When you COS, the PCMO will tell you a little bit about the AfterCorps program, and how great it is. Turns out, this is a lie. It is totally overpriced; and they pay almost nothing of your bills. Peace Corps will also give no practical information about using the insurance. I will tell you about my experiences, since no one in the Peace Corps office will help you with any practical questions about the program.
The monthly cost is roughly $180 (at least for me, it might vary by person). I am a generally healthy person, no pre-existing conditions. Checking on the internet real quick, I found plans that sound similar in the $70 – $150 range.
In order to get your doctor’s visit covered, you must fill out what Seven Corners (the provider of AfterCorps) calls a “proof of loss” form. These are available on their website. I did not know this information, so they sent me the form after my doctor’s visit with very little instructions. I then had to return to my doctor’s office and get this information, even for a check-up (no injury or illness). I went to the gynecologist on the recommendation (and as I understand it, requirement) of the PCMO. I wouldn’t have gone otherwise, but I was told the AfterCorps insurance would cover it. WRONG.
Turns out the most AfterCorps will pay for a “preventative” visit is $110. All together, the bills from my short visit to the gynecologist total over $400 (office visit and a couple of lab procedures). Which means that the remaining $290 of it will have to be paid by me, myself and I (and my parents). The previous gynecological exams I’d had done in Zambia were not the best, but they were definitely better than paying almost $300.
The one good thing about AfterCorps is they are fast and helpful when you email them. I emailed them about my claims, which was when I found out there was another claim for $1600 being processed under my name. When I asked for more information, they told me that the claim was for a visit to the doctor on July 9th in Honolulu, Hawaii. Well, I’ve never even been to Hawaii, so this is obviously NOT my bill. When I told them this information, they double-checked the file and found out the claim had been put under my name by mistake. This mistake was (surprisingly) quickly fixed.
Also, you can only visit doctors in their Seven Corners network. This fact was also not mentioned by Peace Corps. So if you are planning to visit a doctor, check the website to make sure they are in the network. And don’t forget to take the proof of loss form with you. Most importantly, be prepared to pay hundreds of dollars.
So if you COSing soon, make sure you know the facts. I had never really dealt with health insurance before this experience, and I have to say I am not impressed. I know it is not Peace Corps job to babysit volunteers, but I do feel it is their job to make sure we are informed.
Has anyone else had problems with AfterCorps? Or even a positive experience?
December 2013 Update:
AfterCorps is so terrible that it does not meet the minimum coverage for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). For more information on the changes that were made to AfterCorps and insurance options for recently returned volunteers, check out the Peace Corps Passport Blog: http://passport.peacecorps.gov/2013/12/13/new-options-for-health-insurance-coverage-after-peace-corps-service/#more-848