Friday, November 13, 2009

On Advertising w/ a Bonus Health Care Rant

I recently heard a radio ad for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. They bragged that they never turn anyone away. They insure everyone.

What they didn’t say? They have to.

In the state of Michigan, BCBSM is the insurer of last resort. Other companies can deny you coverage. BCBSM cannot.

Is it dishonest? Well, no.

But it is misleading because it takes an obligation and pretends like it is a voluntary commitment to health care.

And while I am here, I recently changed my plan and found out that my employer “cannot pay for my premium or reimburse me in anyway.”

I asked the phone jockey, “With what shall I pay it? I have no money that doesn’t come from my employer.” She didn’t know what to say. And with good reason. There is nothing to say.

You see, here’s the deal: If my employer no longer pays for my health insurance, my paycheck goes up by the amount of that premium and I pay for it.

Who is affected? Only me. My employer pays me the same amount in my salary package; BCBSM gets the same amount of money.

The only difference is that now my health insurance premium is taxable income.

To top it off, BCBSM says, “Your employer cannot pay for it or reimburse you in anyway for it. But we don’t care what arrangements you make with your employer.”

In other words, do what you want with reporting your salary, just make sure you write a personal check for your premium.

Ah, if only my conscience were seared. I could get away with it. But it’s not. At least not in that area.

I could set up an HRA which is pretax money. But it’s employer funded.

Here’s another one: If BCBSM catches my employer paying for it, they can cancel my policy. But if I reapply, they supposedly cannot turn me away because they are the insurer of last resort.

With all the fuss about health care,  you would think Congress would pass a two line bill that says, “All individual health premiums can be paid with pretax money.”

Now that would be a health care bill that would actually benefit someone.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are so right. BCBSM paints itself as insurer of last resort. I hope that if health reform passes, that we don't have to resort to BCBSM. I look forward to having alternatives.