Tere Rice – Temecula, CA

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I feel I am at the mercy of Anthem Blue Cross, which has raised my health insurance rate by almost 50% since 2006. Another $65 a month increase will kick in April 1, bringing the premium to $861 a month and more than $10,000 a year. The policy has a $1,500 deductible and 30% copays, with many kinds of treatment excluded from the deductible. The increase just since just 2010 has been 33%, while my income from real estate sales is stagnant at best in this market.

Almost every month I struggle to pay both my mortgage and health insurance premium. I know the month will come when I have to make that choice. You tell me—which should it be? Foreclosure or no health insurance?

I’m 55 and have rheumatoid arthritis, so no insurance company would sell me a policy today. If I lose my Blue Cross PPO, which I got as a conversion from a COBRA policy after I left a job, I’d soon be bankrupt from medical debt, especially my prescription drugs. Even so, there are days when I think I should just quit trying. If I lost my house but could get Medi-Cal, the health coverage would be better than what I have now. But it would leave my adult daughter, who I help support because she can’t find a full-time job, out in the cold.

The increases in my health insurance rate are completely out of line with inflation, even with medical inflation. No one I know is getting that kind of increase in income. The insurance company’s “reasons” for the increases—medical costs, regulation, even rising obesity in general, don’t add up.

I’ve followed attempts in the state Legislature to get health insurance rates regulated the same way that other states do—with the ability to reject or modify rates that are unjustified. But the bills always seem to vanish, leaving the insurance companies in charge and profiting mightily at our expense.

If our elected officials can’t stand up to the insurance and medical lobbyists, we voters will have to do it for ourselves. I’d rather have national health insurance that cuts out the insurance companies, but getting rates under control is at least a start.

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