Deborah Randolph – Fountain Valley, CA (Orange County)

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My husband and I own a major-appliance repair business, and have been on an Anthem Blue Cross PPO policy since the early 80s. In the early years, the increases were reasonable and pretty predictable, so we could budget for them, but in the last several years it has been out of control.

Last May Anthem Blue Cross informed us that it was changing the plan that I have had all these years, from a 2,500 deductible per person to 2,950 per person. Copays are up as well, and my premiums went up nearly $200 a month, to $1012. How can they just unilaterally raise the deductible and copay when we have a contract? It’s outrageous.

Even worse, the increases came just as Wellpoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross, was reporting record profits.

I was delighted when I heard Blue Cross was not imposing the increases after a lot of public protest and an examination of the increase by the Insurance Commissioner. I even confirmed on the Insurance Department web site. But then Blue Cross charged us anyway, which was when I found out that our policy is regulated by the Department of Managed Health Care and the increase still applied to us. This is crazy, because insurers don’t even tell us which agency oversees our policies! In any case, it shouldn’t take people marching in the streets to get fairly priced insurance.

These increases are devastating to our family finances. You get an increase and try to budget it in, but then it just goes up again.

I have diabetes, so I can’t even think about dropping our insurance. We really need a new car, but had to drop that plan again last year because the increase was nearly as much as a car payment.

Still, I know we’re not the worst off. A lot of our customers are unemployed, and they’re trying to keep an old refrigerator or washing machine going because they can’t afford to replace it. My heart really goes out to them.

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