Barbara Lipscomb – Santa Monica, CA

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I’ve been without health insurance for two months now. I’m just crossing my fingers and trying to stay optimistic. The last straw was when Blue Shield raised my PPO this spring from $732 a month to $931, beyond what I can afford.

No other insurance company will sell me a policy because of pre-existing conditions. I’m qualified for a state/federal plan called the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, with better coverage for $450 a month and a $1500 deductible. But I can’t get it until I’ve been without insurance for six months. Until then I’m on a tightrope.

I’m 55, but at this point I almost wish I was 65 just to get Medicare.

Why don’t California’s insurance regulators have some control over health insurance rates?  These increases have no connection to reality or the economy or what ordinary people can afford. It’s something that government ought to be doing—saying no to such unreasonable increases in a time like this.

I worked in local public schools for years with disabled and special ed students. I quit in 2007 to work for myself, coaching people with ADD and ADHD and directing a nonprofit program that helps underserved kids succeed academically. I love my work and would have made the change earlier, but felt stuck because of the health insurance.

I got Blue Shield COBRA coverage after leaving my job, and with an extension I kept it for three years. It was expensive but still affordable, at $450 to about $550 a month with good benefits.  When I had to get my own policy last year, my HMO would have been $1100 a month because it had good coverage and a low deductible. I had to switch to a PPO with a $4,000 deductible for $732 a month, which was a tough squeeze on my budget. Then this year I got notice of the nearly $200 a month increase and gave up.

At first I was in a panic, flying without a net. My holistic doctor, who I pay for myself and who helps keep me off medications, encouraged me and reminded me that I was quite healthy. But he suggested I up the medical part of my car insurance, so I got $100,000 worth of that for $56 for the whole six months. That gives me at least a little peace of mind.

Now, though, I’m fearing what could happen if the Supreme Court overturns the federal health reform law. Would the PCIP plan still exist in California? What options would we all have? We’d have to take to the streets.

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