Letter to U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown

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Dear Senator Sherrod Brown,

Thank you for June 10th letter, confirming that Ohio is a state that is required to publicly post rate increase justifications, to provide more transparency to the public. You said that I should share my concerns with the Ohio Department of Insurance.  I did in fact contact the Ohio Department of Insurance before I wrote to you last month. The Ohio Department of Insurance told me that they do not release the rate justifications until they are finalized.

We have a problem in Ohio with the Ohio Department of Insurance interfering in the public’s right to obtain public records.

The Ohio Department of Insurance has also withheld my April request for public records of health insurance complaints, specifically, complaints about provider networks. And I recently found out that the department shreds complaints they receive after they image them, then erase them after only two years from the date the complaint was decided on.  So already they have destroyed two months worth of complaints while they are stalling out the inevitable release of the public records, public records that I am and have been completely entitled to.

I wonder what records the Ohio Department of Insurance has destroyed in those two months during the time I had a right to see them. Why is it they are is such a big hurry to destroy public records of health insurance complaints, with a short, two-year retention schedule? Two years is hardly any time at all, to show trends, to help Ohioans understand the problems and help them solve those problems.

What is the Ohio Department of Insurance hiding?

The Ohio Department of Insurance grants every health insurance rate increase, no matter how high or unreasonable. For example, they allowed my insurance to go up 224% the year it went on the marketplace. They do not release the rate justifications when they are supposed to, they never lower the requested double-digit increases, and that is how the Ohio Department of Insurance enabled my insurance to go up 373% in just 7 short years. And really, do they really have the right to do that?

I don’t make 3.73 times more money than I did in 2009. It would be nice if I did, because then I could keep up with my health insurance premiums!

However, I live in Ohio, a state where they don’t care much about the welfare of their people, where the median income in Ohio, has actually decreased by 7.5% during those years, while my premiums have increased by 373%.

The insurance and hospital and pharmaceutical industries have all raised their rates, in their unrelenting greed, to make a quick killing. They know that double and triple digit rate hikes are unsustainable, so they pick at our bones like ravens. The Ohio Department of Insurance is not protecting us from assault.

The Ohio Department of Insurance needs to be investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. I hope you are concerned enough to make that happen.

Ohioans, Americans, have a human right to healthcare, just like we have a right to education.  The Ohio Department of Insurance is enabling an entire industry to bankrupt us. How can prices go up double-digits, triple digits even, every year? It’s not just the ACA law causing rates to go up, it’s the concurrent unreasonable increases in hospital prices, the absolutely insane pharmaceutical prices, and the Ohio Department of Insurance right there playing ball with them, when they should be serving the people of Ohio! How can we not demand that they start serving the people today?

We need your help, Senator Brown! Please stop making us victims of greedy corporate greed. Health insurance should never be “profits over people.” Health insurance should not rule people’s lives and bankrupt them. It should not be the single most important factor in a family’s life when considering employment, or in determining where to live. It should not be the biggest part of a family’s budget, and one that gets bigger every year.

We have a human right to healthcare, so we can get on with our lives. The ACA law is not working because even though every insurance has to have basically the same benefits, the problem is now that the prices in these same/similar benefit plans can vary as much as 600%! And why? We are supposed to believe that it’s the luck of the draw — there are so many fragmented “risk pools” and you just don’t know what you are getting into.

You can’t know any details – you just have to cross your fingers, hold your nose, and get pushed into the health insurance cesspool.

If you actually want quality insurance — maybe because that’s what you’ve always had all your life and you’ve grown to expect quality — and that’s how I am, and my dad was like that too — then you are considered “high risk.” It becomes expensive and you are told that it’s expensive because lots of high-risk people choose to buy the quality insurance, and they tend to be older. And the insurance company tells you they are oh-so sick.

Senator Sherrod Brown, you wrote in your letter that “the health reform law is increasing competition and choice, and promoting affordability within the health insurance market.” and that premiums increased only by an average of 2%.

For some reason, the cheap plans hardly go up in price, while the quality insurances spin out of control! I think that if you were in my shoes, Senator Brown, you would want to buy the quality insurance. Shouldn’t we all have quality insurance?

I received an email from the Marketplace last December saying that I could save 50% if I changed plans (for me it was more like 600%). I thought they were kidding, did they know what they were saying, as if they were endorsing premiums to go up 50% in a year! But now I realize that the Marketplace actually planned it that way — getting people to switch over to the cheap plans instead of controlling the cost of the expensive plans. To think I could have saved 600% if I would have changed plans. Amazing that that’s how much more the quality silver plan is, from the cheapest silver plan. With the same benefits!… only with the the expensive plans, you actually get a doctor.

It’s a stupid game; a blatant money grab. The quality of healthcare is reduced (or eliminated) while the government price for it is double.

And if you want the quality health insurance, maybe because you’ve always had it in the past, well that will cost you six times more.

Senator Sherrod Brown, please give us single-payer health insurance. But in the mean time, please do something about Ohio complying with “effective rate review,” because as U.S. taxpayers, we expect our tax dollars to be used for purpose of which the tax dollars were intended. I sure would like to know now the details of what I’m in for in 2017, so I can plan.

Thank you again for your letter, and for your time.

Sincerely,

Penny Gentieu

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