I finally got off my lazy behind and attended a Feb. 16th Town Hall Meeting hosted by our 6th District U.S. Congressman Mike Coffman. Admittedly I had selfish motives as I wanted to express my concerns about recent changes in my insurance premiums. When the microphone came to me my comments were, to paraphrase:
“This is about health insurance. I am a free market and limited government person, and I loathe the current health care legislation attempting to be passed in Congress.
There have been reports in the news in the last week or two about Anthem Blue Cross Insurance in California raising insurance premiums 34% this year. Secretary of Health Katherine Sebelius is looking into it as this is considered an unconscionable increase, and the company has delayed the increase as a result of the bad press.
My health insurance premiums for this year have been raised ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-NINE PERCENT, from $235 per month to $563 per month, and I haven’t heard a whisper in the news.
This increase is for the same plan I had last year. It isn’t even a “Cadillac” plan, though I feel like I’m buying someone in the insurance industry a Cadillac. This is health care run amok.
I’d be grateful if you would review this increase data I have for you, and if you have the opportunity please pass it on to Secretary Sebelius. Thank you.”
I did not expect a specific solution. I just wanted Mike and others to know about the situation. Mike’s response to me and to other health care queries throughout the evening were consistent with my own opinions. We need free market solutions, health care portability, and cross-state competition and availability of health insurance plan choices. The current proposed health care legislation may well be illegal to mandate, or force, individuals to obtain health insurance. The proposed attempt to pass the legislation in piece-meal fashion via Budget Reconciliation may also be illegal.
I’m very much opposed to government control of anything, including health care, and I’m very frustrated with a free market industry (Aetna Insurance in my case) that contracts to assist you with the delicate and personal issue of your health and then increases your premium by a huge multiple with a few weeks, take it or leave it, notice. I essentially had no choice but to take the single, expensive, option offered, or be without health care. (FYI it is a company provided retirement medical plan, from which I will be dropped anyway when I turn 65 in a year.) I will be investigating other insurance plans in the meantime, though I suspect it may be a difficult search due to my successful prostate cancer surgery last year. Also in the meantime I plan to pursue the usual letter-writing campaign expressing my dissatisfaction.
One thing that irks me most is that I have paid into the company provided plan (different insurers over the years, negotiated by the company) for over 24 years. All well and good when I was younger, healthier, and less expensive to the insurance companies. Now that I’m on pre-65 retiree medical (and still paying premiums) they have one more year to extract a pound of flesh from me.
Of course none of this is likely to bring a tear to the many who have NO insurance at all.
Caught between big brother, I’ll-run-your-life, government, and a cut-throat “your money, or/AND your life” insurance industry, a rock and a hard place have never looked so unwelcoming.
By the way, the Town Hall Meeting was well attended and informative. Mike Coffman is a GREAT representative and I trust we will keep him in office for as long as he wishes to be there. He spoke well on the many issues brought before him, and his recurring themes are limited government, self-responsibility, and individual freedom.