Government House's math is wrong on the health insurance premiums
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To quote former President Bill Clinton, "It's in the math." In September, Virgin Islands consumers learned that shipping rates would be going up, that the LEAC increase would inch up to $40-plus a month - if you are talking residential rates, and heaven help the business owners who will pay more - and that if you have CIGNA health insurance through the government, your premium rates have barely risen or they have catapulted to an unheard-of high.
As a senior citizen, my coverage has gone up 64 percent. Government House said its rationale was that seniors use more coverage and pay less than those still actively working for the government, whose rate was increased 1.6 percent.
Somehow, no one noted that most retired government workers have been paying into the government insurance health programs for many years. Personally, my husband has paid premiums for nearly 40 years, many years during which the premium paid exceeded the claims filed.
For those who do not know, CIGNA offers two categories of coverage for the insured: Single or Family (one or more dependents.) Many seniors are fortunate to have a spouse alive, therefore, the insured pays family rates.
Now, if I am among those still actively employed, I am paying a 1.6 percent increase for 80 percent of coverage.
If I am a retiree over 65 and have Medicare insurance, which pays 80 percent of doctor, hospital and medical costs, I am paying a CIGNA premium with a 64 percent increase for 20 percent coverage.
A heads up to the government: You had better revisit the 2013 fiscal budget because the increase on seniors will result in increased demand for assistance (Medicaid, SNAP, etc.). Local insurance agents may be able to meet those WAPA increases with new senior citizen clients.
How many seniors are leaving the Virgin Islands because their fixed incomes have been stretched to the breaking point? Fewer citizens equals less revenue. That's the math.
- Diana Parker, a retired educator and community activist, lives on St. Thomas.