Like millions of Americans whose former insurance policies were cancelled because of new requirements under the Affordable Care Act, I was forced out of my health insurance comfort zone with a cancellation notice in hand. Four months later, I’m stuck with a health care plan that I did not sign up for and which requires me to pay double the premium of my former plan. We’re talking about a health insurance premium that is more than the cost of an average monthly mortgage. How did this happen?
When I got the notice in the mail from my insurance company that my plan was being cancelled, I moved right away and signed up for a new plan directly with my insurance company. (I would love to disclose the company’s name but, alas, my matter is still ongoing.) I truly believed that I had everything wrapped up and all I had to do was wait for the first invoice. No problem, I thought. I had all my notes from the conversation with the sales representative who plugged in my information over the telephone in an application that I believed was completed last November.
Turns out, when the Healthcare Marketplace1 website crashed last year, so did my application. It never made it out of the stack of unfinished paperwork that lay waiting to be processed. To add insult to injury (pun intended), someone at my insurance company took it upon themselves to enroll my family–without my permission–into one of the costliest plans available. Next, I had insurance cards in the mail with the wrong plan and the wrong start date. Not long afterward, the invoice followed. It came so late in the mail, I was forced to either pay it or risk a gap in insurance coverage-something that my household could not afford. I’m still holding my nose from the stench of it all.
The fact that I’m now paying more than double what my old premium used to be does not likely give the insurance company much motivation to “correct” my monthly premium cost– as it has promised to do. Moreover, the insurance company is placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Healthcare Marketplace. In return, the Marketplace is pointing its finger at the insurance carrier. A promised 30-day review of this debacle (by the insurance company and the Marketplace) has turned out to be an open-ended “he-said, she-said” saga. And me? I have already paid one outrageous premium and face paying another -all for a plan I never signed up for in the first place. Who in their right mind would willingly fork over more than double the monthly premium they were originally quoted?
The nauseous debate over ObamaCare is not the issue. In fact, a recent poll reported by CNN2 indicates that Americans are shifting more in favor of the President’s health care law. Moreover, outcries about the cost of rising premiums prompted a government response to convince some companies (apparently not mine) to allow consumers to keep their old coverage until all the snags are smoothed over in the new law.
What’s really at issue is how health insurance premiums have skyrocketed apparently in order to offset health insurance companies’ new responsibilities under the law. While things like pre-existing conditions and the like are no longer deterrents to Americans getting health care, there are costs attached in the way of higher premiums. Unless a government subsidy comes into play to give some premium relief to consumers, insurance companies like mine say emphatically, “We aren’t controlling the cost. The government is.” Really?
With about two weeks left until the March 31st open enrollment deadline, consumers without health care insurance must either enroll in a plan (with a carrier or the Healthcare Marketplace) or face tax penalties beginning in 2015. Moreover, anyone thinking of going without health insurance because of the cost should think again. One major illness can send you into bankruptcy. When you think of a $20,000 and up hospital bill, it puts the monthly premium costs into perspective. At the same time, no one should be walloped with a premium that doubles you over with an economic punch to the stomach. Are you listening, health insurance carriers?