Insurance canceled: A message to President Obama
The numbers are staggering: In the first 24 hours of open enrollment in Obamacare on HealthCare.gov, just six enrollments managed to make it through the glitch-riddled system, according to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Jay Patel, an independent wealth advisor at Raymond James Financial Services in Wheaton, Illinois, is one of potentially millions who received a cancellation notice for his health insurance and tried to sign up in those first few days. Here is his first-person account of what happened.
Our president has said, "If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance." Well, I thought that was true until Oct. 1st, when Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois sent me a cancellation notice.
I am a small-business owner running a boutique financial-advising practice in suburban Chicago. Since I do not have a group plan, I buy insurance for my family of five from the insurance company. I am 36 years old, my wife is 30, and my kids are 6, 4 and 16 months old. Between random injuries of a young family, births, and immunizations, we usually fill up our deductible throughout the year. We do not have pre-existing conditions.
My current plan charges me $575 per month with a family deductible of $6,200, individual of $3,000. All in, the cost is about $13,000. Yes, it's expensive, but well worth it.
I was advised to shop for plans on the Healthcare.gov site. I tried every day for weeks. I got through entering all my information and just at the last step there was an error ... every time. I just stopped wasting my time on the site. I have yet to see where the government executes something better than for-profit businesses that cannot afford to make these mistakes.
Luckily, my current plan has offered me new rates and coverages for the same doctor coverage and co-insurance amount.
The new plan would be $759 a month with a family deducitble of $12,700 and an individual of $6,000. All in, the cost is $21,724. So YES, I can keep my insurance, but it will cost me $9000 more! I can get it down to about $18,500 by sacrificing the doctor network, but still $6,500 more than I pay now. In that case, it would be taking less quality insurance for 50 percent more.
So Mr. President, the line should have been, "If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance, you just have to pay a lot more for it."
Full disclosure, I have an income that is at a level that I will not get breaks on my premium, but that is still a lot of money for anyone. That is money that I would normally be giving away to charity, reinvesting in my business, or spending in the economy.
At this point, what can I do about it? I will find the funds to pay for it from our budgets or savings. My true hope is that this will help those it's meant to help — the underinsured. My biggest fear is that those people will opt-out of buying insurance and start paying the "tax," or penalty. Thus, continuing to drive health-care costs up and never solving the problem of getting the underinsured much-needed coverage.
— Jay Patel is an independent wealth advisor at Raymond James Financial Services in Wheaton, Illinois. He works primarily with high-net worth business owners and families. Follow him on twitter@wheatonwealth.