Today, November 1, 2020, is the first day of Open Enrollment for individuals and families who are under age 65 and purchase their own health insurance. Over the last two weeks I’ve sent emails or hand-written notes to my clients about their policy renewals. I spent today in my office contacting the last several dozen of them. One by one I review each of my client’s 2021 policy options. Some have premiums increasing as much as 8%. Some premiums are actually decreasing. Most of my clients will see a small bump of 3% – 5%. More interesting than the numbers are the stories, the people who own those policies and who depend on them to provide access and payment for health care.
I got a call in the last days of Open Enrollment last year from one of my regular readers. She had a friend who needed me. Her friend, Linda (name changed for obvious reasons), was in the middle of a health emergency. She had been diagnosed with a potentially life-ending condition that required immediate attention. Her medical care was guaranteed to cost at least $100,000, probably more, needed to begin as soon as possible, and she didn’t have any health insurance. My reader wanted to know if I would help.
Why didn’t Linda have health insurance? I asked her. Her answer was that she had been healthy and had better ways to spend the money than on insurance. Since she didn’t have to have insurance, she didn’t. We all know lots of Linda’s. But The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has a true Open Enrollment. We don’t ask any health questions. You don’t have to have prior coverage. Preexisting conditions are covered. If given a choice, no insurer would take Linda. They didn’t have a choice. I got Linda health insurance.
I thought about this as I processed Linda’s renewal. And that is what is at stake. Linda got the same access to the world class health care that every other insured greater Clevelander enjoys. The system would work better if everyone, healthy and unhealthy, participated. It is difficult to create a health care payment system based on the sick and the responsible.
We need everyone.
Picture – Tools Of The Trade – David L Cunix