Late in the Fall each year, those who work at American colleges and universities are asked to sign up for healthcare benefits – health insurance, dental insurance, flexible spending accounts, and the like – for the following calendar year. At Hillsdale College, we are in the midst of sorting this out right now. The process is an interesting one – for in some particulars Obamacare is kicking in right now.
The response of our carrier – Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) – to the new mandates that will be operative next year was to raise our rates by 33%, which caused heartburn in the executive suites of the college.
For some time now, we have had high-deductible health insurance and health savings accounts. Through BCBS, we have been able to negotiate discounts on services. What we pay each month for insurance is modest, and for ordinary medical care we pay out of our own pockets with the money withdrawn from our paychecks and deposited in the health savings accounts. Overall, this reduces expenses. One is less apt to spend one’s own money than someone else’s money on office visits, procedures, and medicine for which one has no genuine need.
BCBS made money serving us last year, but they were initially adamant about the rate increase. So, with the help of a consultant, the college managed to find another provider – Priority Health – willing to provide us with insurance along the same lines at little more than what BCBS charged us last year. For now, we are doing all right.
The future is, however, uncertain. My sense is that Obamacare was designed to fail. It mandates an increase in benefits and calls for a decrease in costs. It does nothing to promote competition, and it leaves us with fifty discrete, segregated insurance markets operating under the jurisdiction of the states. Its aim, if I read the tea leaves correctly, is to create a crisis and open the way for a single-payer system on the British or Canadian model.
I am curious regarding its effects in different locales. How are the changes affecting you – so far?