I knew it was coming. Our quarterly health insurance premium is due December 1st, which means that any notice announcing an increase in premium would be arriving by mail at the end of October. And sure enough, the offending piece of correspondence presented itself yesterday.
I wasn't surprised. Major media outlets like Fox News were covering the expected increases all week; touting double digits for most plans. As predicted, our premiums increased by 21% --- which follows an 18% increase last year! That means we will be paying about $666.66 per month (those numbers are certainly appropriate, aren't they?) for insurance that we barely use.
I know that the cost may seem in line with what many Americans' costs are on their company plans. But, since we are self-employed and don't have the luxury of "company benefits" that share the cost, this is a huge chunk out of our monthly cash flow.
In fact, I would much prefer to pay out-of-pocket costs to doctors, off my health insurance plan. Have you ever asked your doctor what he would charge you for a service or procedure, if you just paid him what it is worth? You would be amazed at how much the "real price" is for services, versus the "insurance price." A friend of mine recently underwent a major surgery to solve some chronic issues she had suffered since childhood. The surgery bill was $56,000; however, the insurance company wrote off all but $18,000, and after her deductible, she only owed $1200. Can anyone explain to me how this system has gotten so out of control?
But like most people, we pay for health insurance to cover the unforeseen catastrophic event, such as cancer or a major car accident; anything that would require long-term hospital costs. And we'd like to think that we have options in both cost and coverage among the various individual plans. But it appears as if the options are diminishing, while the costs are escalating. It's pretty apparent that individual plans will become so exorbitant as to be impractical, or simply disappear altogether. Every insurance consultant we've spoken to has advised us to stay off the government plans being offered through the Affordable Care Act for as long as possible. But I'm not sure how much longer we can afford to pay what is turning out to be an expensive burden.
To be honest, I can't really figure out what is going on, but my instincts tell me that Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Government are all reaping huge profits, while we, the captive consumer are ensnared in a trap we can't escape. We are forced to purchase health insurance under penalty of the law; we can no longer afford our "old plans", which are actually morphing into less valuable propositions; and the alternative is substandard care and inferior compensation for dollars spent.
Sadly, I don't have a solution, nor do I think the powers that be are looking for one. This is just another example of our infrastructure nosediving into a downward spiral. According to the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, the states were to have Medical Exchanges in place by 2014, yet for the majority of them, nothing has been done. In the meantime, the premiums for private insurance plans continue to increase; more companies and corporations will shift the cost of health care to their employees; the standard of health care will go down as panels and boards decide what care you receive; and doctors themselves will find it increasingly difficult to meet new government regulations and still retain control over how they treat their patients.
I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. You've either received a notice from your own health insurance company, or you will soon be notified by your employer that changes are coming... and none of it is good news. I'm afraid the American health care system has fallen irreparably ill, and there is no road to recovery. Take your vitamins!
3 John 1:2 "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul."