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Family caught in insurance Catch-22

I am at my wits' end. Can you help?

My husband was laid off in April and recently got a new job. It's a fine company but it is self-insured and does not cover pre-existing conditions until you have been employed there for three years.

I have had asthma since birth. I regularly see a doctor and take daily medication. Every insurance company I have called says I am uninsurable because of this. The insurance commissioner cannot do anything about the three-year pre-existing condition clause because my husband's company is self-insured.

The Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services cannot help because my husband makes too much money.

I could try getting Social Security disability but it would be two years before I could get Medicaid, and even then my husband probably makes too much to qualify.

We now have COBRA medical coverage but it lasts for only 18 months. For the next 18 months I would be without insurance, and you and I both know that one hospital visit lasting more than a few weeks can wipe a family out financially.

This is a Catch-22 situation. If you don't have insurance hospitals and doctors won't treat you, but you can't get insurance if you are already sick.

It could happen to anyone. If you got hit by a truck today and suffered lifetime complications and then you got laid off and had to find another job, because of your "pre-existing condition" you would be uninsurable.

_ K.


Response: Our best advice to someone in your position is to write to first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. Then, when the House and Senate begin to consider and amend her committee's health care bill, keep on top of it and let your elected representatives know how you feel about the compromises.

"As is' sales not always a bargain

I bought a La-Z-Boy sofa recliner from Kane Furniture. I asked the salesman if the furniture came with a warranty. He said all mechanical parts were guaranteed on this sofa for life.

About six months later one side of the recliner broke down. I called Kane. The person they sent said he could not fix it. I was under the impression they would replace it, but when I had no word I called again and was told I had bought a floor model and it was sold to me "as is."

This is a new piece of furniture. I told them if I wanted a used piece I would have paid far less than $800. Well, they gave me the runaround so I finally called the chairman of the company and he was extremely rude.

It is pretty bad when a company claims to stand by its merchandise and does not. Could you help on this?

_ Jim Montia

Response: Kane Furniture executive assistant Gretchen Georgia points out that your sales invoice clearly states in large letters "Floor Sample As Is."

When you called about a problem the company sent out a service technician as a courtesy. He found clear evidence of abuse to the recliner mechanism. The parts were bent, indicating that the footrest had been sat upon when in the up position _ something it is clearly not designed for, she said.

Nelson penned Patsy Cline's hit

I like the song Crazy by Patsy Cline. I told some friends that Willie Nelson wrote the song, and they all think I am a liar. I just want to prove a point that he did write Crazy.

Thank you very much.

_ Carolyn Myers

Response: Willie Nelson wrote both the words and the music to Crazy in 1961. Always happy to help document veracity when we find it.

Headsets banned during driving

Several months ago a Clearwater police officer gave me a $37 ticket for operating a vehicle while wearing a headset. The vehicle was a 10-speed bike.

Failure to pay the fine resulted in the suspension of my driver's license.

It does not make sense that deaf people can operate a vehicle but I cannot do so while wearing a headset, even though I can hear outside noises.

_ J.


Response: The Florida statutes say a person riding a bicycle has all the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle with a few exceptions. It also says that no person shall operate a vehicle while wearing a headset, headphone or other listening device. Hearing aids and motorcycle helmets with installed speakers are okay.

This law was obviously written to protect us from drivers whose hearing is impaired and whose attention is distracted _ deliberately.

Demanding the same dispensations as persons who have lost their hearing is ridiculous.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write: Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, 893-8171, to leave a recorded request for Action.