Health insurance rates doubling for some Stanislaus County residents

11/12/2013 7:36 PM

11/12/2013 7:37 PM

From young families to retired couples, Stanislaus County residents are reporting some staggering increases in the cost of their health insurance policies.

“Ridiculous,” is how Brandon Graham describes the new premiums he’s being told he will have to start paying Jan. 1. The 29-year-old Modesto father said he has been paying $170 a month to cover his 2-year-old son and himself through HealthNet. The insurance company notified him a couple of weeks ago that his plan is ending Dec. 31.

The new plan Graham is being offered will cost $361 per month – that’s a 112 percent increase. And the new policy will require him to pay a significantly higher deductible, along with higher co-pays for medical services.

“I’ve called other insurance companies, but everywhere I go it’s the same,” Graham said. “This is not what we were told” would happen with the Affordable Care Act.

Graham is not looking forward to paying more for insurance that doesn’t cover as much.

“We’re just kind of middle-class people,” said Graham, but he fears the extra health care expense could “push us into the lower middle class.”

Dave and Patti Anderson of Hughson also are upset about how much so-called Obamacare will cost them. Dave Anderson, 56, retired from the Stockton police force after 28 years of service. Stockton was supposed to pay for his medical insurance after retirement, but the city filed for bankruptcy last year and he was forced to buy his own coverage.

The Andersons’ policy through Anthem Blue Cross costs $560 per month. Last week, he was told his premium will jump to $986 per month starting Jan. 1. That’s a 76 percent increase.

“What I’m being rolled over into is the Bronze plan,” Anderson said, referring to the metal coding system used to describe the plans being offered. He’s told his current insurance is more like what’s offered under the Silver plan, so the new coverage will be more expensive but not cover as much.

Anderson has called around trying to find a better deal, but hasn’t found one. He said insurance brokers are telling him, “You have no options.” Anderson doesn’t understand why there’s no competition among the insurers and why there are no better options for healthy people like him.

“I run 25 miles a week. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink, and I never have,” Anderson said. He will have to pay full price for his coverage because his retirement income is too high to qualify him for a government subsidy.

The Bee asked its Facebook readers to tell us how their insurance policies are changing.

Here’s a sampling of the comments they posted online:

Tara Crenshaw: “Our current plan is being discontinued. ... For our family of five (under the new plan), not only is the deductible outrageously high, our out-of-pocket maximum went from $8,000 per year to $13,000 per year. And instead of 100 percent coverage after the deductible is met, it’s now only 40 percent covered, which leaves us with more to pay. Robbery of the middle class.”

Nancy Norton: “I’m on Medicare and all the insurances offered for us went up on price and dropped some coverage. We can no longer afford the cost of chemotherapy or we will lose our house. But those on welfare get it free. So why work all your life!”

Matthew Bryant: “I was kicked off my current plan (that cost $180 a month), which I was perfectly happy with. I was able to call (Covered California) and get signed up for my new health plan for my family. (The new plan costs $485 per month, but with the government subsidy, the cost will be about the same as I currently pay.) My fear now that I have my Bronze-level setup is the high deductible. It’s great that low-income people can get health insurance, but how are they gonna pay the $5,000 deductible that must be met first? I have a good-paying job, and that’s still high for me.”

David Hiriscau: “We had our awesome health care plan taken away from us at work because of the ‘Cadillac tax.’ (The government) is taxing corporations millions of dollars to keep a legit plan. Now we all have to enroll in this dumb high-deductible plan.”

Carl Skaggs: “I looked myself up, and at my income level, it’s going to cost me under $100 a month for a Gold-level policy from Anthem. I’ll be very happy to have insurance again.”

Salvador Puga: “I only pay $35 a month for my family of five. (My employer) covers 80 percent and Obamacare can’t touch it. I work for WinCo Foods Distribution Center, backed by Teamsters Local 386.”

Kellie Floyd-Tubbs: “I will be paying $782 for coverage for my family through my employer’s plan. I have not looked into the Covered California options yet.”

Toui Ecv Sengchanh: “Yay!! $64 a week to $112 a week for (coverage) I don’t need $75 for generic prescription drugs instead of $15. Thanks, Mr. Obama!”

Seth Murray: “Our yearly deductible and co-insurance percentage has doubled while our rates increased 55 percent and 65 percent for my wife and I. We basically have half the plan at double the cost. Thanks, Obama!”

Tracy Cramer: “I need to do something before January, as my current plan goes up $300!”

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