Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Aetna Health Insurance Changes You May Not Have Hoped For

[Welcome Kaiser Health News readers!]

If you have a Georgia health insurance policy from Aetna, there are changes in the wind that you may not like. As a result of the Patient Protection and Unaffordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), the change you hoped for may not be the change you get.

The ink is hardly dry on the law and already Washington is trying to figure out what the law means, and how it will impact health insurance policyholders. In fact, they are making up rules as they go along.

Since Washington has no clue, neither do the health insurance companies. Most of the carriers are taking a wait and see approach before making drastic changes but some have decided to completely abandon the individual major medical market.

So far, Aetna isn't one of them but they are introducing some surprises that will make life difficult.

If you have an Aetna health insurance policy in Georgia, you have have already received a letter telling you of changes that will come about in July. Since Aetna did not bother to tell their agents about the letter, or the changes, we are finding out after the fact.

Here is what you can expect.

If your health insurance policy is more than 12 months old you will be getting a rate increase in July. Even if you just had a policy anniversary or age change increase you are getting another increase in July.

If your policy is less than 12 months old there will not be any changes until the 1st policy anniversary.

If you have an Aetna health insurance policy with doctor and Rx copays, your plan of benefits will change in July as will your rates. In most cases you will be looking at lesser benefits and possibly higher rates.

If you have a high deductible HSA plan there are no changes in benefits but rates may change in July.

The biggest changes will occur for those who have a Value plan or the $0 deductible plan.

We encourage anyone who currently has an Aetna plan to contact a knowledgeable agent that is familiar with plans from Aetna as well as other health insurance companies. In most cases, you will not need to change carriers or plans, but some will benefit from moving to a different plan with a different health insurance company.

Changing to a richer benefit plan within Aetna will require going through the underwriting process once more. Changing to a new health insurance company will require you to submit your medical information to a new carrier for review.

Frankly, some people who bought a plan they liked with Aetna will be stuck and will not have any options. If you chose a Value plan before you may be trapped in a new plan that has a higher deductible than before, fewer allowed doctor visits and no brand name prescription drug coverage.

And you may pay a higher premium as well.

You have every right to blame Aetna but you must also recognize the rules governing health insurance plans have been changed and not for the good. The folks in Washington who make the rules have no idea what they have done to have a negative impact on policyholders. Over the next few months as the new law phases in you can expect even more surprises.

Most will still be able to find affordable health insurance in Georgia, but they may have to look a little harder. That's where we come in. We represent all major health insurance companies in Georgia, California and Ohio and know how to find the best value.

If you have questions about health insurance, hopefully we have answers. If we don't have an immediate answer we know where to go to get a response.
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