Home > Obamacare > Got my premium change notice from Wellmark today

Got my premium change notice from Wellmark today

October 22, 2013

johnny_automatic_worried_about_a_billLike many small business owners I get health insurance for my family on the open market. I have Wellmark as my insurance provider and have a plan that I am mostly satisfied with. I say ‘mostly satisfied’ because when I moved from Minnesota back to South Dakota I couldn’t bring that plan with me. If DC really wanted to help the health insurance industry they should have worked to allow selling health insurance across state lines! But that is a battle for a different day. Today’s post has to do with a letter I received from Wellmark today. Here are a couple of relevant excerpts from this letter:

Thank you for choosing Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota for your health insurance needs. In July 2013, you were notified your current health plan benefits would be extended through Dec. 30, 2014. We are excited to offer you the opportunity to keep your current coverage and allow you more time to decide if one of our new plans will better fit your needs in 2014.

In addition to extending your plan, the only increase to your premium will be an adjustment to account for the new federal fees and taxes required by the Affordable Care Acts (ACA). Your premium may also reflect a change in your age or change you have made to your coverage.

So much for getting to keep the plan I currently have. Yes, Wellmark is extending my current plan partly into 2014 but that does help me past that point. I have reviewed all of the plans available on the Wellmark site. None of the new ACA compliant plans are really comparable to my current plan. Remember “you get to keep your current plan” was a huge selling point for ACA. I don’t think anyone truly believed that promise at the time; but that political white lie made back then doesn’t make consumers such as myself feel any better now.

In this letter I noticed the date my policy ended as Dec. 30 of 2014? That seemed odd. So I looked back at the letter I received from Wellmark back in July:

As a Wellmark member, you’ve come to expect exceptional service and value from your health plan. You value the peace of mind in knowing that you have the right plan providing the right level of financial security when you need it. That’s why Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is changing your plan policy year to begin Dec. 31 rather than Jan 1. This allows the extension of your current plan’s benefits through Dec. 30, 2014.

Without this amendment, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it would have been necessary for you to select a new ACA-compliant plan with a policy date effective Jan 1, 2014.

I’m glad I read the letter better this time. On one hand I am happy Wellmark was able to find a way to extend my current coverage a year. However at the same time it will force me to change my plans a month earlier than I anticipated. So far the closest plan I can find to my current plan will cost me over two-hundred more per month. To those being subsidized this might not sound like much. But to a small business owner trying to make payroll and pay bills this is a huge increase. Wealth redistribution programs like ACA have skewed the different between revenue and profit to such a point that redistribution hurts small business owners the most. Changing plans even one month sooner impacts the budget we are currently planning for 2014. I guess this goes along with DC’s war on small business owners.

Going back to the letter I just received. The letter mentions a premium increase due to ACA. The additional fee per month is $27.10. That is an increase of $325.20 for next year. So much for premiums going down thanks to ACA, another political ‘white lie’. At most I can be happy it wasn’t as much of an increase as I’ve seen the last two July’s (when my premium normally goes up.) Beginning the year after ACA passed there have been huge increases every summer for my premiums. This additional premium increase due to “new federal fees and taxes” feels a lot like being kicked after getting beat down to the ground.

I am not sure what direction I will take for my family’s health insurance needs. However I do know that thanks to ACA whatever path I take will be more costly and less customized to my needs that was previously available.

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