Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Health insurance: it's all clear now

I'm not going to go over the whole health insurance debate that is going on in the US at the moment: it will make me angry.

Instead I'm going to write about something I just realised about how it all "works".

We've had to have our own insurance lately because my company doesn't provide it (though hopefully they will be shortly). When we got our insurance (itself a debacle of a process), our agent warned us that in six months time the price will go up significantly and we'll have to go through it all again.

Well, sure enough, we've just been informed the our premiums are going up significantly. By 26% in fact. So surely this is justified? Surely we've put such a great burden on them that they can only afford to keep us if they bump their rates to account for the massive losses we are causing?

Well, no actually. We've hardly used them. I haven't worked it out, but they've clearly made off like bandits with us, taking in hundreds of dollars more than we have used.

As I said, our agent said this is common practice, and it was because we were put into a group and certain people in the group got ill and that pushed up the premiums of everyone in the group. But it doesn't seem to make sense, because all it does it push everyone to cancel their insurance and take their business elsewhere.

But today I think I've got it figured out. They want us to leave. They've successfully made a profit out of us. "Thanks for the money, now go and take your risk elsewhere. We'll have no problem finding other people to milk for six months instead". The less time they keep us for, the less chance of us getting sick while they're covering us. And if we do get sick, well, they'll try their hardest to deny the claims, and if that fails they'll pay as little as they can, after which they will cancel you as soon as you can, with a pre-existing condition so you'll never be insured again.

You're out of the system.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

T-Mobile massively increase text messaging rates

Today I happened to notice a notice on the about text messaging rate increases. I was astounded to see that they are going up from an already too high 0.15 each to 0.20. That's a third, 33.33333% increase for a service that must surely cost them practically nothing to provide on an ongoing basis. Each message probably doesn't even occupy 1k.

It's worse though. Here in the US you get charged to receive them, as well as send them. So anybody could cost you money simply by sending you a joke text message they think you'll appreciate. Then there's the spam that we're not supposed to get but do anyway.

I suppose this is designed to push me into what they want me to do all along: buy a messaging bundle. My cheapest option is 400 a month for 4.99. If you use them all up, this works out at 0.012 per message, which is obviously a lot more like it. At the other end of the scale, I have to send or receive at least 25 a month in order to avoid end up paying more than 0.20 per message.

Given that my normal usage pattern generally puts me at about that mark, I'm basically screwed. I either stick with what I have and hope I don't go over 25 messages in a month, or just buy the bundle and feel compelled to send more messages than I would otherwise want to.

Last month my messaging usage came to 4.80, or 32 messages. At the new rate that would be $6.40. Definitely worth it. The month before though I only sent 13.


Alright, T-Mobile, you win. I've added the messaging bundle to my service.