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Commentary: I hope I can keep my health care plan

by on November 03, 2013 2:40 AM

I like my individual health care insurance. Apparently, I’m one of the lucky ones: I get to keep it. For now. I can hold onto my policy only because my health-insurance company has chosen not to be part of any government insurance exchange.

As we know from the news stories exploding this week, millions of Americans are having their individual health care policies canceled as of the end of the year. The policies are no longer “allowed” because they don’t comply with Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) mandates and provide extensive benefits like pediatric dental and maternity — whether one can use those things or not.

President Barack Obama promised several times during the push to get Obamacare passed that anyone who had a health care policy he liked could keep it. Of course, that wasn’t true. My high-schooler with a basic economics class under her belt could have told him that. Actually, if Obama really believed that — well, that level of ignorance would be its own scandal.

But I digress.

I am keeping my inexpensive plan as long as I’m allowed to. Here’s why: It’s a so-called catastrophic policy with a very high annual deductible — $10,000. However, insurance would cover all expenses above that. And I can’t be kicked off as long as I pay my premium of a few hundred dollars each month.

I experienced this in real life, not just theory.

Last fall, 10 days before my remarriage, I had a “catastrophic” event. Because of an MRI for another issue that turned out to be completely benign, I discovered I had an unruptured cerebral aneurysm. (As I’ve written before, later clipping surgery, in January, completely corrected the problem.)

Just those initial tests and hospital expenses ran close to $30,000. But my insurance company brought that down via lower contracted rates with providers that they passed on to me, so that I didn’t even meet my deductible for the year. Look, it was still no small feat paying those expenses, but my insurance worked exactly as I wanted it to. In contrast, a common low-deductible high-coverage plan would be wildly expensive on one’s own. I remember pricing one years ago at around $1,500 a month for someone my age. I came out ahead. Do the math.

And by the way, this policy goes with me wherever I go — in other words, it’s not attached to my employment. One of the many reasons I prefer an individual policy.

In fact, I like this plan so much, and it is inexpensive enough, that I am — gasp! — keeping it even though I can now be covered by my husband’s employer-provided policy. We like the flexibility that having my plan gives us. (We can decide year to year which will likely make more economic sense for us.)

I don’t want to risk dropping it. I naturally fear not getting it back!

I’m sorry for all my peers having the individual plans they chose canceled because their insurance companies fall under Obamacare control. Those people who will be forced to instead buy expensive insurance they don’t want or need.

Oh, and if they can’t afford these expensive plans or just don’t want to pay for them, or can’t get them at all because of the problems with the government’s insurance-exchange website? They may be forced to go without insurance (paying the fine for being uninsured instead). Nice.

With outrage pouring in because millions of people are being personally affected by the fallout of Obamacare, is there a chance we will repeal or at least limit the Affordable Care Act? I don’t know.

I do know that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., once famously said, “But we have to pass the (health care) bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

Well, they did — and now, at last, we are.

Reach Betsy Hart at www.betsysblog.com.



Betsy Hart's column, "From the Hart," is distributed by Scripps Howard News service.
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