Civil Discourse Now

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Initial effects of "Obamacare" on rates at Anthem(r) or WellPoint(r) or whatever the company is called.

   With all the consternation of the Affordable Care Act—a/k/a "Obamacare" a/k/a "Obamneycare"—many people have missed the forest for the trees.

   I have Multiple Sclerosis. I make no secret of the diagnosis and wrote about the disease as part of the reason I walk in the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini-Marathon® each year.

   When I was diagnosed with MS in 1994, I had no health insurance. I applied to a private carrier, but was rejected for my "prior medical condition." I should have had health insurance. That was my mistake. However, my rates mushroomed. Today I pay nearly $1k per month for coverage through the Indiana "pool." The "pool" is health insurance coverage through a private carrier that is required to cover persons who have been rejected for reasons of prior existing condition(s). The carrier changes every few years, from what I have observed. For a few years now it has been Anthem®.

   Anthem® merged with WellPoint® in 2004. In 2010, premiums were jacked 39.1%. The CEO of WellPoint®, Angela Braly, has made headlines with her annual bonuses in eight figures. What does she do? She runs a corporation with a virtual monopoly on health insurance.

   Yesterday I decided to test the waters of health insurance rates, post-Supreme Court decision. I applied on-line to—Anthem®! I was straightforward about everything (age, height, weight, prior existing condition, cigar smoker) and that I presently have insurance. I received an initial quote—for less than half the premium I pay now.

   BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

   Under my present plan, I have a sizeable deductible. My coverage only is for medical. The package for which I applied had NO deductible and included full dental.

   I was happy at the prospects of paying a monthly premium no longer greater than our mortgage payment. I received a telephone call mid-morning from the sales wing of Anthem®. The first person verified my information, including that at present I am insured. She then transferred me to a person whom I reasonably infer is an underwriter.

   That was when things went awry.

   I was told that since I presently am insured, the rate quoted will not be available to me until October 1. I asked why. She said because the company had been curious about the outcome of the health care statute. She was polite. I was polite. The call ended.

   First, there is nothing about which Anthem®/WellPoint® executives need be curious in regard to the Affordable Care Act. As others have pointed out, the Congress passed it, the President signed it into law, and now the Supreme Court has declared it constitutional. Second, I am not under a written contract. Why should the executives’ curiosity make any difference? There is no reason for a delay until October 1—unless the delay is to keep raking in that money as the insurance companies pump a lot of bucks into the election, cross their fingers, and dodge contracts made while people took advantage of the fact of competition in the marketplace.

   I have written before that we need single-payer in this country: medicare for all. Even with the compromise reached in the ACA, the insurance companies will do their best to squeeze every nickel they can squeeze. I intend to continue to shop, and be thankful the ACA passed It is not the single-payer many of us wanted, but it is a hell of a lot better than we would have had.

 

 

 

 

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Comment by Paul K. Ogden on July 5, 2012 at 10:34am

Actually Obamacare wasn't "declared constitutional."  The Court only considered the constitutionality of the individual mandate and the state Medicaid mandate.  The Court said the former was constitutional as a tax and the latter was unconstitutional.

The problem with insurance has always been a lack of competition which you point out. But instead of going in that direction, you want a single payor (i.e. socialism) system.  So you just want a gov't monopoly on the delivery of health care.  Monopolies, whether gov't or private sector, are inevitably inefficient.

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