insurance

Reader tales of private health insurance

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Dear Bankrate,
I could be a prime example of the health insurance challenge in America. Could be, but I'm doing fine.

I work for a small firm but I cover my own health insurance. I'm a nine-year cancer survivor, so you might as well put "high risk" on my forehead. Having said that, I can take advantage of Minnesota State regulations that say everyone is entitled to coverage. So, after being turned down for coverage, I was able to turn to MCHA.

Background on MCHA: MCHA was established in 1976 by the Minnesota Legislature to offer policies of individual health insurance to Minnesota residents who have been turned down for health insurance by the private market, due to pre-existing health conditions. MCHA is sometimes referred to as Minnesota's "high risk pool" for health insurance or health insurance of last resort. Currently, about 30,000 Minnesota residents are insured by MCHA throughout the State of Minnesota.

Net, net? I pay about $409 per month with a $2,500 deductible (or maybe $3,000, I don't remember offhand). So, my health is good, I pay for my annual checkup in cash, and I have coverage for an emergency. Isn't that what insurance is supposed to be? Just for emergencies? For me, it's affordable and workable. Just one of many reasons why I like living in Minnesota.
-- Wynn

Dear Bankrate,
I want to retire at age 62 -- just a few short months from now, but lack of medical insurance will prevent that. The cost, even with high deductibles and a medical savings account, are prohibitive.
-- Kathy

Dear Bankrate,
I had good, guaranteed PPO coverage through an association, but then the association lost its ability to offer health insurance. That was a real blow.

Now I have an individual PPO plan. The premiums aren't bad (under $200 a month) but there's a super-high deductible ($5,000!) So it's basically just catastrophic coverage. As long as I stay healthy, it's fine, as the co-pay for doctor's visits is just $40 to$50, as long as I stay within the network.

I'm over 50, so I also joined AARP. For people in my age range, they offer a supplemental plan for $76/month. It pays a predefined amount for doctors' visits, hospital stays, and procedures. When combined with my insurance plan, it works out OK (as long as I don't get really sick or need hospital care.)
-- M

Dear Bankrate,
My husband and I are self-employed 52-year-olds. We live in Michigan and have Fake Insurance Co. We've had it for maybe eight years. When first enrolled, we were with a group plan and it became way too costly. We switched to an individual plan with the same insurance company a couple years ago.

Even with that plan we feel they are huge blood suckers. We couldn't find another company that would write a policy because I was on blood pressure (controlled) and cholesterol (controlled) medications.

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My husband has had zero medications, illnesses. In the over eight years we've carried the insurance, our minimum deductible has never been met. In 2006, I had a cataract surgery and I still paid over 30 percent of the bill.
-- Leslie

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