Screwing the Self-Employed

shrinkmanIt's summer, officially the time for health insurance companies to jack up individual health insurance premiums by double digits. Such is the case of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, about to increase their never ending shrinking health care coverage by 22.1% on average:

Concerns about surging health care costs drove more than 150 people Thursday to hear Oregon's largest health insurer defend its request to raise premiums an average 22 percent.

In the Oregon Insurance Division's first public hearing for a rate request in more than 20 years, administrator Teresa Miller grilled the president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon.

Then Laura Etherton, a health policy advocate for the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, urged the division to reject the request.

"It is not justified, and it will only make matters worse," she said.

BlueCross sticks it to the self-employed or any other small business buying individual policies every year, with a never ending shrinking pool of customers, now down to 59,447. They used to cover over 100,000 in Oregon but clearly people are dropping out because they cannot afford the premiums. Even with health insurance, these individual policies do not provide enough coverage.

Healthcare Reform - Abandoning the Self Employed

Michael Collins

The most creative sector of the business community has a dagger at its heart in the form of the relentless, unyielding, and over burdening cost of health insurance. The self-employed and very small businesses have seen their insurance premiums climb 20% to 75% since 2009. To purchase an adequate family plan, a self-employed person will pays an amount 50% to 70% of the nation's median personal income, $32,000 a year, for family health plan. This includes premiums, deductibles, and out of pocket expenses. That is twice the cost for relatively generous plans at medium to large size companies. Very small businesses, two to twenty employees, pay about the same (Image: Paul Henman)

Wasn't health reform supposed to take care of just this sort of inequity? Didn't the title of the bill say it all? The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act There is no protection for the self-employed when they have these stark choices facing them due to unaffordable insurance rates. They can give up working for themselves; buy adequate insurance and take a huge hit to income; buy a substandard plan and hope that whatever comes up is covered; or, abandon insurance at real risk to their health and, in some cases, their lives.