It only hurts when I write the checks |

It only hurts when I write the checks

It feels like a prostate exam, though less comfortable. My health insurance has increased almost 75 percent during the three years since I’ve had the policy.

The latest addition was almost 30 percent and all the higher rates have come despite me never having filed a claim.

What follows are excerpts from an actual letter I received from Golden Rule Insurance Co. explaining the reasons behind the latest increase.

In quotation marks are the actual words used in their letter, in parentheses and boldface are the thoughts that were going through my mind when I read.

Dear Mr. Insured Guy,

“Improvements in the health care field have continued to advance in the past few years. Consumers are receiving higher-quality care than ever before.” (This is true, but to get an insurance company to approve that “high quality” care and cutting edge treatments such as chiropractic and acupuncture is as easy as locating biological weapons in Iraq.)

“We are always looking for and implementing changes to try to help keep these costs as low as possible.” (Like denying needed care.)

“However, our changes don’t make up for the total changes in costs.” (Well I guess your two choices would be to cut your operating expenses, or to up your rates.)

“For that reason, everyone who purchased the same plan you have is getting a rate increase.” (That’s comforting, I thought I was the only one getting hosed.)

“Insurance is designed to combine the premium payments of a group of individuals to pay the benefits of those insured under the plan. As a result, many of you are getting this increase, even if you have never filed a claim.” (This sentence could not be any more confusing even if I wrote it.)

“Individuals with large, unexpected claims may have received significant benefits.” (Name some.)

“Please note that while you may not have filed a claim with Golden Rule, you have had insurance coverage over this period.” (What a relief, I was afraid that check I sent every month was to pay-off that nifty drug-company calendar you sent me last January.)

“The increase is broken down as follows:

“Standard increases $58.27 per month.” (Shouldn’t you be charging me extra because I’m getting older?)

“Age increase $7.39 per month.” (That’s fair; seven bucks is a small price to pay for the pleasure of sore knees, stiff back and a migrating hairline. Those rate increases will stop when I’m dead -right?)

“Thank you for allowing us to provide for your insurance needs.” (No thank you. Could you check my prostate while you’re in there?)

I’ve heard health insurance described as a necessary evil. It’s something, although overpriced and underdelivered, an active person cannot live without.

One third of the American public cannot afford health insurance. The current state of the health care industry – insurance, drug companies and the astronomical costs – is one of the more ugly results of unregulated capitalism.

Although many, myself included, have countless complaints with few solutions, most agree there is a problem.

Personally, I’d like to see a national health care program in this country – one that promotes prevention as well as cures and provides basic care for all.

The argument is that with a socialized program, the quality of the care suffers. I can see where that might be the case – that is where inexpensive supplemental insurance would come into play.

For those of us who might opt for elective surgery to treat the maladies of an over-active lifestyle, we could make that choice. A socialized program would benefit most the very poor who often must now choose between food and medicine. Considering the cooking skills of my mate, this would be a difficult call.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of “Biff America” can be seen on RSN television, heard on KYSL radio, and read in several mountain publications. He lives in Breckenridge, he’s just not sure where, having gone couch-surfing, or something like that, while waiting for a new house to be built.

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