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


20 Responses to “Why my blood pressure is rising”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Back in ’99 I got serious about finding “gainful” employment (my own business did a better job of channeling $$$ to the State of MN!!!) since my yearly SS statement told me I could expect $0 in payments and DH was looking at retiring in very few years and we would need health care coverage for him and for myself until the age of 65. Today’s situation is more and more employers are not hiring “full time” ppl so that the expense of insurance can be bypassed thus removing needed $$ from the ins. money ‘pool’. Also, those choices of “toys” rather than med. coverage weigh heavily, too. Just sayin’…..there are many more that are needing med. services (and paying high ins. rates) than the healthy, younger ones who just pay in and don’t cost the companies anything. Couple all that with a litigious society (the cost of malpractice ins is unreal and must be in place), a medical community whose costs have risen phenomenally and whose reimbursements have all but disappeared, and a rising segment of pop. relying on state med. aid (plus many more factors of ‘today’) and it’s a recipe for crazy high premiums with little to show for return/coverage. There is much more that will impact Seniors in the coming days/years under the ObamaCare label that is equally not good for those of us on shrinking ‘fixed’ incomes & rising costs. It is the ‘day’ we live in, I am afraid!!!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    I feel your pain. It seems like it is an ever escalating problem and one that really has no good solution from the looks of it. People who have company plans are also noticing the difference. For us the cost is taken out of the pay without us even seeing it so somehow it makes it easier to not have to physically “write a check” and be reminded every month of how much is going towards health care. Our FSA account which has been a wonderful thing is being eliminated next year so no more benefit of having no payroll taxes taken out of money set aside for medical bills. Sigh. I can understand your angst over this—and I do not envy your foray into Mnsure. Sounds daunting to say the least. Hang in there. You can do it.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, I think when the premium is automatically deducted from the paycheck, it doesn’t seem quite as painful. Randy does have an HSA account, which is nice. Sorry to hear yours will be taken away; doesn’t help the situation at all.

      Nope, I’m not looking forward to sorting through Mnsure. But if I can get a better plan, with preventative medical coverage, for example, at the same or a lower premium cost, it will be worth my time and angst.

  3. Jackie Says:

    I’m of no help at all, which makes me feel kind of dumb!
    i have the basics down with health coverage that our family has through Mayo, but that’s all I know. Rick pretty much takes care of all that business, I’m sorry you have to “muddle” through all that stuff, but I tell you I’m impressed that you do! I really need to be more informed…I’m not getting any younger, and I might even impress my husband by “knowing” something. Good luck my friend, sending good vibes your way 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I think we all feel kind of “dumb” when it comes to figuring out health insurance, etc. It’s not exactly the easiest thing to sort through as I have learned through the years. You are, indeed, fortunate that Rick handles this. Neither Randy or I like dealing with this and I do by reason of default, but not without a lot of complaining. I’m sure he tires of hearing me rant, especially in January when I’m pulling numbers together for taxes and the FAFSA form. Did I mention that I don’t like numbers? Oh, yes, I did.

      • Jackie Says:

        Fortunately with my profession I only had to take the very basics of college math….. I don’t like numbers either, another thing we have in common 🙂

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Me, too. The very basics of college math. I’ve always struggled with math…

  4. Julie Fakler Says:

    I know, I feel the same way. I’ve been on an individual plan for 10 years now(no benefits where I work). It goes up every year with no new benefits. I went to the doctor this spring for an annual check up with blood work, over $900. I never get to my deductible. At least I hope I never do.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, it is a good thing not to get to your deductible because you don’t want to health-wise. But an annual check-up should be covered. (Mine isn’t either.) It sounds like you and I are paddling in the same boat. Let me know when you figure it all out because I’d love a tutorial on affordable health insurance with actual benefits.

  5. Allan Says:

    Welcome to Obamacare!!! Things will only get worse. Wait until Apr 15th this coming year, when people who have no health insurance, will be FINED, and taken from their accounts if not paid within a timeline. I do not like to get political, but this is an “Obamanation” of our American Rights. A tax will be taken out automatically when you sell your home, and that comes off the top before, realtor fees, closing costs, appraisals etc. When this man was elected, we knew nothing about him, and now after his 2nd election, we know even less!!! Needless to say, they only people to benefit from “Obamacare”, are the ones who do not, or will not work, and few who actually pay taxes. Sick! And to think our brave young people fighting wars for us to keep us safe, are being undermined right here in America’s heartland. Wake up people, start calling your representatives and rebel. And by the way, if Obamacare is such a good thing, why isn’t that the Senators and Representives are not included in this policy? They have their own SUPER FREE coverage, compliments of us, the tax payers. Think I am wrong? Start reading the tome like Obamacare “booklet” And those of us over 50, forget about any replacement parts, that is only for the younger people. We will get 50.00 a piece aspirin, and told to start planning our death. I know a lot of your readers of this blog will think I am a nut, but it is all true, and found in the Obamacare bill. Remember what Pelosi said, ” we have to vote for this, before we know what’s in it, as it is so good.” GOOD FOR WHOM? Sorry about my soap box, delete this if you want, but this is my true, heartfelt feeling on this subject.

  6. Yes, health insurance forms are right up there with taxes and student loan applications – YUCKO!!! I have a feeling in 2014 that as a married couple we will be on 2 different plans, which means more forms, higher costs and more expenses and confusion.

  7. ryanware Says:

    All because it was super important to pass legislation that no one had a chance to read. How can that lead to bad things?

    This is the same insurance that for many is helping shorten their work week to less than 30 hours. Well, at any one employer anyway.

    I would say it’s a joke, except it’s not. It’s more of a nightmare.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I am not looking forward to sorting through this. I went on to the MnSure website the other day and tried to find specifics on how much a plan would cost me and what plans are available. But after an extensive search, I still could not figure it out. Sigh.

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