Bob Laszewski, Host of Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review

By Robert Laszewski

First Posted at Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review on 10/29/2013

Bob Laszewski, Host of Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review
Bob Laszewski, Host of Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review

How many times have I talked on this Blog about rate shock, the millions of people who would be getting cancellation letters from their current health plan, and the problem of people having to put up with more narrow networks?

And, how many times have those predictions been met by push back and spin: Today’s policies are just junk and people will be better off finding lower cost health insurance under Obamacare.

I have been in this business for 40 years. I know junk health insurance when I see it and I know “Cadillac” health insurance when I see it.

Right now I have “Cadillac” health insurance. I can access every provider in the national Blue Cross network––about every doc and hospital in America––without a referral and without higher deductibles and co-pays. I value that given my travels and my belief that who your provider is makes a big difference. Want to go to Mayo? No problem. Want to go to the Cleveland Clinic? No problem. Need to get to Queen’s in Honolulu? No problem.

So, I get this letter from my health plan. It says I can’t keep my current coverage because my plan isn’t good enough under Obamacare rules. It tells me to go to the exchange or their website and pick a new plan before January 1 or I will lose coverage.

First, the best I can get in a Blue Cross network plan are HMOs or HMO/Point-of-Service plans. In the core network those plans offer, I would have to go to fewer providers than I can go to now in the MD/DC/VA market. And, the core network has no providers beyond my area. I can go to the broader Blues network but only if I pay another big deductible for out-of-network coverage.

Now, my plan covers about everything. Never had a procedure for either my wife or myself  turned down. Wellness benefits are without a deductible. It covers mental health, drugs, maternity, anything I can think of.

The new plan would have a deductible $500 higher than the one I now have and a lot more if I go “out-of-network” inside the rest of the Blue Cross national network.

And, wait all you people telling me rate shock does not exist, the new far more restricted plan costs 66% more than our current monthly premium. Mr. Rate Shock got rate shocked––and benefit shocked to boot.

Now here’s the real corker; Maryland has been bragging they have the lowest premiums of all of the exchanges. More, I figured being an old fart the age rating rules, that force younger people to pay more so older people pay less, would help me. Didn’t work out.

There are other plans on the exchange (Maryland is one of the few that work) but every comparable plan had much higher premiums.

Thankfully, my Blue Cross plan is offering me an “early renewal” which means I can keep this plan I really like until December 2014––at which point my beloved health plan is toast. My health insurance company is doing everything they can––this is not their fault.

Mr. President: I really like my health plan and I would like to keep it. Can you help me out here?

Robert Laszewski
Robert Laszewski is president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, Inc. (HPSA), a policy and marketplace consulting firm specializing in assisting its clients through the significant health policy and market change afoot. Before forming HPSA in 1992, Mr. Laszewski was chief operating officer of a health and group benefits insurer. Mr. Laszewski also publishes Health Policy and Marketplace Review, a blog focused on health care policy and marketplace activities.


  1. I’m not an expert-just an old lady. The regional restrictions were put on military Tri-Care when it fist came out. Personnel had transfers from the West Coast to the East Coast, and they lost their medical coverage. This was for federal mandated revocations. To add insult to injury, you didn’t get a refund either, even though your whole family was without medical care until the next enrollment.
    What a minute-military personnel had powerful advocates that were stuck in the same situation. The Commanding officers, JAGs, Chaplains, military fraternal groups like the Fleet Reserve Association, VFW, American Legion, etc contacted DOD and Congresspeople.
    Who will advocate for a battered mother trying to escape an abusive stalker by moving from Iowa to Los Angeles? Who will advocate for a person moving from Illinois to New Mexico that is trying to start a career as a movie tech in a wide open western environment?

    My grandson is trying to work his way through college. He tried one of those colleges that you see on TV. His credit is ruined-he owes student loans that he can’t discharge. Guess who has been helping him with medical bills? Me. I can’t afford his premiums and the deductible. Before we paid when he was sick. Yes, he made some stupid decisions, but he’s not the only person to attend a rip-off school. The feds need to collect the school money, but why are the feds trying to ruin everybody’s life with this insurance plan.
    They got the same type of stupid people that designed Tri-Care to design this one-only there isn’t anybody to really advocate for the people. And the social engineering that’s in ACA is a deeper and wider problem than the Right realizes.


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