New insurance fees arriving in East Texas mailboxes
Many East Texans are beginning to receive letters from their insurance providers in the mail, alerting them that their costs are on the way up.
Providers say the price increases are due to two fees imposed under the Affordable Care Act.
The letter was a surprise to Tyler realtor Jonathan Wolf, who decided to keep his current plan.
“I opened it up and the first thing I saw was the Affordable Health Care Act thing,” Wolf said. “I went oh my gosh, I really didn't think my insurance plan would get hit by that.”
In a notice from Blue Cross Blue Shield, he was told he would be paying 4.65% more than the previous year. That notice came with an insert, stating the price increases were not imposed by the company and the additional fees were instead due to the Affordable Care Act.
How much a consumer’s price will increase varies on their plan, ranging anywhere from 4% to upwards of 20%.
“These are to help fund the Affordable Care Act, that's all in a nutshell,” said Tyler insurance agent Robert Hahn.
“From a month to month standpoint, it's not going to break my bank,” Wolf said. “But when you look at it from a year standpoint, that's $400. That's a chunk of change that I wasn't planning on paying.”
Nationally, there is also the concern about many people losing their plans altogether. But Hahn said that hasn’t happened in East Texas.
“We have about 4,500 people that have a piece of paper with us and they're getting small increases and that's about it,” he said. “The winners in this are the people that have no insurance, because they're going to get insurance at a low cost or sometimes no cost.”
It’s a consumers like Wolf are just going to have to stomach.
“It seems like there's a lot of people that pay and pick up the slack for others,” Wolf said. “I understand if you can’t afford it because it is extremely expensive. I have trouble affording it. But at the same time, I have two children and I don't feel like I can go without it.”
Insurance agents said consumers should also expect to pay an additional $65 fee related to the reforms once it is time to file tax returns next year.
The law requires all individuals to be insured beginning this January, or they could face additional penalties.