by Paul Morantz

    So you think you are secure in old-age with various illnesses with our government system of insurance. Well, beware United Health Care.   And also to some extent Medicare and AARP.

    To start this tale, I have to say some things about myself. I am 75 and have serious illnesses. I have been tested and shown to have problems with short-term memory. I live alone, but have assistance. Like most people in my condition, I depend upon government help programs. I still find projects to work on and it can be difficult keeping everything up. Quite often, my credit card gets changed because of identity theft or other reasons. Quite a few times I did not know my automatic payments were not working and got letters saying I owe money from various insurance companies like home or auto. Letters received I usually put in a stack of things to do. Generally, I forget them and I have to go through the stack to be reminded. If there was an insurance cancellation all I had to do was call, explain my condition, apologize, and pay the late premium and I was reinstated. This would include insurance on apartment buildings.

     That is until I faced United Health Care.

     So here is the tale.

     I changed banks and asked an assistant to contact all companies I made automatic payments to using that card and notify of the change.  Apparently this person missed United Health Care. Some letters issued notifying of the money owed and providing a cancellation date If not paid. They were placed in stack of things to do.

     During this time I came out of retirement to litigate a case in which time was of the essence– the life of I the 87-year-old man was at stake. A con man had swindled him and his wife out of their home and quite ill he was living in a shack. I filed an unlawful detainer action, but because the virus I had to get permission to proceed. I also filed under the elderly abuse act for restraining order removing the con artists.

     This matter was highly litigated from May to August. The trial court denied relief under the elderly abuse act, so a petition to the appellate court was filed. This petition was granted and my clients were restored to their home. A settlement for damages was then obtained. I had worked on the case day and night because a life depended upon it.

     Victorious, I looked in my stack of things to do relating to me and found the United Health Care letter stating the cancellation date. It was a few days past. The amount owed was just $257.

     I called to give United Health Care my new credit card number and make the payment. To my shock they refused to reinstate me despite my dependency on various medications. No insurance company under the same circumstances had ever done this.  And to take away my medication which is quite expensive (1 pharmacy provides necessary medication to me for free) can be a death sentence.

     I spoke to about four supervisors, Medicare and ARRP which both sponsor United Health Care. Only one person at United Health Care was sympathetic and said she would reinstate me. She took my payment for money owed and then she transferred me to a person who she said would then reset the payments.  But that person refused to do so.

   What makes it worse, is that you cannot enroll in any program until October for reasons frankly I don’t understand.  People need their medication at all times. United Health Care knew this when it refused to reinstate me. In essence, despite being part of an industry designed to provide necessary medication to the elderly, it was willingly and intentionally sentencing me to possible death. And as set forth below it all most succeeded.

     In essence, United Health Care punished me for being ill.  But for my anemia and short-term memory problems, and other medical issues, the money would have been paid timely. As it is, I was just a few days late. And all that was owed was just $257. United Health Care thus took away my coverage because of my medical problems. They do not belong in the medical health business, and no one should subscribe to them.

     One expensive medication was supplied by my Dr. who had samples. But an important expensive drug to prevent expansion of my borderline diabetes could not be refilled. I was not too alarmed because I was borderline, never had a problem that I knew of due to diabetes and I would get the drug in October.

     The fact was I had not been tested as to my blood sugar because I did not want to go to Dr.’s office because of the virus.

     On a Thursday morning, I started the day giving a skype interview for a documentary.  It was 2 hours long. And they said I did a good job. By that afternoon I am told I fell and was out of it. The next thing I knew I was at Santa Monica at UCLA Hospital. The normal sugar level is 100. Mine was over a 1000.      So, the message is stay away from United Health Care. Its sponsor AARP which is supposed to help the elderly is a useless entity. As to Medicare, it is what it is. We still have to use it. But use caution and make sure premiums are paid. They may be part to the medical system, but at least in this instance they showed no heart.