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“We frantically thought through all of our options… this kind of rate increase would send us over the edge.”

I’m an independent contractor, and one of the things I love about what I do is my autonomy and independence. My experience with Anthem Blue Cross jeopardized everything that I had built. 

At the beginning of this year I was paying $407 per month on my health insurance with Anthem Blue Cross. During open enrollment I stayed with my current plan out of convenience, and because the plan wasn’t too expensive. 

Imagine my surprise when four days after the end of open enrollment, Anthem Blue Cross sent me a letter stating that my new rate would be $738 per month! I felt sick to my stomach. My husband and I had a long talk about making serious life changes in order to find the money somewhere. We even considered having me leave my career to get a job that had insurance coverage. We frantically thought through all of our options, such as ending the investment in my career (I am responsible for my own marketing costs), liquidating retirement funds, stopping taking maintenance drugs, moving to a new area, or worst of all having to give up our pets. We aren’t in debt, but this kind of rate increase would send us over the edge.

Because of a problem with open enrollment, Blue Shield was allowed to extend their open enrollment for two extra weeks. Because of this I ended up finding a plan for $478 per month. But while I am paying a similar amount, I am getting much worse coverage. My deductible is now $5,000, compared to my prior plan’s $2,500 deductible. My copays are now $65, up from $40. I even pay 50% for out of network doctors, instead of the prior 30% I used to pay. I only see a few doctors and I’m very lucky that they are both on this new plan.

It’s unbelievable to me that insurance companies are allowed to raise people’s rates without prior approval. Consumers are under the thumb of the insurance companies that control whether they have access to care, and can bankrupt us at any moment by simply deciding they want more profit.