This month, my employer hosted the annual benefits fair and open enrollment for our new benefits year that begins April 1st. Well – call me an April fool, because I have been working for the same company for 3 years, and each year I have had to pay more for the same or worse coverage.
The insurance my job has contracted for is a PPO system. When I started, we could choose between 90/10, 80/20, or 70/30 coverage. My employer ‘contributes’ a certain amount to the coverage, and then we pay the difference – if there is one. I chose the 80/20 plan my first year, mostly because that was the one that ‘broke even’ – I didn’t have to pay any extra for coverage.
The next year, they had gotten rid of the 90/10 coverage, and added one below 70/30 called Risk/Reward. Instead of 80/20 being the plan that ‘broke even’, now it was 70/30. Besides the cheaper premiums, one of the other differences with a Risk/Reward system is that instead of paying a co-pay at doctor’s appointments, you would pay a percentage of the bill. Great if you never go to the doctor, but I have seen my Explanation of Benefits (example of an EOB) for some of my appointments, and that would get expensive very quickly. However, the difference that makes this choice impossible to me is the difference in the deductible. The deductible for the Risk/Reward option is three times as much as the 70/30 plan.
Last year, the only people who could choose the 80/20 option were the ones already enrolled in that plan. And they added a plan below Risk/Reward, with its clearest difference being its smaller provider network (‘marketed’ to us as a ‘more exclusive network’). Thankfully, the 70/30 plan was still the ‘break even’ plan so I stuck with it.
Can you guess where this story is going?
This year, they have decided that the employer contribution will be equal to the Risk/Reward plan. This means that my contribution to my health insurance will increase $123 per month. I don’t need to tell you that that is a lot of money. I haven’t completely finished running the numbers but I think it is still cheaper than paying 20% of the costs of my appointments and having a much higher deductible.
I’m a little frightened about what they are going to do to our benefits next year.