On Saturday night I was tidying the kitchen and happened to open a non-urgent looking letter from my insurance company, Aetna, that had been lying on my island table for a couple of weeks. The letter contained a notice of termination of the small business insurance health plan that my family has through the company I help my husband to run, Global Bridge LLC. Our coverage ends on March 1st. Aetna expressed their regret and blamed the Affordable Care Act for forcing their hand. While there is some truth in this, it is equally obvious that Aetna really doesn’t care about the people who buy its health insurance. Here’s why:
1. They Could Have Told Us Sooner
The letter was dated December 11th, so that’s when the decision was made. However, the envelope was postmarked January 2nd. By law, insurance companies are supposed to give 60 days notice of termination. We could quibble, and say that even if I had opened the letter when I got it, on say January 4th, that’s only 57 days. Be that as it may, why wouldn’t they tell us as soon as they knew? In order to defer postage costs until 2015, because they don’t care.
2. They Could Have Made It Clearer What They Were Telling Us
The letter came in an envelope marked “Important Renewal Documents Enclosed.” I know the renewal is March 1st, which is why I didn’t open it on receipt. If the letter had come in an envelope marked “Notice of Termination,” do you think I would have opened it sooner? You bet! Why wouldn’t they print up such envelopes for this important bulk mailing? Because it costs money, and they don’t care.
3. They Could Have Explained Why In More Detail
The letter says “because you are a sole proprietor husband and wife group and do not meet the federal definition of a group.” Say what? It was left to me to do the research: small businesses run by husband and wife teams no longer qualify for business group rate insurance plans under the ACA. (This is the part that is Obama’s fault. Husband & wife run businesses are not part of the 1%, but ordinary people trying to make a go of something in a difficult economy. The ACA makes health insurance less affordable for people like us.) Why wouldn’t Aetna explain this more fully? Because it would make the letter longer, and they don’t care.
4. They Could Have Given Us Options in the Letter
The letter says “we welcome you to explore our Individual product options at aetna.com” and “you have the option to buy coverage through your state’s Health Insurance Exchange.” Wouldn’t it have been great if, instead, it had said “We recommend you replace your Small Group Coverage with our plan XXX, which will cost you $Y per month and have a $Z deductible. Please see attached document for full details.” Why wouldn’t they do this? Because they would have to do some work, and they don’t care.
5. They Could Have Been Nice on the Phone
When we called to see if we could extend our coverage by one month in order to give us more time to explore our options, they basically said that they had fulfilled their legal obligations and we were on our own. Becky is going on her Senior Class Trip the first week of March and I have already provided the organizers with the insurance details, which are clearly wrong. I’m now under pressure to wade through the Health Insurance Exchange and find a plan that won’t cost the earth and allows us to keep our current providers by Feb 28. Why wouldn’t they extend us at least this courtesy? Because they really don’t care.