A few years ago, I reached the awkward age in life when the insurance companies no longer send you a happy birthday card, but instead send you a premium increase to start on or after your next birthday. Needless to say, I was not happy about my birthday present from the insurance company when it arrived in the form of a letter to increase my cost, but that was to be expected. This year, my birthday, most fortunate for me, once again rolled around and another letter came from my insurance company. Much like the letter from the previous year, this one again congratulated me on reaching my milestone in life with a slight premium adjustment. Naturally, that adjustment was in the upward, or insurance company’s favor.
I had just about accepted the change of status that my aging body, which somehow must be breaking my so-called “Non-Profit’s” bank accounts, when I received yet another letter- and yes, my insurance company has a non-profit status. The Arkansas Legislature, the insurance company blamed them, had given approval for a rate increase. This letter was dated eight days after my “Birthday Letter” and announced yet another insurance increase. This time I was mad.
I immediately did what any old man my age would do…. I took to social media. I blasted the insurance company the age increases over the last few years, and then for the update letter of new premiums. I told them this was ridicules and that my insurance for health had gone up over $100 dollars in just eight days! That was not to even mention the increase from the previous year. In our time of social media, the insurance company was quick to respond and offer me the opportunity to speak to a representative if they could call me back. I agreed to a Monday call.
Now, while I patiently waited out the weekend for my Monday call, I received another letter from my insurance company again reminding me that I’m old. Happy birthday, we’re raising your premiums! Fortunately, it was a duplicate copy, but I began to think about how much postage they were spending sending me multiple letters to remind me that I’m old and how much it would soon, apparently, cost my insurance company to keep me going.
Monday finally rolled around and the call came. I complained about the letters and the timing of the letters, and I complained about the two letters with the same information. My insurance company politely apologized, stated they would tell someone about the duplicate letters, and proceeded to tell me that if I raised my deductible by $5,000 I could save $30 a month on the current policy or I could go out to the government’s site and find an alternate plan. I was polite as I could be as I figured out that it did not really matter what I thought, the insurance company simply did not care. The phone call ended politely with me saying, “I’ll just have to look at my options.”
Well, a few days went by and today I received a supplemental update of several pages to my insurance policy. These updates deal with the required changes due to the Affordable Healthcare Act, the increase and certain other restrictions. The entire packet was several pages and came in a nice envelope showing they had spent about 45 cents to mail the packet. Well…. they spent 45 cents for each packet I should say. Once again, my insurance company apparently did not listen to my complaint. Whereas they had sent two notices of my age increase, they now sent three copies of the exact same forms to me regarding the changes. The forms and the stamps were even dated the same day! I guess they showed me…complain about two and they’ll send you three letters next time!
Now, it doesn’t take an extremely smart person to figure out that several pages of copies, an envelope and a 45-cent postal cost for two additional copies of the same document can add up. According to one report there is roughly around 160,000 people in Arkansas through this company, and I believe that to be a low estimate at best. If we assume that each packet, and we’ll be conservative, cost the insurance company $1.00 to mail total for paper, etc., then if they mailed two additional copies to each of the 160,000 people that would be $320,000 spent by this non-profit, insurance company just to mail the same notice two additional times. Yes, as a citizen of Arkansas I can see why these insurance companies went to the legislators and asked for an increase…. they needed it so they can mail out excessive copies of the same information to their customers.
In an age of uncertainty for health insurance coverage and premiums, it may be time that some of these insurance companies are held accountable to the states and citizens where they operate. Complaints, for example about the number of letters received, seem to do little other than prompt more letters next time. Perhaps it’s time that an insurance company operating as a non-profit has everything from their price increases, to the office spending, to their mailing spending reviewed prior to any rate increases. Somehow, I feel that at least part of the increase allowed by the state legislators is being wasted telling me two times I’m old and telling me at least two additional times how my plan is changing due to rate changes. So in the end, I guess this is the kind of birthday wishes I can expect from here on out from my insurance company.
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