A way to avoid health insurance sticker shock

PARKVILLE, Mo. — President Obama said Thursday that people will be able to keep their health insurance policies for a year that don’t meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. But is keeping your current policy the best thing for your wallet?   There is an alternative that many with individual coverage are unaware of.

Hope Ashby owns Ashby Automotive, a repair shop in Parkville, Mo. Ashby thought her current health insurance would just keep rolling along. Then she received a letter from Humana saying the policy is being terminated at the end of the year, and she would be switched to a plan that would cost $249 a month. That’s more than $40 a month higher than she’s paying now. The plan has a higher deductible, too. Hope doesn’t qualify for any financial help on the health insurance marketplace healthcare.gov.

“We’re kind of living on a budget so to speak, and then you get smacked down with something like that. It’s concerning,” Ashby said.

Ashby spoke with her independent health insurance broker, Tom Morrill, who told her there is an alternative. You can terminate your current policy on Nov. 30.

“Move to another carrier by Dec. 1, and then they can keep that plan for 12 more months,” said Morrill, the president of the Greater Kansas City Association of Health Underwriters .  “So thereby avoiding the rate shock and avoiding the rate increases we’re seeing.”

Ashby is getting this year’s price before the Jan. 1 increases.  Again, you have to do it by Nov. 30.

“If you’re healthy, it’s time to move to another carrier,” said Morrill.

Morrill found a plan with comparable coverage for Ashby that has a little lower premium than she currently pays. It has the same deductible.

“I feel fortunate I have another option,” said Ashby.

But she realizes it’s just putting off the inevitable for a year.

“I’m fearful, really, of what it’s gonna end up as eventually,” she added.

The insurance broker said the concern is also for people who keep their current policies. The President’s proposal is just postponing cancellation for a year. For 2015, they will have to get policies with the 10 essential benefits, and Morrill said those policies will be pricier.

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