I have a math question to pose for all those congressmen and senators who cannot seem to find common ground on health care reform. It is a word problem — the kind you used to hate back in high school algebra class.
Here it is:
I’m 59-years-old. My plan was to semi-retire, working part-time as a newspaper reporter, for at least another half-dozen years. That got derailed in April, when the newspaper company laid me off. Subsequently, my income has decreased by about 95 percent.
My husband, 61, is retired from his state job, but works part-time for the town of Eagle. The town has frozen wages, in the face of the current economy, so his income will not be changing in the coming year.
We’re several years away from qualifying for Medicare.
We just got a notice from our health insurance company that our premiums will be increasing by 24 percent for next year. An extra $500 has been added to the deductible.
You do the math. We will be paying more, and earning considerably less.
We don’t qualify for employer health insurance benefits. We are self-insured, which means an expensive monthly premium (more than our home mortgage payment), and a high deductible. Our insurance is far from a “Cadillac” plan. Keeping with the car metaphor, our present health care program is more like the AMC Gremlin plan. (We got the rude awakening when we first became self-insured. The price of a three-months supply of a prescription medication jumped from the $50 I paid while insured by my employer to $260.)
We are counting on those elected officials in Washington to get a handle on the health care situation. We need more efficiency in the health care system, and the spiraling costs need to be brought under control. A public option would make those profit-happy insurance companies sit up and take notice.
We fully realize that despite the growing cost to us, we’re much better off than the many people in this valley who can’t afford insurance at all.
But from a personal viewpoint, the question comes down to this math formula:
Unemployment + wage freeze + insurance premium increase =
Need for health care reform. Now.