Premium increases could price many out of the market

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In addition to insurance plan cancellations coming in the next few weeks, around November 15 people will start getting notices about what the new pricing will be for their insurance plans in 2015, both on and off the exchanges. The delay has aggravated many people who feel it’s a political ploy to delay the release until after the elections and it seems to me the plan is backfiring. By not releasing the rates and being rather obvious about it, that sends a pretty clear signal that prices are going higher, much higher than anticipated otherwise they would have just released the information. So how much higher can people expect?

I learned that it is possible to get a pretty good idea of those new prices by checking out each states insurance commissioner website. For instance, in Nebraska there’s a link on the Department of Insurance website that gives rate scenarios for 2015. These scenarios are based on the rate requests that had to be submitted by the insurance carriers and approved by the state. After going through the file I can tell the information is a good representation of what people are paying now and will likely have to pay next year. Scenario #3 best fits our family, 2 adults, 2 kids, in the Lincoln area. The Blue Cross 2014 rate on the page is within $100 of what we were asked to pay for a Gold plan before we joined Samaritan. That plan is getting a 20% increase for next year. That would put it close to $1500/month to insure our family of 4.

Reviewing the file shows that CoOportunity Health is going up about 10%, Blue Cross about 20%, Time (Assurant) is up about 16% and Coventry actually went DOWN 3% on average. Down, there’s a concept. Good for them. But even their decreasing rate is way more than I’m willing to pay and it’s still more per month than the one increasing by 10%. This analysis does not compare deductibles and benefits so it’s not an exact apples to apples, but you would hope that a gold plan on one would be fairly similar to a gold plan on another.

The cheapest monthly option with gold level insurance for our family looks like it would be about $1000 on CoOportunity Health vs Samaritan’s family share of $405. So I have to ask myself if I see a $600/month benefit to health insurance over Samaritan. Nope. The “free” checkups would not add up to the extra $7200/yr I’d be spending to have health insurance and I’m still doing quite well buying medications using discount coupons instead of insurance co-pays. A $7200 savings. You might say, “ok, but that’s a gold plan, what about bronze?” Our bronze quote last year was $845, so even a 10% increase would be $930/month vs $405 (which is an annual savings of $6300). And the bronze plans have HUGE deductibles and terrible co-insurance. Samaritan gives me a $300 responsibility and no co-insurance surprises. You just can’t compare the two. Gold (or platinum) get me the closest to the awesomeness of what Samaritan gives us (except I don’t consider $300 vs $1500 deductibles close), and Samaritan is still less than 1/2 of what insurance wants me to pay and with NO restrictions on networks or doctors.

If you want to see what your state is offering for early information use this site (health insurance.org) and choose your state exchange on the right.

If we assume (and until we know hard numbers that’s all we can do) that the average increase is 10-20% across the nation (seems reasonable based on research so far), on already very high premiums, we are looking at a LOT of people who are about to get priced out of the market. Some will change carriers, some will drop a level to bronze or silver, but others will have no way out and will just have to cancel. With or without subsidies (many don’t qualify by either making too much or too little) these people are looking at losing their coverage. I hope they will consider a health care sharing ministry. Samaritan Ministries offers us a much more logical solution for our health care needs. And since it’s pretty clear that any “free” checkups offered by insurance plans actually cost me $6300-$7200 year in extra premiums, it’s pretty clear they are NOT free. Samaritan’s solution makes so much more sense and brings spiritual and financial healing during a medical need. Sorry insurance companies, you won’t get us next year either. We are sticking with Samaritan!

 

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