by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Once was a shock. Twice was an outrage. Thrice is a nightmare that won’t end.
Over the past three years, my family’s private, individual health-insurance plan — a high-deductible Preferred Provider Organization — has been canceled three times. Our first death notice, from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, arrived in the fall of 2013. Our second, from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, came last August. Three weeks ago, we received another ominous “notice of plan discontinuation” from Anthem informing us that the insurer “will no longer offer your current health plan in the State of Colorado.”
Every time we receive a cancellation letter, I recall President Obama’s big lie: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”
Then I imagine Vincent Price’s evil “Thriller” laugh reverberating at the end of that cruel punchline: Mwahahahahahaha! …
… Like an estimated 22 million other Americans, I am a self-employed small-business owner who buys health insurance for her family directly on the individual market (as opposed to group insurance through a company or third party). Our most recent plan features a $6,000 deductible with a $1,000 monthly premium. It’s nosebleed expensive, but it provides us access to specialists not curtailed by bureaucratic gatekeepers. This has been important for us, because several members of my family have required specialized care for chronic illnesses.
Once again, however, I’ll soon be talking about our plan in the past tense. Choices for families like mine have evaporated in the era of Obamacare. In Colorado, UnitedHealthCare and Humana will cease selling individual plans next year. Rocky Mountain Health Plans is pulling out of the individual market in all but one county. Nearly 100,000 of my fellow Coloradans will be forced to find new insurance alternatives as open enrollment approaches on November 1, according to the Denver Business Journal. As Anthem abandons PPOs, the cost of remaining individual-market plans will soar an average of 20 percent.
It’s a nationwide implosion.