I got my first call last week from my client Wendy who is not only a talented real estate agent, but also someone who reads all of her mail. She recognized the correspondence “from” Medical Mutual of Ohio as possibly another letter from our frustrated novelists at the department of Health and Human Services. She was correct. Worse, it appears that HHS sent the same badly worded, scare tactic laden missive that was sent last year. MMO, like last year, was forbidden from changing even a comma. In that spirit I give you the same response I published last year.
The calls started coming in last week.
Dave, I want to keep my current policy.
Well of course you do. We had this conversation in October.
Yeah, well I got a letter that said that I had to call in to Medical Mutual if I want to keep my policy, so I called you.
You got a letter? I wasn’t copied. I have no idea what you’re talking about. Would you read the letter to me?
The client read the letter to me over the phone. It was long and rambling and sounded more like a request for him to dump his old cost effective policy in favor of a new contract than anything else.
That came from MMO?
Yes. It came in today’s mail.
Do me a favor. Scan and email it to me or fax it over.
The letter had, in fact, been sent by Medical Mutual to the client. Identical letters were sent by the insurance companies to all insureds with non-grandfathered policies. Identical. The letters were prepared by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The insurance companies were forbidden to move a comma. If the objective was to confuse and/or frighten the people who have to this point avoided the government’s website, then they have finally managed to find an achievable goal.
Some Americans are well-served by the new health care law. If you are purchasing insurance for yourself and your family and you
- Need maternity coverage
- Have preexisting conditions
- Would qualify for a premium subsidy
You might benefit from a new health insurance policy. But if you are healthy and/or don’t qualify for the subsidy, you probably want to keep your old policy.
A surprisingly large number of people want to keep their old policies.
The initial pushback resulted in the Obama Administration granting Transitional Relief, the ability to keep certain existing, non-grandfathered policies for 2014. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in March that we were getting another 2 years and possibly more.
The Good News – My current policy is $400 per month less than a comparable 2014 plan. I am not alone.
The Bad News – Allowing the healthy to avoid the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) for another couple of years spells higher rates for those in the system.
So to avoid upsetting millions of people the President and CMS are letting you keep your current policy. To avoid upsetting millions of people with ridiculous rate increases HHS is trying to get you to voluntarily dump your old policy. Hence the letter. If you give up your current policy, as opposed to having it taken from you, then you are part of the system by choice.
Don’t Do Anything
If you get the letter, the one that tells you that you can keep your current plan and then lists eight bullet points of what you are missing by not switching to a new health plan, you don’t need to do anything. Nothing. You will still get your renewal notice in a timely fashion. You will have the opportunity to keep your current policy and pay the new 2014/2015 rate. Or you will be able to shop for a policy under the new rules. There is no need to do anything today. That especially means that there is no need to get nervous or aggravated today.
The government’s website, the national frustration number, and letters like this prove again that the people in charge really didn’t know what they were doing when they invaded my business. The purpose of insurance is twofold – money and peace of mind. You write small checks to the insurance company so that if, G-d forbid, you get really sick or injured we’ll write the really big checks to the doctors and hospitals. And peace of mind, the knowledge that this will all work.
There is no gobbledygook on the path to peace of mind.