Insurers nationwide are are scrambling to retain customers and they're using dirty tricks to do it.
These are customers who might ditch their insurer for a better plan through the ObamaCare marketplace.
Here's the deal: If you like you're plan, yes, you actually can still keep it --for one more year. Step one for insurers is to notify you that your cheapie plan is being dropped, and in that letter, they'll recommend an Obamacare plan that's, say, $200 more a month than your cheapo one.
Then the insurer plays hero. They'll "allow" customers out of their existing policies and offer them new ones at a higher rate but at rates cheaper than the Obamacare plan they've "recommended." By signing up before year's end, the federal law allows for that policy to remain in effect through 2014, meaning the insurer makes more while you think you've made out because you don't have to enroll in the more expensive Obamacare plan, which, by the way, would offer far better coverage than either your plan or the new one the insurer sells you.
As one analyst I spoke with put it, "It's that last bite of the apple," at the expense of uninformed people who quite likely might think they're getting a deal by ducking the mandates of Obamacare for a year.
The twist: If they sign onto that scam, they're not eligible for any subsidies. You can only get those through the exchange.
You wonder if they'll ever learn they were getting ripped off.
Insurers are offering these higher cost policies as an alternative so they don't have to compete with Obamacare for another year --in other words, they're delaying implementation that Republicans called for by way of their own business instruments.
In a way, the law comes with a loophole that allows companies to delay implementation of Obamacare for another year, a delay the Republicans demanded during the shutdown, apparently unaware that it was already built into the law.
There are probably countless instances of this practice though they're only now beginning to come to light. take Los Angeles-area realtor Deborah Cavallaro, 60, who repeatedly told news outlets her insurer recommended a policy nearly $200 more than her current $293-a-month premium. Yet, when Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik tracked her down, she hadn't even checked the smoothly-running Covered California website. Together, Hiltzik found her far better coverage for $100 less than she's now paying.
In one case, a woman in Seattle received a letter saying the insurer had found a new plan for her, and if it didn't hear from her, she would be rolled over to this new policy. "If you're happy with this plan, do nothing," LifeWise of Washington wrote.
What LifeWise didn't mention was that the new policy would cost her $300 more a month --or that she had much better options available to her on the insurance exchange. When she visited the marketplace, she found a cheaper plan and a number of new tax credits for which her family was eligible, none of which her insurer told her about.
In all, she saved $1,000 a month compared with the new plan LifeWise had tried to enroll her in.
Insurers say it's just business, but regulators are not impressed. Last month, Humana was fined $65,000 for sending similar letters in Kentucky, and also got a slap on the wrist in Colorado. "The letter appeared threatening," says a spokesman for Colorado's insurance division. "You've got to let people know their options. You can't make it seem like they have to stick with your company."
Could this money grab by insurers be one reason why so many people think Obamacare is to blame for losing policies and rising costs? Insurers more interested in profits than serving customers? Nah, never happen!