Here’s to your health (insurance)


By Neil Offen

It’s almost healthcare insurance enrollment time and changes have been made to your health insurance plan. You are receiving this Annual Notice of Changes for 2024 because we believe you may have finally figured out your Annual Notice of Changes for 2023 and are returning to consciousness.

On the next 322 pages, you will find all the changes for next year. Some of them will be included in indecipherable tables, while others will be presented in incomprehensible paragraphs or unintelligible charts. Remember, it’s your choice!

Check the changes to our benefits and costs and see if they affect you. If they do affect you, you have until the end of the month to scream out loud.

[Please note that when this booklet says “we,” “us,” or “our,” it doesn’t mean you, your spouse or cousin Hal in San Francisco. Also, this booklet is available in a number of other languages, maybe including actual English.]

So, what’s new with your monthly plan premium:

If you are currently enrolled in an HMO, PDP, EPO, POS, BTW, LOL, SMH or WTF plan, you will need more letters for 2024, as alphabet costs have risen. Consequently, your premium will increase from your current level to far more than you expected or planned for, and you may have to forego next summer’s trip to Paris or even to Morehead City.

If you are not currently enrolled in an HMO, PDP, EPO, POS, BTW, LOL, SMH or WTF plan, don’t get sick.

What’s new with your in-network and out-of-network benefits:

For 2024, plan members can receive in-network expenses only for those occasions when they become violently ill because of an overdose of streaming network options and nevertheless continue watching too many old sitcoms about quirky roommates who have nothing in common but find out they are both aliens with an interest in farm-to-table bistros. Plans do not include any even quirkier neighbors beyond those who are considered Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR).

Out-of-network describes all the medical providers who are so out of touch they have waiting rooms with National Geographic magazines from the late 1990s, including all the ones that feature stories on what really happened to the dinosaurs.

What’s new with your prescription drug coverage:

Drugs will be divided into five tiers. All your drugs, however, will be in Tier 6.

If you choose to get a 90-day supply of your drugs from a mail-order pharmacy, remember that you have to choose which days. For 2024, you are not allowed to choose any Thursdays. That’s because we can.

What’s new with your co-insurance or co-payment:

For 2024, we’re switching the meaning of co-insurance and co-payment because our research has shown that no one actually knows the difference between the two anyway. We have decided to now keep them in alphabetical order.

What’s new with the Open Enrollment Period:

The open enrollment period has already begun. It can’t be over soon enough.

Carrboro resident Neil Offen has been a humor columnist for four decades and in two countries. His new book, “Building a Better Boomer,” will be published on Dec. 1. He’ll be signing books and speaking at Flyleaf Books on Jan. 4.

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