearly examination schedule.
Once the initial shock of the diagnosis wore off, I haven't thought of this as being a major health issue. Yet I failed to meet the Blue Cross "medical underwriting guidelines". The specific reasons I was not given insurance were (via the explanation letter they sent me) "History of abnormal pap smear within 12 months with last two paps not normal" and/or "HPV, Gonorrhea, or Genital Warts within 2 years." Being in either one of these categories would make me a high risk insurance candidate, and I fall into both categories. One abnormal pap smear + high-risk HPV = no insurance.
I typically only see doctors for preventative healthcare: gyno exams, dental cleanings and eye exams (I'm nearsighted and need glasses/contacts). I might go to Urgent Care once or twice a year. I don't take any prescription medications on a regular basis. Based on this, and excluding any unforeseen health disasters, I could probably get by without insurance for a while. But I don't want to be in that position.
I've started to fill out application forms with other insurance companies. I'm worried that I'll be denied coverage again if I mention my HPV/abnormal pap history. I don't know if I should omit information about my condition just to get insurance and risk losing coverage if they eventually find out, or reveal my medical history and risk being blacklisted from another insurance company. Additionally, I have been referred to the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program (MRMIP) which is for "Californians unable to obtain coverage in the individual health insurance market because of their pre-existing conditions." If I qualify for this program, I worry that enrollment will hurt my insurance record. My current condition is completely temporary (it should go away within a year or two and I've only been aware of it for six months) and I really don't want this to affect my pursuit of insurance in the future.
Has anyone else been in this situation? What did you do? Does anyone know if job-sponsored insurance can deny coverage over something like this? Has anyone used MRMIP? Will my status as an insurance candidate go back to normal after two normal pap smears? After two years?
I've never been in this position before (being uninsured, unemployed, needing to purchase insurance OR having a pre-existing condition, let alone having all of this happen at the same time) and I have no idea what to do. All I can say is that I'm really offended that my pre-existing conditions are stigmatizing me out of being able to purchase insurance. I really need some advice. And insurance!
Thanks in advance.