Health Insurance Premiums & The Economy

Four little words can mean so much. They can save a life. "No thanks, peanut allergy." They can make a life. "I love you too."

Or the four words of note that I read today in the December 2009 issue of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts newsletter, Direct to You. They can really hurt a life.

What are the four words? "Premium Delinquency Period Change." There are a few more words in that section of the newsletter.
Effective December 1, 2009, your direct-pay contract will terminate if you fail to pay your premium within 35 days after payment is due. If Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts does not receive the full premium on or before the due date, the plan will stop claims payments as of the last date through which the premium was paid. This is a change from current policy, which gives direct-pay subscribers 60 days to pay premiums before contracts terminate.

So in this economy, with so many people without jobs, we are now given even less time to pay our health insurance before they terminate the contract. Really nice.

And how many people will even read this newsletter that closely? If you're used to having 60 days to pay and suddenly that time shrinks to 35 days, there could be more than a few people who are shocked if their health insurance is suddenly and unexpectedly cancelled. The new rule went into effect on December 1st. I just received the newsletter today, January 5th.

I was debating whether or not to write this post, but once more, I could not stop myself from writing it. Especially after reading this article headline: Premiums are key issue for health care negotiators. The article states that helping Americans pay their health insurance premiums is on the top of the list for health care reform.

Well that help is badly needed. Especially when insurance companies are giving their customers even less time to pay it. I am so disgusted. How many people will fall through the cracks? And will they survive the fall?

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alessandra said…
In Italy we have free (more or less) health care, no insurance needed, I hope one day you'll have too.
dmarks said…
Your Blue Cross is probably a quasi-monopoly, protected by the state. It is that way in Michigan.

So much would be improved if the regulations and sweetheart deals (which prevent the 1,200 insurance companies from competing with each other) were abolished.

Going in the other direction (more concentration, centralization of power) would be a lot worse.
My hope is the same as Alessandra's. Thanks for posting and speaking out about this.

On another note: people should pay special attention to their credit card accounts...especially those who keep emergency cards. With the new credit card law changes, banks will start charging consumers inactivity fees. Check for more info on this.
Josephine said…
absolutely ridiculous! thanks for bringing this to light.
Mosilager said…
Something definitely needs to be done, it can't be that the richest country in the world doesn't have enough money to keep her citizens' healthy.
Lisa Johnson said…
alessandra - I wish we could have free health care here too. The way the debate is going at this point, things aren't looking so good. Thanks for stopping by!

dmarks - I'm not sure what the answer is, but it sure isn't working the way things are now.

style and inspiration - Thanks for the heads up about the new fees. The American consumer can't seem to catch a break!

josephine - I was shaking I was so angry when I read this. But I did feel better after writing about it. Thanks for the support!

mosilager - Hello friend and happy new year! I always feel like I struck the right chord when I see you piping in.

What's so shameful about the whole health care issue is that we have enough money. The problem is that a significant number of Americans don't think that everyone deserves health care. They feel that it's a privilege not a right. Un-freakin-believable.

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