Last September, a few months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Kyla Brakebill’s insurance coverage was canceled by the Arkansas Department of Human Services. Almost a year later, she remains uninsured.
“I was in Memphis for work and my mouth was hurt really bad,” she said. “I get to Walgreens and I find out they won’t fill my prescription because my insurance had ended.” Baffled, she called Blue Cross and DHS as soon as she returned home. “After a million phone calls and finally getting to talk to someone, they said it was because I didn’t send a change of address.”
Brakebill had recently lost her home to a foreclosure and had moved several times. However, she had filled out a change of address form at the post office and had her mail forwarded to a P.O. box. She had no idea, she said, that DHS required beneficiaries to directly notify the agency of any physical address change. And because her insurance was provided through Blue Cross rather than directly through the state — a feature born of Arkansas’s unusual privatized approach to Medicaid expansion — she wasn’t used to communicating with DHS about her coverage. “I never had another conversation with DHS about insurance after that initial application,” she said.
DHS requires beneficiaries to notify it of any address change within 10 days of a move, agency spokeswoman Amy Webb said. If mail sent to a beneficiary is returned to DHS and the agency hasn’t received notification of an address change, it will close that person’s case.