Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Real Life ObamaCare©: A Tale of Two Clients

This past week, we've been looking at the macro; that is, some of the changes about to be wrought by ObamaCare© from a "big picture" perspective. As we head into the mini-Armegeddon that is 9/23/10, it may be instructive to now consider the micro:

Yesterday, I fielded a call from a long-time client who had some tough questions about grandfathering. He had just received a letter from his insurer offering him the one-time opportunity to re-grandfather his plan.

[ed: under ObamaCare© rules, any changes that were made between March 23rd and June 1st that "un-grandfathered" a plan could be reversed - once! - to reestablish grandfathered status]

My client asked me to explain to him why he received the letter, what it meant, and what he should do. That's one of my roles, by the way: any monkey can sell a policy, professionals understand that it's a much deeper relationship, and part of that means some hand-holding. His plan had become un-grandfathered because he changed his deductible to lower the premium after receiving his renewal in April. At the time, no one knew about this whole "grandfathering" business (hey, we had to "pass it to learn what was in it," and at 2000+ pages, it takes a while for things to become crystallized). That simple change was enough to render his plan un-grandfathered. Who knew?

I explained to him that he had two choices, neither of which was particularly attractive: he could "repair the damage," but then have to cough up the additional premium he would have paid for the intervening 6 or so months. The benefit would be that, theoretically, he would be spared some of the major rate hikes that are about to hit new ObamaCare©-compliant plans. Or he could stick with the plan as is, to which will now be added additional "benefits" he may not want or need, and the next renewal will reflect that reality.

I also spoke with a nice young single mother, whose group plan will be changing significantly on October 1 [ed: one wonders if her employer understands all the ramifications of the changes he's okayed, but he's not my client]. This young lady was underwhelmed by the new plan and its premiums, and wanted to avoid it by purchasing her own plan on the individual market. It was quite disheartening to have to tell her that she was out of luck: there are no carriers currently writing new business for families such as hers (that is, in Ohio and Georgia; YMMV). So much for "more choices and lower rates," not to mention that old saw about keeping the plan you already have.

Hope and Change, Washington style.
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