Real Lives Pt. 8


A very interesting letter from TPM Reader JS on a little discussed part of the ‘cancellation’ and rollover story, namely that a lot of insurers, far from ‘dropping’ or ‘canceling’ coverage are working hard to keep their existing coverage holders from going to the exchanges to see the better deals they can get …

I am not terribly different than some other writers who have been in the individual market. We have BCBS covering a family of four with a variety of pre-existing (but not life threatening) conditions. Like others, BCBS of Illinois informed us that our policy would no longer be valid after January 1, 2014. They also informed us that they would role us automatically into a slightly more expensive (and largely comparable) plan if we did nothing.

Here is where it gets a bit more interesting. The “cancellation letter” directed us to the BCBS website, where we could shop through various other options. There are a large number of options (e.g., network breadth, deductibles, co-pays, etc.), many of which are also comparable to what we have at lower rates. Relatively minor tweaks to our deductible will save us hundreds per month – more than offsetting the deductibles. And, since getting the letter, we have gotten follow-up emails and telephone calls from BCBS encouraging us to compare our options at the BCBS website.

It has become quite clear over the past couple of weeks that BCBS does not want us shopping on the Illinois Exchange. Of course I will ultimately do that, if nothing else to check out competitive options. BCBS has huge market share here and they have the best, most comprehensive network – I won’t be a bit surprised if we stay with them. That said, we have suddenly become much more attractive and important to BCBS than we were. Getting through underwriting a few years ago was ridiculously difficult, now we are being marketed heavily and encouraged essentially to skip the exchange all together and shop exclusively at BCBS.

Count me among those who think the ACA will ultimately work to the net benefit of the vast majority of people in the individual market – myself included.


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of