Having trouble getting health insurance? Maybe you can get on your pet’s insurance plan.
Probably not, but that didn’t stop Hal Ziegler from making the call anyway. The Orange County Register reported that the self-employed consultant did so after receiving the infamous rate increase letter from Anthem Blue Cross.
At first blush, it’s an amusing story… a guy trying to get pet insurance for himself… that is until you stop to consider the reality. The Register quotes Ziegler as saying, “They laughed. I knew what the answer would be but in reality I wasn’t joking.”
Both he and his wife carry individual policies, hers going up 28 percent last year and his rising 34 percent. A cheaper high-deductible plan was denied due to a recent ankle injury.
The individual insurance market is a cruel place, something many folks in group plans do not understand. Once you’ve landed in the individual market, many of the legal protections that come with group insurance no longer apply.
If you’ve got any type of pre-existing condition — it could be as simple as an ankle injury — you are without choices. In most states, insurers are free to deny coverage all together, and that includes other policies with the same insurer. There is no freedom of choice, no comparison shopping to be done. You already have the policy of last resort. Pay up or get out.
Terri Carlson finds herself in a similar situation. With no employer-based insurance and a COBRA benefits period about to end, she sought coverage in the individual market, but her pre-existing condition resulted in denials across the board.
Her attempt at a solution was to advertise for a husband with health insurance benefits. It’s a fairly drastic response, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
As for Anthem Blue Cross, according to The Washington Post, it’s defense for raising Californians’ premiums up to 39 percent, is “Costs have increased in the individual market because the recession has led many policyholders to drop their coverage, spreading expenses among a smaller pool of customers. Additionally, those remaining with the company tend to have, on average, greater health needs than those who have dropped coverage. We regret the impact this has had on our members.”
So as prices escalate, more policyholders are forced out, causing prices to increase further for those remaining. It is a system destined to fail, with a human toll.
When Ms. Carlson decided to advertise for a husband and when Mr. Ziegler inquired about pet insurance for himself, whether completely serious or not, they were successful in shining a light on the failings of a system of health care that leaves people out in the cold.
Pet insurance for people… marriage for health care… how far would you go to gain access to health care? The more important question being why should you be forced to make such a decision?
Related reading on Care2
- Size Does Matter
- Insurer Defends 39 Percent Increase
- After the Health Care Summit: The Shark in the Water