Saturday, December 20, 2014

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work

Happy Holidays! It’s hard to believe this is the 11th edition of my annual holiday letter. I hope this one finds you and your loved ones happy, healthy and at peace.

I spent almost all of 2014 in Washington, DC. (Alert: Wanderlust warning is high.) You know, when I moved to Rwanda for a year in 2013 I was ready for culture shock, and there certainly was a lot to learn, but the real culture shock has been coming home and living in DC. It is pretty amazing what we all take for granted every day and I have a lot less patience than I did before for people complaining that their latte order is not quite right or their steak is closer to medium than medium-rare. Deal, people!

I spent the the first four months of 2014 looking for a job and really did not enjoy that, which I’ve documented here with a few tips and suggestions (mainly to avoid the process at all costs if you can help it).
Chilling in my backyard in DC in February
That search ended with my accepting a position at GlobalGiving! GlobalGiving is the first and largest global crowdfunding community for nonprofits and I’m excited to bring my years of working on the internet to the nonprofit field. Working at a nonprofit is very different than I ever could have imagined and feels in some ways like an even bigger culture shock than working at a youth village in Rwanda. What I love most about my job is that my efforts go towards supporting amazing community based organizations around the world like APOPO’s Hero Rats finding landmines and diagnosing TB in Tanzania, XS Project working to improve the lives of the trashpicker community in Jakarta, or the Warrior Canine Connection training adorable puppies to be service dogs for our veterans in need. (I can’t fail to mention my favorite ever project, a certain youth village in Rwanda.) These organizations are doing important work, and if I help them at all, everything I do is worth it.

Not a sponsored endorsement (I promise!) but if you are still thinking about annual giving, please check out our site. With more than 3000 individual projects fundraising, you are bound to find one that aligns with your interests and is doing amazing work. (Added bonus about my job: I get to bike to work most days, which I really enjoy and my route takes me past the Supreme Court, the Capitol and the White House.)

I’m so excited to share the biggest development of the year: last year’s holiday letter had a bit of  a cliffhanger. I told you about our how I was supporting some students from the school where I had worked in their search for university scholarships and our efforts studying for the TOEFL and ‘application boot camp’. In early 2014, while I was looking for a job I was also still editing essays and checking with universities to see if required documents had been received. I am so thrilled to tell you that for four of those students that effort has really paid off! This spring we learned that these students were awarded full MasterCard Scholarships: Innocent to McGill, Libia to UBC in Vancouver and Immaculee & Jeannine to Arizona State University. (Three more students from that same class have received scholarships this November though their efforts at Bridge2Rwanda. Congrats to Claude, Peace Grace and Pacifique!) In November, I went to ASU to check on Immaculee & Jeaninne and they are really adapting well and enjoying school.

Me at ASU visiting Immaculee & Jeaninne
Oh and I had a relatively minor toe surgery in February which had me off ultimate and running for about 6 months which, if you talked to me at all this year, you know I more than made up for by whining and whining and whining about it. It is all fine now and I’m back to running but mostly retired from disc. I did play Sectionals and Regionals this year with a wonderful bunch of ladies from Philly, Breakfast Club, and we won (the party).

Epic Halloween with Sussman. I'm mummified on the right.
In March, I saw my nieces Kate and Lindy both dance at the Rainbow Dance Company annual modern dance concert in Raleigh, NC. They are both doing well in life and in school. Kate has her driver’s license now, so stay off the roads if you are in the Raleigh area.
Lindy and Kate, aren't they cute?
I did make a few quick trips to NYC throughout the year for job interviews, to volunteer at the annual Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village Gala Fundraiser and most recently to represent GlobalGiving and attend a panel at the UN on the psycho-social response to the Ebola epidemic. I really need to get up there more often.

Innocent and me at the ASYV Gala in NYC in May
In November, I spent #ThanksGambling14 with my extended family in Louisville, KY. In what has evolved into something of a tradition, my aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins all bundle up and head out to Churchill Downs and watch the races on Thanksgiving day. It was wonderful to see everyone. For Christmas, as usual, I’ll be in Raleigh to see my Mom, Sister, Brother-in-law and Kate & Lindy.

Looking forward to 2015, I’m planning to make some more college visits and hopefully get back to traveling internationally again. Please let me know if you pass through DC. (I’ve got a partial season ticket plan for the Wizards and I’m pretty excited about watching John Wall ball in the East this season.)

As always, I hope you enjoy my holiday letter and don't find it too obnoxious.  You can 'opt out' by sending an email asking to be removed from this distribution list. For those of you looking for more frequent updates, you can find me online at and @CourtneyMFK on Twitter.

Happy New Year!  May your 2015 be joyous and peaceful.

Arizona in November

So, this is overdue, but as you've noticed I haven't been blogging much this year.

In November, I went to Phoenix, AZ with Keri Dorko to see two students from ASYV that received full MasterCard scholarships to Arizona State University and to hike in Sedona. It was great to see Immaculee and Jeaninne and they are fitting in well in school and seem fantastic. It was wonderful to see them.

Sedona is beautiful and like I always do (see previous posts on Wilson's Prom and Zanzibar) I mused on what it would take to stay there forever.

