Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My health insurance premium goes through the roof & I’m mad as… November 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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But still, I was hopeful it wasn’t.

And I am raging mad. I’d write mad as h*** except I prefer not to swear.

On Monday I received a packet of information from my health insurance carrier, PreferredOne. It contained not a single word of good news.

The letter I received from my health insurance carrier.

The letter I received from my health insurance carrier.

Instead, I was notified that, if I stay with my current SignatureChoice Plus plan with a $2,000 deductible, copay and 100 percent coinsurance, my monthly premium will skyrocket a whopping 76 percent.

That’s right. Seventy-six percent.

My new monthly premium, effective January 1, will be $777 compared to my current $441.

Are you kidding? I cannot even begin to express how angry I am at this ridiculous rate increase. If this is affordable health insurance, then I wonder what the definition is of unaffordable health insurance.

Likewise, my husband is seeing a similar increase in the cost of his health insurance. His employer pays half his premium, which will be $778/month effective January 1.

We insure our college-aged son, too, through a plan offered at his East Coast university. At $185/month, that seems dirt cheap.

I have no idea what we are going to do. None. But to pay $1,351/month in health insurance premiums is not affordable on our income.

Some of my choices if I stay with PreferredOne.

Some of my choices if I stay with PreferredOne.

I will spend the next few weeks exploring options. After my nightmarish experience with MNSure last year, I am hesitant to try that route. But I’ll grit my teeth, bite my tongue (maybe), attempt to check my disdain and wade through the process which is sure to anger and frustrate me. I anticipate a system overload as nearly 60 percent of those purchasing insurance through MNSure last year were with PreferredOne. Now that Golden Valley based company has dropped out of MNSure and all those folks, plus individuals like me, will be shopping for new plans.

Early on I was optimistic that healthcare reform might work, that costs might be contained, that the average person could afford health insurance. No more.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Are you, like my husband and me, facing unaffordable health insurance premiums? What are you going to do?

What’s your take on this mess? At whom should my anger be directed? Politicians? Health insurance companies? Who?

We need some accountability here.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


36 Responses to “My health insurance premium goes through the roof & I’m mad as…”

  1. Kevin K. Says:

    Pretty much exactly the same thing happened to us. Same reaction, also.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    I am so sorry. I saw on the news last week that this was coming for a lot of Minnesotans and I wondered if you were going to be one of the unlucky ones and obviously you are. What a mess. It is a ridiculous amount to be asked to pay in comparison to what you had been paying and I honestly wish I had an answer. Since I am not working Chris’s company has to include me on his —-I do know we pay a pretty fair chunk but they are changing carriers in January so it will change again. Hopefully for the better but I won’t hold my breath. I have no idea who to blame. I have heard a few who are only pro the new choices because it works for them—but the majority I hear are people like you who are getting hit with high payments. Wish I had an answer.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    I think the Affordable Care Act missed the mark; the title is very misleading. Reforming health care is riddled with all sorts of landmines I am sure, but that is not excuse. An almost 50% increase is hard to swallow at any coverage/income level. I don’t know what the answer is, but clearly this isn’t it. I don’t know if blame can be solidly placed in one direction or the other or all directions even, but I do know that those responsible for getting this done are toying with peoples livelihoods and their well-being.

  4. Thankful that ours hasn’t gone up yet! Good luck finding a better company to go with. I think we all know who to thank on that one!#!#

  5. treadlemusic Says:

    And that “Act” hasn’t even been fully implemented yet!!! In the news it was reported that there are ppl who are signing up for insurance 1 year at a time and the companies seem to have different/better(?) premium rates for this. Somehow this ‘side steps’ a lot of the problems but conforms with the govt requirements. Any time there’s govt involvement in a program “bureaucracy” must have the $$$$ to implement/run it and we all pay for that plus all that the insurance companies must spend to conform to such guidelines. Organizations such as AARP lobbied hard FOR this program and that is why we dropped out of that group. I am for LESS govt and that is definitely not where we are at!!!! So sorry for your current dilemma and pray a solution will be forthcoming. Hugs………….

    • Yes, the current healthcare reform is pretty much a mess. I bet lots of consumers are facing the same rate hikes my husband and I are.

      I don’t understand the portion of your comment about getting better rates upon signing up a year at a time. That’s what I do. Each year I must renew.

      • treadlemusic Says:

        There are those who are finding more reasonable rates with their carriers/in their locales. That was the crux of the article…..no further explanation. I thought it sounded odd. Tom and I deal with this on a different level so am not familiar with the current situation for those still in the workplace.

  6. Ted Aaberg Says:

    That is awful Audrey about the 70 % plus increase. That goes beyond an increase and hits at ones own survival. I hope you are able to get a subsidy, you certainly have one coming to you. Our nation has to do better. I am writing from my sister’s home in Rochester, MN; will be here for a lengthy stay. We plan to go see the eagles in Wabasha, thanks so much for your article about them.

  7. Rena Says:

    I’m so sorry, Audrey! We too, will be facing the same problem, when my husband retires. We know that it will be very hard to budget and get by with high insurance premiums and co-pays… Not to mention the already unavoidable bills! “Do not be anxious about tomorrow…” “But seek first the kingdom of God… and all these things shall be added to you.” We can only appeal to the Lord, trusting Him to be faithful, and to meet our needs. Smiles and sympathies.

