Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Why my blood pressure is rising September 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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I live on one of Faribault's busiest residential streets, also a main route for the ambulance which is based near my home.

My Faribault home sits along an arterial street, also a main route for the local ambulance service. Here the ambulance passes by a neighbor’s house. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

ON THE SAME DAY last week when I received my $1,362 bill for three months of health insurance coverage, I also got a letter about health care reform from my insurance carrier.

And I am not happy. Not happy at all.

In a box under “What you should know,” I read this:

Your health plan will continue to be offered with no change in benefits, but may have higher premiums because of increases in the cost and use of medical care.

Great. I already pay $454 a month for coverage and seldom see a doctor. And now I’ll likely spend more for no more.

I cannot afford higher premiums, especially for a plan with a $3,000 deductible and benefits that, to be frank, can be considered only of value should I need major medical care. Yes, I’ve shopped for other insurance but because I have a pre-existing condition—an artificial hip which will need replacing in 10 – 15 years—I couldn’t find a plan to cover that.

The letter informs me that my long-time plan is grandfathered in and thus not covered by health care reform. Never mind that; I’ll still be charged more for nothing new.

That was made quite clear to me again a few lines later:

Rates for most plans will increase. That’s because the overall use of health care services is increasing, and the cost for health care services, such as hospital and physician visits, also continues to rise.

Last year my family paid nearly $9,000 in health insurance premiums for three adults. I know already that the cost will be at least $10,000 this year as the 19-year-old’s premiums (under a different plan through the college he attends) have doubled. My husband and I also each saw increases in our premiums from 2012.

Craziness, I say. Pure craziness to spend that much money on health insurance premiums.

I plan to muddle through Mnsure, the new online marketplace for health insurance. I bet that will be a barrel of fun.

Did I mention that I dislike wading through health insurance info as much as I dislike doing taxes and completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid? I don’t like numbers. I don’t like forms. I don’t like sorting through complicated information.

Speaking of choices, I don’t understand why some Minnesotans will have up to five insurance companies offering coverage in their counties through Mnsure, while others will have only two available in their counties of residence. Explain that one. In my county of Rice, I will have three choices. I was expecting way more insurance company options, like maybe twenty. Competition tends to drive down prices. Right?

If I sound a little worked up, I am. I’m just tired of the ever-rising cost of health insurance and health care. How about you? Now it’s your turn. Go ahead. Tell me what you think of health care reform, health insurance premiums and the cost of health care.

FYI: Click here to read a special MPR report on Mnsure.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling