Ask Ariana Healthcare Access

This is an AMAZING resource. I have no idea how they are able to offer this to us for free. They approach “get health insurance” from a social justice perspective, which is to say they strive to make it as easy as possible to get health insurance that works and they understand all the weird rules so we don’t have to.

My personal experience:

  • signed up for a phone appointment the day after thanksgiving last year i think? it was going to ask “hey i have cobra but it’s almost $600/mo, are there any better options?”
  • i missed it (i didn’t pick up the phone. i think i had slept through the appointment. don’t do this)
  • the person assigned to my case was nice to me anyway and said “i don’t think the holiday was a time we wanted to be thinking about health insurance anyway!” and accepted my reschedule
  • when the time came for teh appointment, she called me. all i had to do was pick up the phone.
  • she asked me questions about what i currently had, which was COBRA, and how much it was
  • she asked me questions about income and i explained i was on disability but it had run out and i was unclear what my annual income was
  • she persisted despite my fog and got numbers out of me, and i really needed her guidance on figuring out what the relevant numbers are that would actually help her help me
  • she asked me for the current doctors i saw so she could find a plan that they all hopefully accepted
  • she researched several options and explained to me which one she thought was the best one and why
  • she sent me an email summarizing everything we talked about, and a pdf of the plan’s details, so i didn’t even have to click through to the insurance company’s website.
  • she helped me decide to switch to it from cobra, and also explained about qualifying events (loss of cobra; moving; other things) that would make me eligible for starting a new insurance plan
  • she told me exactly how to cancel cobra (i did what she told me, which was email them to get a form, but i never filled out and returned the form… i just stopped paying for it a few months later accidentally lol)
  • she had me schedule a followup. at that followup, she typed into the web form to get state premium assistance. like, i was on the phone, but she was the one who actually filled out the web form. this is so extremely helpful to me that i don’t even know how to express it. i couldn’t procrastinate on filling out the web form because i didn’t have to physically do it. she did it for me. it was amazing.
  • when she submitted the form, an error came back saying that i was already enrolled in medi-cal and i was disallowed from trying to buy something else because my income was too low, she explained that to me. i was really confused because i don’t think i ever enrolled myself in medi-cal and i wondered if i was auto-enrolled in it somehow? she was like no, you or someone else must have filled out and submitted this form before. i remain confused about how this happened. if i had done it myself, i would not have been unable to understand the error.
  • she explained to me that i had to physically go to the alameda county office of … something (it’s also in an email she sent to me so i didn’t have to take notes on the call, even) and bring proof of income so that i would be allowed to enroll in this other plan. i didn’t do that.
  • i did nothing for like six months and ignored the problem until it became a bigger problem and i became uninsured lol
  • last week, i scheduled an appointment and said “hey sorry i never did any of that, can you help me again?”
  • during the call, she reviewed stuff, and was like “let’s just try submitting the form and seeing what happens” and this time it went through (i don’t know why, i didn’t actually do or change anything). so she enrolled me.
  • she asked me if i’d stay on the call and tell her my debit card information to just pay for it while we were on the call, and that way i wouldn’t forget to pay for it later. i thought that was a really good idea.

as a result, i will have health insurance through a PPO plan (which is what i want, so that i can keep seeing my current doctors) starting on july 1 and it’s only $140ish a month. amazing.

it was incredibly helpful. she literally did it for me, and it was something i really, really needed help doing.