While almost everybody has heard health insurance horror stories from stories in the local paper, from somebody they know, or even somebody closer to home, it’s easy to think it won’t happen to us personally. In many cases we never even see the worst of insurance company abuses until we get sick ourselves. But the rash of “jaw-dropping” premium increases, as the President put it in his Weekly Address earlier today, has shown that nobody is immune to bad practices from insurance companies as long as health reform is not in place.
As a recent report out of HHS documented, outrageous premium requests have hit every region of the country recently – up to 39% from one insurance company in California, 56% from another in Michigan, 24% in Connecticut, and 23% in Maine to name a few examples.
Yesterday we learned that our seniors are vulnerable as well. Seniors who remained enrolled in their Medicare Advantage plans – which are tied to private insurance -- experienced rapidly increasing premiums, at 32 percent on average, between 2009 and 2010.
And today we learn that younger Americans can be just as vulnerable – indeed one California mother found that premiums for her kids were rising at a rate that makes even the other outrageous examples look modest. In what a MarketWatch headline calls a “health-care shocker”:
[Lori] Creasey, a Huntington Beach, Calif.-based attorney, said she received notices late last year for the two individual Anthem policies she bought for her college-age sons. For her 18-year-old son, Kyle, the monthly premium was climbing to $135 from $80, a 69% hike. Her 21-year-old, Walter, saw his premium jump to $139 from $84, a 65% increase.
"I was kind of shocked when I got [them]," Creasey said.
Lori and her sons aren't the only Americans who have been shocked by their premium increases. And if we do nothing theirstories will become more and more common.
That's why the President is committed to passing health reform and it's why he has invited leaders from both parties in Congress to discuss the issue on Thursday. You can watch the meeting live here on our website.
We're closer than ever to passing real health reform and stories like this show us how important it is to finish the job.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director