Accountant fears for her Chestertown company's policy COCHRAN ACCOUNTING SERVICES


CHESTERTOWN -- Susan Cochran Sutton dropped her husband's health insurance three years ago and got insurance for her small accounting firm just so she could design a plan to serve her family.

"I wanted to be able to cover my employees, and I wanted a better plan" than the one her husband's employer offered.

The power to mold her own benefits is one of the reasons she took over her father's business. "That is one of the benefits of being self-employed," she said.

So the 33-year-old mother of two paid $311 a month for family coverage that she loved. Blue Cross had kept its increases to a reasonable 5 percent or so a year.

And, Ms. Sutton said, "I was really tickled" because the plan charged a small fee for doctors' visits.

Then, last week, she opened a letter announcing that her old plan had been reformed by the state legislature.

Starting July 1, her health plan would cost her $640 a month -- more than double her old rate.

"I was just floored.

"There is no way I can afford it," she said.

And that means her family, and the one of her three employees who also bought insurance through the company, will lose their insurance at the end of the month.

Ms. Sutton is now shopping for an insurer that will sell her an individual policy.

She will probably end up paying a couple hundred dollars a month for a policy with a high deductible -- essentially covering her only if she or her children suffer a serious injury or illness.

And her employee will also have to search for insurance on her own.

Ms. Sutton can't understand why her rates have doubled when neither she nor her children have had many claims. "I think Blue Cross is making out like a bandit."

Recalling the insurer's recent financial difficulties, she said, "Boy, I'll bet they are going to be financially stable now.

E9 "I'm being penalized because I am healthy," she said.

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