Deborah Starrett – Los Angeles, CA

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My husband and I own a small business and we’ve had individual Anthem Blue Cross policies for nearly 30 years now. In that whole time we’ve met the deductible only one or two years. Almost all of our medical care costs have come out of our own pockets. Yet in the space of 8 months last year, Blue Cross increased our premiums 40%. We have to take money out of our retirement IRA just to keep our insurance. We’re afraid that otherwise we would lose our house if one of us fell seriously ill.

Our combined premiums are now $1,025 a month, and the deductible increased, too. Our former $3,500 annual deductible went up to $4,100 for each of us. It really hurts our family budget. In truth, we try to shrug off illnesses or symptoms for which we should probably see a doctor because that, too, would come out of our savings.

In any given year, if even one of us got seriously ill, we’d pay more than $16,000 in premiums and deductible before the insurance company had to spend anything on us.

We’re in our late 50s now. I know several people my age who’ve had to drop their insurance altogether because of the rate increases, and just cross their fingers that they can make it until they get Medicare.

These costs are outrageous, yet even the state has no power to modify rates or refuse an increase. As individuals, we don’t have anyone protecting us or even bargaining on our behalf.

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