It’s that time of year where many employed by larger companies, choose our benefits for the coming year. For those unfamiliar with this, it’s called “the cafeteria plan.” The employer provides a number of benefit options for healthcare, dental and vision care, life insurance, long and short-term disability plans and others. My employer also has options for health and childcare savings plans.
The company provides some up-front cash for the employer’s subsidy and you can then choose your benefits from the list. If the cost of your benefits exceed the amount provided by your employer, the difference is taken out of your paycheck.
For years, I’ve chosen a PPO option for myself and for my wife. It was of reasonable cost, deductible and our personal physicians accepted the plan. It was NOT an HMO and did not have the restrictions that make HMOs infamous. We also had a separate prescription plan that was very reasonable. Both my wife and myself take maintenance drugs for blood pressure and for me, cholesterol. I’ve been taking Crestor for a couple of years. Outside on my plan, Crestor would cost well over $1000 for a 3-months supply.
In a benefits briefing recently, I was told my PPO option would no longer be available. I had a choice of moving to an HMO or to a new Health Savings Plan. In addition, the prescription plans were now rolled into the two health options instead of being a separate plan. That means that younger folks who do not have regular prescriptions, or only an occasional prescription will be forced to pay for a prescription whether they want one or not. No reason was given for the changes other than the rise in costs. For me personally, this means an increase in healthcare premium costs from $72 each 2-week pay-period to around $120 each pay-period—almost doubling my healthcare premium costs deducted out of my pay-check.
The Health Savings plan also has a high deductible—$750 per individual or $1500 per family. The embedded prescription plan also has a deductible of the same, $750 for one or $1500 per family. It isn’t clear yet if the deductible for the savings account plan and the prescription plan are separate or merged. It appears to be separate. That means my yearly deductible would be $3000 per year vs. $600 under my previous PPO/Prescription plan.
Hows that change for ya? I’ll be forced into the HMO because I can’t afford the new deductible. The health savings plan is great for the younger employees who are healthy and have few medical needs. It’s terrible for us older folks nearing retirement.
I can understand why my employer is going this route. Health costs are going up. The economy is in the toilet and there’s not much hope on the horizon for improvement. The dems WILL BE raising taxes on individuals and corporations to pay for their $1 Trillion and higher spending spree and they have turned the money presses on full which will create inflation. That is a fact of economics. Companies are trying to position themselves to minimize the tax and economic impact of Obamacare. It’s difficult due to all the differing versions. But benefit changes will continue unless FedMed/Obamacare is killed—permanently.
But, I’m not alone. My Daughter and Son-in-law have the individual Blue-Cross/Blue-Shield Affordacare plan. I don’t know what their premium costs for their family of five. But, the pressure from Obamacare will force it up. The Wall Street Journal just published a study of Blue Cross costs by WellPoint. WellPoint is the underwriter for BC/BS in several states.
Here’s a comment from the WellPoint study.
At the request of Congressional delegations worried about their constituents—call it a public service—WellPoint mined its own actuarial data to model ObamaCare in the 14 states where it runs Blue Cross plans. The study therefore takes into account market and demographic differences that other industry studies have not, such as the one from the trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans, which looked at aggregate national trends.
In all of the 14 states WellPoint scrutinized, ObamaCare would drive up premiums for the small businesses and individuals who are most of WellPoint’s customers. (Other big insurers, like Aetna, focus on the market among large businesses.) Young and healthy consumers will see the largest increases—their premiums would more than triple in some states—though average middle-class buyers will pay more too.
In fact, what distinguishes the Wellpoint study is its detailed rigor. Take Ohio, where a young, healthy 25-year-old living in Columbus can purchase insurance from WellPoint today for about $52 per month in the individual market. WellPoint’s actuaries calculate the bill will rise to $79 because Democrats are going to require it to issue policies to anyone who applies, even if they’ve waited until they’re sick to buy insurance. Then they’ll also require the company to charge everyone nearly the same rate, bringing the premium to $134. Add in an extra $17, since Democrats will require higher benefit levels, and a share of the new health industry taxes ($6), and monthly premiums have risen to $157, a 199% boost.
Meanwhile, a 40-year-old husband and wife with two kids would see their premiums jump by 122%—to $737 from $332—while a small business with eight employees in Franklin County would see premiums climb by 86%. It’s true that the family or the individual might qualify for subsidies if their incomes are low enough, but the business wouldn’t qualify under the Senate Finance bill WellPoint examined. And even if there are subsidies, the new costs the bill creates don’t vaporize. They’re merely transferred to taxpayers nationwide—or financed with deficits, which will be financed eventually with higher taxes.
A family of four with average health in those same cities would all face cost increases of 122% buying insurance on the individual market. And it’s important to understand that these are merely the new costs created by ObamaCare—not including the natural increases in medical costs over time from new therapies and the like.
Democrats have been selling health care as one huge free lunch in which everyone gets better insurance while paying less. But the policy facts simply don’t add up, and Democrats are attacking WellPoint because they don’t want anyone to understand what their health-care schemes will mean in practice. Democrats know that if the public is given the facts and the time to consider them, Americans might demand that Democrats stop pushing the country off this cliff and start all over.
To quote a favorite author of mine—TANSTAAFL. “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” There have been people filmed on TV who thinks all this government handout is free—without costs. They’ve been lied to by the democrats for generations and they’ll not take lightly anyone whom they view as taking away their free lunch. “It’s Obama money that he gives out from his ‘stash,” said one interviewee in Milwaukee.
But such an action is inevitable because the nation cannot sustain the costs of the democrat give-aways. What will happen with the bubble bursts? Whatever comes, it won’t be pretty.