  8. Pastor Aaron Brockmeier Says:

    Hi Audrey. I dealt with this last year and ended up switching to Christian Care Ministry a Christian Medi-Share Alternative. My family and I have been very well pleased with them for the past 11 months. We’ve had a number of friends who have had switched too. http://bit.ly/19N24RU

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Pastor Aaron. I just checked this out, but need to look more in-depth at the program.

      Have you been able to utilize this program at local clinics and the Faribault hospital? It’s important to me that I can get my care in town.

      • Pastor Aaron Brockmeier Says:

        Audrey, we’ve used it locally. They continue to update providers and I believe there are a number now in town. It is a little unique in that it doesn’t function exactly as Health Insurance but still provides the same benefits. They’ve been very helpful when we’ve called with questions. I hope you find some good options for you and your family. Blessings, Pastor Aaron

      • Alright. That’s good to know. Thank you.

        Anyone else out there have experience with Christian Care Ministry. I’d like to hear from those who have used this program.

        One more question, Pastor Aaron: Does this program count as “health insurance” so I’m not penalized for not having health insurance?

      • pastorbrockmeier Says:

        You would not be penalized. There is an exemption for members of Healthcare Sharing Ministries.

  9. Jeffrey Says:

    I’m not sure whats going on. I just helped my parents to sign up as their current plan was discontinued. However, I was surprised that they got a better plan for LOWER premiums. Politics and the insurance companies are much to blame for much of the uproar. I actually believe that overall, costs will go down for the health care system as those that didn’t get preventative or adequate care previously, or went to emergency care for everything on the tax payer’s dime, will now be healthier or will go to more appropriate care facilities. Higher costs now could equal much lower costs later. Insurance companies don’t want the current plan (Obamacare) because it hurts their bottom line. I believe they will, in some cases, use every means possible to stop it – including perhaps gauging plan members above and beyond normal yearly increases to cause anger, dissent and to lay blame to the current administration. Politicians, of coarse, use every changing situation to create fear and anger. Poor planning and less than intelligent computer/software/IT developers didn’t help the situation on any level. I have heard of many people that are forced to pay much more and others that are much much better off with the new situation in many cases including those with previous conditions. I may be a bit too hopeful or naive, but maybe someday the better good will be served first before $$$$$.

    • I see some of your points, Jeffrey. I am thankful for preventative care being covered now because there were tests I did not have previously because of cost. And preventative is better than dealing afterward with a health problem. I get that. I really do. And because I have a pre-existing condition, I was never able to switch insurance plans. I like that I can now do that.

      I’m curious as to what county your parents reside in. I don’t understand why there’s such a difference in premiums based on where you live.

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    I remember your post from last year. I don’t know how they expect people to budget for those sorts of increases. Health insurance here isn’t as expensive but we are seeing rapid increases in costs also and if you don’t take out private cover, the government taxes you more so you’re in a no-win situation. For our family (and all of our kids are under our cover), we were paying around $435/month which increases every year on April 1. However, I just received a letter from my insurer saying the plan I’m on has been cancelled and I’ve automatically been transferred into a new plan that is $475/month and instead of getting back 85% of all claims I’m now only getting back 75%. Of course I phoned them and went on and on and on about the injustice of it all and all their false advertising about how under their policy there will only be one increase per year but I’ve had two in six months but guess where that got me! They know they can get away with it because you can’t cancel because then the government will tax more of your income. The tax office and all insurance companies are iniquitous. I wish you well in sorting out how to deal with your injustice xx

    • Our government will now penalize us also if we do not carry health insurance. Not that I want to be without coverage anyway given my age.

      I thought of phoning the insurance company yesterday, but thought better of it given my anger. Best to settle down. I figured it would not do any good anyway.

      Your monthly premiums are incredibly reasonable compared to ours.

  11. Thread crazy Says:

    So sorry to hear of your dilemma Audrey – what a horrible way to start the new year by paying more monies for health insurance. All we can do is trust the Lord to help see us through this mess. I truly believe Obamacare and those that approved and passed the bill that included this mess, should themselves be forced to take the insurance and pay the premiums they have forced on the rest of Americans. Maybe the basic plan appeared to be workable; unfortunately the end result appears to be a train wreck. I will keep you in my prayers for patience and clarity as you maneuver through this mess and hopefully find another insurance company.

    • Yes, perhaps if the powers that be had to pay the premiums, enduring these overwhelming rate increases, they might make some changes.

      Thank you for your prayers. I am confident I will figure something out that we can afford.

  12. Jackie Says:

    I’m so sorry for this horrific increase in your insurance. I hope you will be able to find something more affordable…ugh!

  13. I feel your pain. We had to re-up for insurance and had to agree to a $5,000 deductible because the premiums were out of sight with a lower one. (The premiums are still high.) So we hope we don’t get sick or have injuries next year. It sure stinks.

  14. Lala in Red Wing Says:

    The insurance that we have, for a family of four, is pricey at $1400 per month and a $7000 deductible. However, coverage for anything catastrophic would be superb–no maximum. And that seems to me the nature of insurance. As a self-employed family, our premiums are tax deductible as are contributions to our medical savings account. I max what I put into that account, even though I have to turn around and take it right back out. It seems like a game, but come tax time, it works! Total tax savings probably reduces our premiums by half. I hope you are taking every tax advantage available.

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