The Northern California mother was distraught to learn that her daughter, who she thought was attending college in San Jose, was in jail. The letter from Covered California clearly stated under her daughter’s name, “The records show that you are incarcerated (in jail or prison).” For this woman, for whom English is a second language, she was panicked that her daughter was in jail, her daughter had lied to her, and the whole family might lose their health insurance. In reality, this cruel hoax on the mother is the result of a miserably drafted eligibility letter using questionable data sources.
Covered California informs mother her daughter is in jail
The mother’s distress over her daughter’s imprisonment was heightened by the fact that she could not immediate get a hold of her daughter by phone or email. When they did connect, the daughter assured her mother that she had not been arrested and in fact was on track to become the immigrant family’s first college graduate. Of course, there was still the matter of proving to Covered California that her daughter had not been arrested, jailed or sent to state prison. But Covered California also wanted to know why they couldn’t match the daughter’s social security number and was asking for proof they didn’t have other health insurance coverage. (The mother happens to be my client and recounted the story to me in a frantic tone until I told her I would communicate with Covered California that they jailed the wrong daughter.)
How do you prove something didn’t happen?
I guess Covered California works on the premise that you guilty until proven innocent. How does one prove they have not been incarcerated if they have not been incarcerated? How does a person’s social security number not match when Covered California has accepted it for the last two years? How does a family prove they don’t have other health insurance when they don’t have other health insurance? Covered California might as well be asking to provide proof of that God doesn’t exist, which is based on the premise that there must be some evidence for her existence to begin with.
Covered California is breaching the privacy of adults
Possibly the more troubling aspect, aside from pushing a mother to nearly have a heart attack, is that Covered California is potentially divulging private information of one adult to another adult. The daughter is over 18 years of age. Because she is an adult, her college can’t even tell the parents how she is doing in college let alone tell them if she is still attending. Covered California may very well be breaking privacy laws by alerting parents that their son or daughter has been arrested and jailed.
Covered California needs to clean up its letters
Personal and private information about an adult still on their parent’s health insurance should not be divulged to the parents or main subscriber on the account. Covered California needs to correct this privacy breach. Covered California should have alerted the daughter that their records indicated she might have been jailed, not the mother. It is up to the adult daughter to prove she was not in jail and not her mother.
Below is the Covered California eligibility letter that reads similar to scare tactic scam letter demanding money.
Covered California Eligibility
For the next 90 days, you qualify for health insurance through Covered California. You can use some or all of your household’s premium assistance (a federal tax credit) to lower the monthly amount you pay your health plan.
You do not qualify for cost-sharing reductions (lower co-payments and deductibles) because:
Your household income is above the limits for these programs.
To help pay the monthly health insurance premiums for your household, you qualify for monthly premium assistance up to $506.00.
We Need More Information from You
Your Social Security number (SSN) Does Not Match
We cannot match the Social Security number (SSN) you gave us to the records we checked. The government databases we check may not have been working when we tried to confirm your SSN. Please call the Service Center at 1-800-300-1506 so we can make sure there has not been a mistake. You may need to correct a mistake with the federal Social Security Administration. We can tell you how to do that.
If you do not respond within 90 days, you might lose your Covered California insurance. If you contact us within 90 days with proof, you will keep your insurance through Covered California. If you need more than 90 days to get proof, please call the Service Center to ask for more time.
We Need Proof You Are Not Incarcerated
The records show that you are incarcerated (in jail or prison). The government databases we check may not have been working when we checked your information. If we are wrong, we apologize and if you were recently released, please send inmate release papers. If this is an error, please call the Service Center at 1-800-300-1506 to update our records and find out if you qualify.
If you do not respond within 90 days, you might lose your Covered California insurance. If you contact us within 90 days with proof that you are no longer incarcerated (in jail or prison), you may be able to keep your insurance through Covered California. If you need more than 90 days to get proof, please call the Service Center at 1-800-300-1506 to ask for more time.
We Need Proof You Do Not Have Other Coverage
Our records show that you have health insurance through a job or government program. In order to qualify for financial help, we need proof that you do not have health insurance, such as a letter from your employer. The letter must state the names of the persons who no longer qualify, the type of coverage that ended, and the date it ended.