What a crazy and frustrating transition it has been to leave our health insurance providers against our will and to assimilate ourselves into Obamacare. But health insurance is not our god: God is our God, and Jesus Christ is still our Lord. But I do want to share with you what we learned along the way and encourage your heart and mind for next year on a few subjects with the next several posts, beginning with one of the most concerned issues in our country at this time: health insurance.
First, our experience.
Cheryl and I have had separate polices. Being self-employed as a pastor means I shop for a policy on my own with no benefit of a group policy. Cheryl has been on Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan (ICHIP) with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois because she is uninsurable due to multiple pre-existing conditions that will never go away. ICHIP has served us well. I have been with several providers over the years as my Insurance Broker shifts me around every-so-often to get a better rate. But, with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, ICHIP’s premium’s are being doubled and then scheduled to terminate in 2014. And because I have no group policy from which to share the load, my premiums are going to double as well, to pay for things that I don’t need, things that are morally objectionable, and to help pay for others to have insurance that are not on my policy. So we have no better option than to make the move.
What we learned:
1. You need to get a Licensed Health Insurance Broker in your state. Their knowledge is very critical to a successful transition. I’m thankful that I have had an exceptional broker for many years now.
2. Your Insurance Broker has a National Producer Number (NPN), a number by which the “MarketPlace” will respond to much quicker than if you simply walk up to the MarketPlace door, and knock on it on your own.
3. Do not use the website. It’s junk. You must get a pillow, a pot of coffee, a good book, and sit on the phone with a rep from the MarketPlace. Be prepared for multiple, “I’m sorry . . . my computer just crashed. It will take about 10 minutes or so to reboot and then we can resume your application . . . again, we’re sorry for the delay.” This can take up to 3 hours, depending on what time of the day you call. For me, their computer crashed 6 times in just over two hours. This is why their website is a nightmare; not even their own reps can avoid the freeze-ups.
4. Do not hang up and come back later to finish. If you do, they will most likely lose your application even if they give you an ID#. Persevere until you have a finished application and they have registered it with your Insurance Broker’s NPN. I sat on the phone for over two hours and was almost finished but needed to leave and come back. My Insurance Broker told me to get ready to hear, “We’re sorry Mr. Truman, but there is no application in our system. We’re sorry, but we will have to start from the beginning.” He was right. They lost my two and half-hour application. In the state of Illinois, according to my insurance broker, the MarketPlace, so far, has lost over 11,000 applications that were actually completed.
5. You will be eligible for a discount if your annual taxable income is below $62,400, and pro-rated for more discount the less income level you go.
6. Obamacare is NOT an Insurance Company/Provider. The government does not have an insurance policy! Think of it this way: Obamacare sticks it’s hand up the back of every Insurance Provider and make them provide to whomever, for whatever, at wherever facility, at whatever rates – deductibles – annual out-of-pocket limits, ect., or else be fined. If you like your present Insurance Provider or doctor, you may not be able to keep it, him or her. That’s the truth and it always was the truth.
7. Get LifeLock Identity Theft Protection. My insurance broker told me that the MarketPlace is a hacker’s paradise because it has almost no security fire-walls built into the system. Your SS# and auto-debit routing and account numbers to pay your premiums are exposed. It is a must that you get the minimum LifeLock protection. If you pay an annual premium at once, you can get it for $99, or even less with New Year’s offer promo code.
8. We successfully made the transition to Blue Cross Blue Shield/Obamacare. For us, the premium is lower than our previously combined premiums, but our annual out-of-pocket will be more. This is because Obamacare now sets the standard on what these Private Insurance Companies can charge and what they can’t. In all seriousness, no Private Insurance Company would take Cheryl on for such a low premium – she’s serious high risk. Here’s the point: no company can survive by taking on too many high-risk, high liability clients without raising the premium, or by not paying the doctor or hospital, or by discontinuing certain expensive procedures. So we’ll see what happens as next year rolls on. For now, it seems that Cheryl can continue to see her specialists at Loyola Research Hospital in Chicago for her kidney disease and autoimmune disorder. We thank the Lord for this.
That’s some of our experience. But thankfully, it is not our foundation for hope. Christ alone will continue to be our refuge.
All of this made me think of Ecclesiastes again, the portion of God’s Word that forces me to look above the sun and put my hope in the one who reigns over all the mess. There is a built-in meaningless and vanity to life because of our sin, which drives us to seek the only true meaning in God. I dare not stake my joy and security in any Health Insurance provider, because,
“What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? . . . In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man may not find out anything that will be after him” (Ecc. 2:22, 7:14).
In other words, work hard, be wise, but do not deceive yourself into believing that if you do all the right things, and if you can get everyone around you to do all the right things, that you can keep hard times away from your doorstep. It’s foolish to think that you can out-manage people and problems. Your only hope is in Him who sent his Son Jesus, to do what no Health Insurance Provider can do: conquer death.