So am I supposed to be thanking my health insurance company?

March 13, 2011

The things that get me going….

Every year, without fail, my “health insurance” (shouldn’t we call it “catastrophe insurance”?) rates increase. Without fail. Every year. So in order to keep my premiums down, I have to reduce my coverage one way or another, and for the last couple of years that meant increasing my deductible (maxed out there), and lastly, increasing my deductible on my pharmacy “benefits”. The only “benefit” I see is that they have the pleasure of telling me how much I could be saving if only my Dr would change my prescription to something else. At this point, I don’t buy enough prescriptions to meet the deductible during the year, so my out-of-pocket is about $104.00/month for what I’m taking. Should my Dr change it to something else?

I’ve been with my Dr over 15 years. He’s been with me every step of the way through different things in my life, both good and bad. He’s a trusted professional friend. He no longer is part of the insurance company “network”, so first, I should go to one of the doctors they recommend that are in their network, because they don’t cover his fees. Then, he’s telling me to use the wrong prescription, because “certainly, I should be able to use one of these other, cheaper, medications for my condition”. He and I discussed that. He asked me to stay on what he had me on, as he felt it was the best choice for me.

I’m expecting another premium increase in May. It has nothing to do with the lifestyle changes I’ve made in the last couple of years, the 60 lbs lost, the removal of the need to take high blood pressure meds, or any of the other things I’ve done to put myself in a position of seeing the doctor on a preventative basis rather than because I developed some other condition. No, I’m told it has to do with the “group” I’m in.

I don’t think I’m naive. I know that the cost of healthcare is extremely high. But what about finding ways to offer incentives for my rates to go down rather than up? Is that such a revolutionary thought? I guess I’ll find out when I get my policy renewal next month. I don’t have high expectations that the letter will start off with “Congratulations! You’ve been doing so well that we’re reducing your premium WITHOUT reducing your benefits! Happy day! We’re all so pleased with your progress here”.

No, I don’t think so. I mean, even Mr Potato Head has slimmed down (see my previous post “Enough Already”), and they’re not going to be raising HIS price! You go Mr Potato Head.

Anyway, much of this nonsense contributed to my decision to change to a vegetarian diet. Money motivated me, or rather, spending less of it. Getting my health where it should be, gets me off my need for my prescriptions, and I have my cholesterol meds in my sights now. Animal protein is one of the biggest (if not biggest) introduction of cholesterol into our blood. If I can get my cholesterol where it should be through lifestyle changes, then I can stop spending all this money on my meds. I guess if my insurance company hadn’t kept raising my rates, I’d still be eating and drinking as I had been for all these years (ah, youth!). So, am I supposed to thank them?

I will thank Pfizer. Through a program they have, I now have a card (that I used for the first time today) that knocks off $50.00/month from my prescription of Lipitor. I can use it through the end of 2012! What they’ve done is helped make it easier for me to follow my doctors wishes, giving me time (in some very tough times) to help me get off the medication. I’m sure that wasn’t their intent, but I thank them. 

Thank you Pfizer, I’ll probably need that savings to put towards my insurance increase. Rest assured, everyone I know will hear of this, and if they’re taking Lipitor, I’m sure you’ll be hearing from them.

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