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Blue Cross rate hikes

My family has a Blue Cross individual family PPO. This year the premium alone is $2222 a month—that’s $26,664 a year. The policy cost only $495 a month in 2002. As recently as 2009 the premium was just over $1500 a month. So in two years the annual cost is up $8400 a year and my deductible is up during the same period from $1500 to $1725. My copays are up as well, from 20% to 30%.

I can’t cancel the Blue Cross policy even if we have access to employer insurance because I’m a breast cancer survivor—12 years now, fortunately for me. I can’t risk ever losing coverage. I certainly can’t shop for a cheaper policy because no other health insurance company would sell me or my family as a whole a decent policy.

I feel like the huge premium increases of the last few years are aimed at getting rid of me, or at least people like me with older policies.

The yearly cost with deductibles and copays, even if only one person needs care, is about $29,000--far more than my son’s University of California tuition plus room and board and book expenses. The cost equals about a year’s pay for an elementary school teacher.

I drive 14- and 16- year old cars, thanks to Blue Cross . I haven’t had a vacation in seven years because the yearly increases eat up anything I can put away. I’m fortunate to be able to afford health insurance at all—at least for now.

It’s crazy that California regulates rates for auto and homeowner insurance but lets the health insurance industry gouge us year after year. We can go without a car before going without health care.

Insurance company customer service offices are filled with frustrating and unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. Doctors who I know tell me that their payments by insurers are flat or declining—their only increase comes from patients’ higher copays.  Doctors spend endless hours with red tape and appeals.

These health insurance companies are also sitting on billions of dollars in unnecessary surplus. They are making more profits than ever while insuring millions fewer people than before the recession.

I wonder how many people in my own policy group were forced to drop their insurance in the last few years, crushed by the premium increases.

I and my family, and millions of other Californians, suffer because Blue Cross and its brethren can charge us whatever they want and the state’s regulators have no power to stop them. We expect our legislators to do what we elected them to do, and protect us.