Williamsburg couple’s health insurance premium skyrockets 75 percent

Thomas and Liz Ema

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – A couple who were covered by an individual health care policy say their insurer has stopped writing such coverage, so now they are left with only one option that costs 75 percent more.

Thomas Ema is a retired graphic artist who was self-employed. He says Anthem told him in December it was no longer writing policies for individuals in James City County.

“Since I was self-employed, we’ve always had a an individual plan, and they dropped it,” Ema said.

So his only option now is Optima, and his monthly cost of coverage went from $1,600 to $2,800.

Liz Ema says the couple will have a tough time making ends meet. “We all get expenses – maybe something happens with your car and it’s that one month hit, and your budget adjusts. But this is every single month.”

“Anything extra that we were thinking about doing is pretty much off the table, so it’s gonna be a tough year,” her husband said.

Ema needs monthly treatments for an immune deficiency that would cost $8,000 each if he had to pay for them out of pocket. He also has diabetes, as well as lymphoma that is currently in remission. But he wasn’t dropped for medical reasons.

He says it was a decision by Anthem to stop writing individual policies where he lives. He’s concerned that the financial pressure will start to affect his health. “I’m concerned that the stress I’m feeling now has that potential and I’m just trying to manage it the best that I can.”

We’re going to ask why Anthem would drop individual policies in the Williamsburg area, and find out what can be done to help self-employed people get health coverage, when we explore this problem next week in depth.