Health reform payoff

Todd Dills | August 01, 2010

White says she empathizes with haulers who have similar histories. “One major illness and you’re bankrupt if you don’t have insurance,” she says.

She’s also quick to point out the first thing she looks at in an insurance plan isn’t premium cost but the coverage amount.

“I’ve got a $2 million cap,” she says of her plan through Crete. “A lot of policies have fairly high deductibles, and the caps are low.”

Last year’s GAO report noted the average policy among state HRPs carried an annual deductible of $1,593. That’s almost three times higher than the average employer-sponsored-plan deductible, though it’s lower than White’s $2,750 deductible, which she meets every year, she says.

The vast majority of state HRPs, noted GAO, came with lifetime benefits limits averaging $1.6 million. While limitations such as these are characteristic of somewhat less-expansive plans in the employer-sponsored market, they might well be considered typical of plans for high-risk individuals with turbulent medical histories.

“Crete’s plan is a PPO,” White says, meaning she chooses specialists and generalists from a preferred provider organization network. “It’s a really good policy.”

“As soon as they heard that, they basically hung up.”

– Mandy Boyer, wife of former owner-operator Gary Boyer, about efforts to secure health coverage.

White feels fortunate to have the ability to buy into her carrier’s plan as a leased owner-operator. Some carriers don’t allow that due to the increased government scrutiny of independent contractor relationships among businesses. At Boyer’s former carrier, for instance, buying into the company health plan wasn’t an option, he says, so he and his wife were forced to shop for individual policies.

“I was an owner-operator for under a year – I just recently gave it up,” he said in June. “We had to do something. We went without insurance for us or the kids for a year.” Adding insult to injury, Mandy had to quit her part-time sales job with Sears to get the family income below the threshold to qualify for Indiana’s Medicaid program.

Soon, the Boyers will have insurance for themselves, when the three-month waiting period at Gary’s new carrier, Covenant Transport, is over. Boyer says Mandy “is pretty happy that I’m a company driver again.”

How to get high-risk coverage strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.