You see, every year in June, approximately three weeks before my birthday, I receive a premium increase notice from my health insurer, Blue Cross of Florida. The first year it happened, I was somewhat startled. "Why" I wondered, did I get an increase in my monthly premium? I never used my insurance other than for a wellness exam. I subscribe to a healthy lifestyle, which includes a morning bike ride or walk and a healthy diet. I take no prescription medications. Well, the answer, I discovered, is because, they can. Health insurers are allowed to raise your monthly premium annually, using your birthday as a reason for them to celebrate. So now, each year, I play a pre-birthday game with my health insurer. I raise my deductible ( current $3500 ) or change my plan, in order to obtain health insurance I can afford. This year, my health insurance premium will be greater than my monthly mortgage, and it makes me wonder how much longer I will be able to maintain a private practice.
So, what do I receive for that hefty price tag? Well, I haven't made my way thru the large booklet that arrived in the mail, with bold instructions to: "read contract thoroughly," but the real answer will be revealed when I file a claim. Because, as a provider I am all too aware of the disclaimer that is always tagged on to the voice mail message of an eligibility and benefits check. You know, the one that can only exist in the business of health insurance: "this is no guarantee of payment."
I think even President Obama may have gotten this one wrong. The privilege as an American citizen, is not being able to buy health insurance, rather, it is being able to know with full transparency in language we understand, that the health insurance we are purchasing will pay for our care should we need it, leaving the decisions about the efficacy of that care to the health care providers.
For this year, at least, the check is in the mail, and I am going to turn my thoughts to more pleasant things, like how "I'm not getting older but better, etc!" Coming soon....
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