18: Getting a Wig Through Your Insurance Provider
Whoever has a few battle scars from dealing with your insurance carrier around getting wig coverage raise your hand.
How they are so successful in making what should be an easy process as confusing as landing a space craft on the moon is beyond me, but there it is. None of us are born having any knowledge of the special language native to the insurance industry, but that doesn’t mean we can’t become fluent ourselves. The following are some tricks I’ve learned to navigate this world:
- Find an ally who can help you deal with insurance company rigamarole. Whether it’s your mom, the lady at the wig store you patronize, your insurance salesman uncle, a social worker, you may need someone to help you sift through the minutia and weird vocabulary used to explain benefits, and the advanced mathematical calculations they use to figure out your “maximum benefit amount.” Heads-up for you: it’s not as straightforward as they let on in their “user-friendly” benefit charts.
- Check out what kinds of mandates exist in your state regarding how insurance companies are required to operate. The insurance commissioner may be a good resource in this regard. If you’re getting the runaround by a carrier, and they’re not doing what your state says they’re supposed to be doing, the insurance commissioner may be able to go to bat for you. I called up the NH state office recently (even though my health policy is written for VA – my mistake), and learned that, ultimately, NH couldn’t help me. But wouldn’t you know that the three months of phone calls and complaints I had been making about my most recent custom wig not getting covered were answered in a matter of days and in such a way as to end the conversation in my favor. Snap!
- Shop around for the best Durable Medical Equipment coverage. That’s what will ultimately get you coverage for a wig, either custom or synthetic, up to your annual maximum benefit.
- Know your benefits. In my experience, if I don’t push the envelope with insurance carriers I won’t get reimbursed for the coverage I’m owed (refer to bullet #2). For some or you this knowledge could equate to thousands of dollars that you can allocate instead for retirement, or a trip to Costa Rica, or a year’s worth of donations to your favorite charity.
- Be a champion for the benefits you want. My home state of NH mandates that any insurance carrier provides wigs for alopecians just as they do for cancer patients. But, at one point they were living in the unenlightened swamp land that defined life without this wonderful gift. It took some dedicated people to change policy, and now it’s a God-send for those of us just trying to feel and look like ourselves. The National Alopecia Areata Foundation could be a great place to start asking questions about how to make this kind of change happen.
One other thought, if it helps, is to breathe. We’re all just stumbling our way through the mystery that is life, and at the end of the day whatever frustration or anger or disgust or confusion we feel will pass. Try to stay grounded and positive while dealing with the crapola that seeks to bring you down.
To watch the video associated with this vlog click here.