The Ghostwriter



What do rock stars, great athletes, and your health insurance company have in common?  Ghostwriters.  We know, instinctively, that a paid professional collected the recollections of the guitar slinger or the Hall of Fame running back and crafted a readable book, but we expect our insurers to write their own client letters.

That all changed this past spring.

My June 27th post, And Now A Note From The Department of Gobbledygook, detailed the fear and confusion caused by a letter sent by the insurance companies this past June.  The letter, sent to insureds with non-grandfathered pre-2014 policies, was not written by Medical Mutual or Anthem Blue Cross.  It was authored by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The insurers were not allowed to edit the letter for clarity.  They were not allowed to move a comma.

It turns out that the people who gave us the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) had other career goals.  They wanted to be writers.  A new government penned letter is on its way.  And this one is no better than the last one.

The new letter, due out any day now, will be sent to people who purchased a policy on the Exchange. It will encourage you to revisit to update your info.  It will not, however, tell you that your 2014 policy has been changed for 2015.  No, the letter will state that your policy has been DISCONTINUED.

Any change – deductible, co-payment, maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) – will generate this scary notification. I have not seen the letter, but if it is anything like June’s, a quick reading will give you the impression that you are being thrown out into the cold.  You are not.  You will have plenty of options.

  1. Do nothing. The insurer will move you to the 2015 policy closest to your current coverage.
  2. You can go back to the Exchange and look at your current insurer’s other offerings.
  3. You can go back to the Exchange and look at all of your choices.
  4. You can purchase an off-Exchange policy and skip the whole process. There is no tax credit subsidy with this option.

Please remember:

  • All 2014 and beyond policies will renew on January 1st no matter when you make your purchase.  That even includes policies acquired in the last few weeks.
  • The 2015 rates for both renewals and new business have yet to be released. We might not see those numbers until after the election.
  • If you purchased a policy through, you must go back to the Exchange to make any change, even a change of address.

We are only a few weeks away from our second try at open enrollment. By default, this year will go more smoothly than last.  Stay calm.  Don’t get too aggravated by the ghostwritten letters or the system crashes.  Like last year, we will persevere.

In the words of John Lennon, “Everything will be okay in the end.  If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

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