In November we set out to check Volsky’s figures. Mrs. Sundby gave her insurance broker permission to speak with us about her case, and the broker was able to confirm that Volsky’s figures for the platinum plan were accurate to within a few dollars.
But as to the canceled plan, Volsky turned out to be using the Yglesias Method of making stuff up. Mrs. Sundby supplied us with statements from PacifiCare, which show that the monthly 2013 premium was just $1,107–an increase of 27%, not 40%, from 2012. The deductible was $5,000 and the individual in-network copayment $4,000. It adds up to $22,284–nearly $9,000 less than Volsky’s figure for the Blue Cross platinum plan.
Two additional caveats are necessary: First, the Sundbys’ old plan was not for the couple alone but also covered two daughters, both of whom turn 26 this year and thus will no longer be eligible for the family plan. Second, individual out-of-pocket maximums are generally half the family total, so that the comparable figure for the platinum plan would have been $4,000 less than Volsky’s estimate, or $27,028. Thus the Blue Cross plan would have cost 21% more despite covering two people instead of four.
The Sundbys ended up purchasing a “silver” plan from Blue Shield with a monthly premium of $1,438 and an individual out-of-pocket maximum of $6,350. That’s an annual total of $23,606, not counting any out-of-pocket expenses Mr. Sundby (who is in excellent health) might incur–or a modest 6% increase over the equivalent 2013 PacifiCare costs.