Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My rant on health insurance

I am one of the 47 million people in the United States without health insurance.

I’m 47. I’m self-employed. My husband had a mild, treatable, totally over form of cancer in 1999. I’ve been to the doctor once or twice for not-very-serious problems. According to the insurance companies, we’re both in the “high risk” group. Even though we both exercise every day, are of moderate weight and almost never get sick. My son went to the doctor last summer for his football physical, an appointment which consisted mostly of weighing, measuring, two shots and the doctor remarking on what great shape Sean was in. It cost $300.

We know people who have $10,000 deductible insurance which costs $1000 a month. (This is more like paying the mob not to burn down your house than health insurance.) The last time we were quoted a policy it was well over $1000 a month. This was a couple of years ago, and the premiums go up for individual policies by 15-30% a year. Moreover, insurance companies have a nasty habit of revoking your policy if you ever need it. We’re hoping, I guess, to make it to medicare without getting hit by a drunk driver or getting cancer or whatever else could happen to us.

So I was excited about the policy of health reform, but I am very, very worried about what’s on the table. The Baucus plan would require us to spend at least 13.5% of our income on payments to health insurance companies. It might be a lot more. I’m not sure what the number is for a family of three, but they’re quoting for four, and it’s just over $55,000. I make more than that most years. Which would mean that I would be required to pay whatever the insurance companies wanted to charge. I don’t have an extra $20,000 a year lying around. I don’t like giving money to what is essentially a criminal enterprise. If there’s no public option, all health reform will be, for me, is a requirement to make Anthem Blue Cross even more profitable than it already is.

I resent being called a “free rider.” I pay for everything my family needs. I pay into Medicare every year for other people though not, for another 20 years, for myself. I don’t have any of those fat slob long-term problems like diabetes, heart disease. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs or drive recklessly. My family has never used more than $6000 worth of health services in a year, and that was the year my husband had skin cancer. What Blue Cross wants is for me to pay them two to three times the maximum exposure they could ever have in insuring me. To hell with them. I’m keeping the money.

This talk of exchanges is complete bullshit. There are only a couple of insurance companies that do business at all in New Hampshire. We’ve had policies cancelled when one of them left the state because of some sort of regulation that made it harder to dump people will illnesses. There’s no reason to think that anything will change after reform, or that costs will be lower because of “competition.” (Competition with who? It’s a monopoly.) We need a public option and if our government delivers a mandate without a public option, they have screwed every self-employed person in the country.

But what else is new?


Anne said...

Ain't that the truth...


hear hear women
i am one of the "lucky" ones
no health insurance
used to do lots of drugs
drink only on occasion now
needs to be in better shape
i have paid for ever doctor hospital visit i ever had
i have not been to the "dr" in 4 years
never had any major problems
but i feel they are coming

This comment has been removed by the author.
francksauzee said...

Here in Germany around 14% of your income goes to a health insurance company of your choice, regardless of how much you earn and state of health. The companies differ slightly in some of the minor things they cover, but not by much. If you're unemployed or on a low income then you're still insured. There seems to be a consensus here that this is a price worth paying for universal health care. I'm not sure that people would be willing to pay much more than 14% and of course keeping it this low relies on some paying significantly more than they need to (my contributions since I've been here correspond to around €20,000 for each doctors visit.) I haven't really followed the health reform discussion that closely, but isn't it true that such a consensus doesn't exist in the US (at least not yet)?

jenniferpkelly said...

Well, actually, they've decided to limit premium payments for people with incomes up to three times the poverty line to 13.5% of income, which is about the same as what you're talking about. Anything above that, and you're required to pay what the market will bear. So, say the dividing line is $66,000 and you make $67,000...you pay whatever the insurance companies want to charge, which would be, as I said, $1000-2000 a month, or as much as a third of income. There's also the whole issue of out-of-pocket and deductibles, which no one has defined yet, but here, even if you have insurance, you typically have to pay $20-$50 per doctor's visit and all costs up to a certain level, often something like $1000.

I would be happy to pay 14% of income to get my family into Medicare, by the way. That seems fair.

I think your system would be considered overly burdensome on the very rich here. We take care of the wealthy in America, that's for sure.

Ian said...

I was extremely saddened (and confused!) to see the public option fall off the table down there. Whatever problems Canadian healthcare has, paying monthly for medical care is not one of them.