Monday, June 24, 2019

Howdy Gramps, great to see ya!

We've written before about (so-called) Grandfathered Plans, most recently here:

"... as frustrating as it is, their current policy is the least bad alternative (at least until the next Open Enrollment period)."

A good blog-friend of mine recently wrote about her experience with her own grandfathered plan. She's a long-time MS patient, and had this to say:

"I finally received the hospital bill for my Feb 4th Rituxan infusion. That was my 36th infusion since Nov 2009. At first we tried stretching out the time between infusions, but I was still relapsing. After a relapse in Nov 2011, we went to the every-6-month schedule. I didn't relapse again until Feb 2016.

That's amazing!

So back to the bills. I'm a number cruncher and keep track of all sorts of things. For those 36 infusions, the hospitals have charged $539K in total. More than half a million dollars, folks! Insurance okayed charges of $458K of which $399K was for the Rituxan itself. Because of having a grandfathered individual insurance policy, my copay for infusions/drug has been limited to $22,857.24.

This is what I need to remember to appreciate my current monthly insurance premiums of $1028 (which will certainly go up again after my annual renewal in September). So from 2009-2019 (11 years), I will have paid at least $87,732 in insurance premiums, BUT my out-of-pocket maximum has been limited to $27,500, the most of which has been allotted to Rituxan infusions. (Vision, dental, and other prescriptions not included.)

So..... for $115,232, I have received half a million dollars worth of medical care for a single pharmaceutical treatment and have spent only about $5000 OOP for doctors, MRIs, or ER visits.


That's my gratitude thought of the day. The same day I worked outside in the yard for at least 4.5 hours this morning and experienced difficulty walking and gripping at times and really only want to sleep right now. Stable does not mean no symptoms or never any problems

Well first: Baruch HaShem that she's not getting worse (which is always a danger with MS).

It also puts into perspective something that doesn't always get much play regarding ACA plans: not only do they tend to have very narrow provider networks, they also typically include restrictive formulary benefits for meds. As we've long noted:

"The stated reason for this business model is that it helps carriers to rein in the cost of medications, which make up a disproportionate percentage of claims."

But it presents a major challenge to folks with, for example, MS (let alone cancer or diabetes).

My friend continues:

"I'm very fortunate that my current treatment is an infusion therapy, otherwise it would be a very different story.

It does support the extra cost of keeping that grandfathered PPO plan tight within my grasp for as long as possible. The $100 deductible, 10% co-insurance, and $2500/year OOP max (for med coverage) are priceless. Good thing I'm not taking any expensive oral or self-injectable drugs; $1500 max coverage for pharmacy drugs doesn't go very far. All generics for me

Bottom line: keep that legacy plan for as long as you can.
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