An unknown consumer law is no law

Under the New York law that administers the troubled, frequently attacked, never amended, industry-drafted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the January termination of my health insurance, by Healthfirst, was overturned by Healthfirst.  

On January 22, 2020 I was informed that my insurance for 2020 had been terminated, without notice, for failure to do something I was also given no notice of.   On January 28, pursuant to my on-line consumer complaint at the New York State Department of Financial Services (where else?)  I had an apologetic call from Healthfirst.  

My insurance had never been terminated, I was told, the supervisor who claimed it had been, and filed the internal appeal I’d lost, had been mistaken when she told me my health insurance had been cancelled.   It had never actually been terminated at all.

Apologies were offered, I beat the poor rep into the ground forcing more and more explicit apologies and admissions out of her.   I paid my premiums through June and lived happily ever after, though I never was able to learn what law had revealed Healthfirst’s “mistake” to it, what law had caused it to overturn an apparently unlawful determination against me.

I have been seeking since to find this law, to cite it by name,  quote its language and set out the requirements for a legal termination of a New York State citizen’s health insurance.  I’d like to help inform my fellow low-income citizens that there are laws in place to protect us from unfair, in fact, illegal, termination of our ACA health insurance and a way to enforce that law and keep our health insurance.   Nobody I have reached in the state government can find the applicable provisions of law for me.  

A law that calls itself the Patient Protection Act (or it used to, before Trump changed the name), while leaving information about key protections unknowable, is useless.  Worse than useless, really, since the legal protection actually exists, only it’s secret — unless some concealed right is accidentally triggered by a lucky individual who files the right hidden complaint.  I will keep searching, apparently it can take a long time to answer certain seemingly straightforward  questions of law and fact.

Just as it will be a while before I can learn what “mistake” resulted in my insurance being irrevocably cancelled again, as I learned yesterday, this time by the government agency that administers the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in New York State.  The agency that proudly claims that it is helping all New Yorkers during this public health crisis.

Law, it’s so last century.


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