Two years ago I wrote an article about health insurance rate hikes and the so-called death spiral. At the time I was happily insured. I’m sad to say I’ve now had to join the death spiral.
The Death Spiral
Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote two years ago:
“Health insurance representatives say that medical costs have gone up, which results in a relatively standard rise in health insurance rates. And that’s when things take another turn for the worse: In today’s economy, many people can’t afford those higher premiums, so they decide to stop buying health insurance. Those who are healthy — that is, those for whom health insurance doesn’t seem like a must-have — are particularly likely to opt out of health plans when they cost more. The result is fewer people — in particular, fewer healthy people — in the membership pool, which drives average rates up further, which bumps more people out, and so on. This vicious cycle is colorfully termed a “death spiral” in the insurance market.”
My Health Insurance More Than Tripled
I am self-employed and single so I pay for my own individual health insurance plan. I got my insurance about five yeras ago, using eHealthInsurance to try to find the best insurance for me. I got a decent plan with HealthNet for less than $100 per month. And I will say that when I went through debilitating depression and needed weekly therapy and lots of medication it really did come through for me. But the problem is that they kept raising the rates and raising the rates and raising the rates.
For awhile now I’ve been paying $288 per month and that was really a lot of money. It’s not like the plan covers everything; I still had to pay a lot of money out of pocket for situations that arose on top of that monthly payment. I recently received a notice that the monthly amount was going up again, by 14% to $330 per month. I’m just not in a position to pay that much per month for health insurance. It simply can’t happen. So I had to explore other options.
I Don’t Qualify for a Cheaper Plan
When I received the notice from HealthNet it said there might be options to transfer to a cheaper plan. I talked to HealthNet representatives and filed an application but in the end they denied me for a cheaper plan. They cited my history of depression as a pre-existing condition and a reason to deny me. So frustrating.
I contacted eHealthInsurance to see if they could help me. They suggested a plan with BlueShield. I filled out a really lengthy application and then spent an additional thirty minutes on the phone with them answering questions about my depression treatment (which was years ago now) and a sprained ankle I went to the ER for a year and a half ago. They denied me coverage.
I’ve Canceled My Health Insurance
At this point, I don’t really see any viable options for health insurance. I can’t qualify for a cheaper plan and I can’t pay for the plan I already have. I really, really hate the risky idea of not having health insurance but I don’t see any other option. I’ve canceled my health insurance and will just have to see what happens in the months to come.
I do plan to keep exploring my options. Those options include:
- Local health insurance alternatives for the uninsured
- Joining a professional organization to try to get a group rate (such as the National Association for Self-Employed)
- Waiting and hoping something better comes along (either because enough time passes since my treatment to lower my rates or because healthcare changes)
I’m nervous. I don’t like joining the death spiral. But that’s the way it is right now, like it or not.