I'll just add a few photos and leave it at that. Working on the xmas letter now and this is old news anyway:
Immaculee in front of her dorm room

Me, another MC Scholar from Rwanda, Immaculee and Jeaninne on the ASU campus near the library

Me in on a 12 mile hike in Sedona where we stopped for lunch

Keri being sun safe on the hike

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kafkaesque Bureaucratic Health Care Nightmare - HELP!

(Ed note: Sorry it's been a while. I've been quite busy with the new job. I need a place to publish and tweet to the anguish that this 'Kafkaesque Bureaucratic Health Care Nightmare' has become.)

Courtney M. Kelly
614 D St. NE Apt. B
Washington DC 20002
(917) 405-5829

December 19, 2014

United Healthcare
PO Box 30555
Salt Lake City UT 84130-0555

To whom it may concern:

My name is Courtney Marie Kelly (DOB June 2, 1976).  My member ID is XXXXXXXXX. My Health Plan is (XXXXX) XXX-XXXXX-XX. My group number is XXXXXX.

I am writing to formally protest that my medical claims are being rejected for OI (other insurance).  I have had health insurance only from UnitedHealthcare from July 1 2014-present. I have attempted to clarify this with my previous health insurance provider, Kaiser Permanente on multiple occasions, as I will detail below.

I received health insurance from Kaiser Permanente (KP) purchased through DC Health Link, the Washington DC Health Insurance Marketplace. I was insured by KP from February 1, 2014 through June 30, 2014.

I started a new (full time) job on May 12, 2014 with, and this employer provides health insurance (through United Healthcare). My insurance through United Healthcare became effective June 11, 2014.

I called Kaiser Permanente (KP) (877 608 0077) on June 24, 2014 to cancel my health coverage. I was informed by the KP representative (Adelpho) that KP could not cancel my health insurance because it was purchased through the exchange. On that same morning (6/24/14) I called the DC Health Link (855 532 5465 & spoke with agent Keisha at 9:24 AM, call record: S-165-414-478) and cancelled my health insurance, completing a disenroll order effective June 30, 2014. (I have paid all my monthly premiums to KP through June 2014.)

On August 13, 2014 I called KP again to confirm the disenroll order had been processed. I spoke with agents Arielle and Tiffany. I was told my coverage was still active in the system. I was repeatedly told there was no escalation point and no one I could speak with because I came through the exchange. I asked that they at least record my attempts to cancel in the call record and they refused saying that they could have nothing to do with an account that was purchased from the exchange. On that same day, I spoke with a DC Health Link agent again (Keisha, call record #S-167-749-611). She assured me the June 30th 2014 suspension had been processed and noted in my record that I contacted the carrier.

On September 4, 2014 I again called KP to confirm the disenroll order had been processed. Again, I was told I was still active in KPs system and no one could complete a disenroll action because I came through the exchange. I requested any kind of escalation or assistance and was told that none was available. Again, on that same day I called DC Health Link and spoke with Nyisha (call record: S-168-688-788). She confirmed the disenroll process was complete and had been “acknowledged by Kaiser Permanente on August 19, 2014”. At this point, I was satisfied the matter was finally resolved because DC Health Link had a record of Kaiser Permanente acknowledging the disenroll order.

In November and December I began to see my health care claims denied by my health insurance provider United Healthcare (UHC). These claims were denied for “OI, Other Insurance”. I called UHC several times in November and December to have these claims processed and explained that I had no other insurance and I had disenrolled from Kaiser Permanente in June of 2014. On December 15th 2014, Sharon G, the agent from United Healthcare explained to me via chat session that at this point to have these health care claims processed, I need a certificate of creditable coverage from Kaiser Permanente to show the start and end dates of my coverage.

On December 16th, 2014 I called the DC Health Link again (and spoke with Angela at 9:19 AM) who once again confirmed that my disenroll statement had been acknowledged on August 19, 2014 by Kaiser Permanente. Angela informed me that she would resubmit the termination request, confirming this was back-dated to June 30, 2014. I requested a physical letter or fax confirming this request and was told by Angela that this was not possible, that DC Health Link could not provide this per HIPPA requirements.

Also on the morning on December 16, 2014 I again called Kaiser Permanente (301 468 6000) and spoke with agent Seisey who again told me that I was active in the KP system and that there was nothing she could do to help me. She transferred me to Denise in ‘KCC internal department’ and both Denise and Seise said ‘As soon as I head DC Health Link I can’t do anything.”

So  I am trapped between these three health care systems. Please assist me. I am writing to request that all my medical care claims that have been denied for ‘OI’ be resubmitted. I have not paid any KP monthly premiums beyond June of 2014. From July 2014 to the present, UnitedHealthcare has been my only health insurance provider and it is unfair and unacceptable that I am being punished and charged for health care services that are covered under my current UHC plan because  Kaiser Permanente is too incompetent to process my dis-enrollment. As my health insurance provider, I trust you to treat me fairly and not punish or charge me for the unfair business practices of Kaiser Permanente.

Rest assured that I have sent a similar letter (and fax) seeking redress from  Kaiser Permanente, and to DC Health Link.  However, the resolution of this matter is entirely in your hands, as you are my only health insurance provider and should process my claims as such.

If you have any questions or concerns with this matter please call me at 917.405.5829 or email me directly at or postal mail it to me at:
Courtney M. Kelly
614 D St. NE Apt. B
Washington DC 20002

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. I will fax, mail and blog post this letter in an effort to resolve this matter.

Courtney M. Kelly