I turned 65 a couple of years back, that single event that signals every insurance company to inundate us seniors with paper, e-mails, everything you should know about ‘choice.’ They want to know who’ll be your insurance provider? “Do you wish long-term care?” “Death benefits?” “Estate planning?”
Older Americans are suddenly awash in choices and we’ve got to make decisions.
So, I did.
A lovely woman came out representing Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Rhode Island, and she walked me through the different plans. After all that, I determined which plan probably suited me best. We crunched all the numbers…I was a totally-informed consumer, and I flattered myself that I’d ‘done it right.’ Or so I thought.
Well, that illusion lasted about a month.
The monthly fee that Blue Cross charged for my plan jumped in January (I joined in late Nov.) and I got a new bill—significantly higher. I called the company, asking how this could happen.
Well, apparently the company can modify the amount in the new year (it’s in the small print,) and since my membership came at the end of their year cycle, I would now be lumped in with others at the new rate. End of story… So, my loss.
They apologized and said my advisor (the one who came to my home) should have alerted me to this. If she did, I don’t recall, and I’m pretty thorough.
I was furious and called “Foul.” They told me I could protest the change, in writing; I did; and my plea was rejected. All my careful planning was for naught.
In the two years since, I get a notice each year, saying my rates are going up again. More infuriating, they act like I’m getting a bargain. Here’s the wording of the latest letter from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island: “Dear 65 Member…You have been eligible for the BC & BS Age in Credit Program, which provides you with a 30% discount on your Plan 65 rate for the first year, a 20% discount the second, and a 10% discount the third. …This letter is to advise you that we will be moving you from the 20% discount to the 10%….(sounds like they’re still giving me something here…doesn’t it?)
So, my discounts are going down… meaning my payments are going up??
Don’t you love this? It reminds me of when I go to Kohl’s and the clerk at check-out circles the part on my receipt that shows I’ve “just saved $140.00” (but I had to spend $380 to ‘save’ the $140.00.)
It’s all semantics, but when you sign on to BC and BS (or whatever insurer you choose,) do check to see what your ‘adjusted rate’ in the upcoming months as of the January timeframe.
Ask them to show you how the rates have changed over the last several years… sort of like how a bank must now show you its amortization schedule for your bank loan.
Then, factor in your so-called yearly ‘discounts.’
Because if you’re like me, you’ll find you’re paying more…every year.
No matter how these insurance companies slice it, it’s a win/win for them, and it’s a game of semantic mystery to the rest of us. Just think “Ever see what appears to be a ‘struggling insurance company’?” (their corporate offices all sit on beautiful grounds)
Speaking of ‘struggling,’ Blue Cross also just applied for this 2nd. bump-up in the rate, claiming too many subscribers sought costlier care.
Don’t be caught off-guard by the seeming ‘discounts’ you’re going to get….