How many times have I talked about rate shock, the millions of people who would be getting cancellation letters from their current health plan, and the problem of people having to put up with more narrow networks?
And, how many times have those predictions been met by push back and spin: Today’s policies are just junk and people will be better off finding lower cost health insurance under Obamacare.
I have been in this business for 40 years. I know junk health insurance when I see it and I know “Cadillac” health insurance when I see it.
Right now I have “Cadillac” health insurance. I can access every provider in the national Blue Cross network––about every doc and hospital in America––without a referral and without higher deductibles and co-pays. I value that given my travels and my belief that who your provider is makes a big difference. Want to go to Mayo? No problem. Want to go to the Cleveland Clinic? No problem. Need to get to Queens in Honolulu? No problem.
So, I get this letter from my health plan. It says I can’t keep my current coverage because my plan isn’t good enough under Obamacare rules. It tells me to go to the exchange or their website and pick a new plan before January 1 or I will lose coverage.
First, the best I can get in a Blue Cross network plan are HMOs or HMO/Point-of-Service plans. In the core network those plans offer, I would have to go to fewer providers than I can go to now in the MD/DC/VA market. And, the core network has no providers beyond my area. I can go to the broader Blues network but only if I pay another big deductible for out-of-network coverage.
Now, my plan covers about everything. Never had a procedure for either my wife or myself turned down. Wellness benefits are without a deductible. It covers mental health, drugs, maternity, anything I can think of.
The new plan would have a deductible $500 higher than the one I now have and a lot more if I go “out-of-network” inside the rest of the Blue Cross national network.
And, wait all you people telling me rate shock does not exist, it far more restricted plan costs 66% more than our current monthly premium. Mr. Rate Shock got rate shocked––and benefit shocked to boot.
Now here’s the real corker: Maryland has been bragging they have the lowest premiums of all of the exchanges. More, I figured being an old fart the age rating rules, that force younger people to pay more so older people pay less, would help me. Didn’t work out.
There are other plans on the exchange but every comparable plan had much higher premiums.
Thankfully, my Blue Cross plan is offering me an “early renewal” which means I can keep this plan I really like until December 2014––at which point my beloved health plan is toast. My health insurance company is doing everything they can––this is not their fault.
Mr. President: I really like my health plan and I would like to keep it. Can you help me out here?
Robert Laszewski has been a fixture in Washington health policy circles for the better part of three decades. He currently serves as the president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates of Alexandria, Virginia. You can read more of his thoughtful analysis of healthcare industry trends at The Health Policy and Marketplace Blog, where this post first appeared.