A TPM report has uncovered the extreme lengths to which some prominent insurance companies have gone to in order to keep existing customers on higher premiums despite the new regulations under the Affordable Care Act. These attempt have apparently been so egregious that it has come to the attention of state insurance regulators. The report states:
Across the country, insurance companies have sent misleading letters to consumers, trying to lock them into the companies’ own, sometimes more expensive health insurance plans rather than let them shop for insurance and tax credits on the Obamacare marketplaces — which could lead to people like Donna [the woman interviewed] spending thousands more for insurance than the law intended. In some cases, mentions of the marketplace in those letters are relegated to a mere footnote, which can be easily overlooked….
TPM has confirmed two specific examples where companies contacted their customers prior to the marketplace’s Oct. 1 opening and pushed them to renew their health coverage at a higher price than they would pay through the marketplace. State regulators identified the schemes, but they weren’t necessarily able to stop them.
The insurance companies, including Humana and LifeWise (a subsidiary of the state’s Blue Cross/Blue Shield) had been warning customers that their health insurance plans are due to be canceled because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and had urged them to enroll in new insurance plans before ACA launched on Oct. 1. As the report stated, “These insurers put their customers at risk of enrolling in plans that were not as good or as affordable as what they could buy on the marketplaces.”
Donna, the woman TPM spoke with, would have ended up paying $300 more under the new LifeWise plan she was urged to enroll in than she was paying for previously, and an extra $1000/month factoring in the tax credits she is entitled to under the ACA.
Go unregulated markets!
If there’s a better argument for Obamacare and the far more stringent insurance accountability that goes with it, we’re all ears.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.