Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Healthcare insurance isn't auto insurance

A quick break from my work duties to share this diddy from our clueless president via ABC News: ["Interview with the President: Jail Time for Those without Health Care Insurance?"].

On the issue of jail time for people who don't comply and buy federal government approved health insurance, President Obama reportedly said:
“What I think is appropriate is that in the same way that everybody has to get auto insurance and if you don't, you're subject to some penalty, that in this situation, if you have the ability to buy insurance, it's affordable and you choose not to do so, forcing you and me and everybody else to subsidize you, you know, there's a thousand dollar hidden tax that families all across America are -- are burdened by because of the fact that people don't have health insurance, you know, there's nothing wrong with a penalty.”
OK first, we can put to bed the accusations that criminal penalties are a rightwing conspiracy. Criminal penalties do exist in the bill. And the president thinks it is a good idea.
Second, I don't know about any of you but health insurance is by no means compares to auto insurance. It is a stretch to compare car insurance to health care insurance.
Here is a personal example: We have two cars in my household, excellent driving records, and extensive coverage. Our bill? Less than $100 per month for two relatively new but granted, inexpensive cars. It's about $1,000 a year.
Now, let's compare that to health insurance.
Right now, I pay $5,200 per year to cover my family via an OK plan through my employer which also has $25 co-pays and $3,000 deductibles. So, technically, it costs us much more than $5k a year to cover our health expenses. It's better than nothing, for sure.
But I, not unlike a lot of folks, was in a different situation not that long ago which makes this supposed health care reform bill intolerable.
In 2007, when I was unemployed and restarted my job at my current employer (but didn't have benefits), I had a very bad Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield plan. For three of us, it was $900 per month, with $5,000 deductible. I kept it up as long as I could. But unemployment payments couldn't keep up with everything else. So, I dropped my insurance, got my old job back, and hoped for the best until my work plan kicked in.
According to this health care proposal, I would have been brought up on criminal charges for doing this because of no fault of my own. I just couldn't afford to cover the costs and we made too much money to qualify for anything. There were millions of people like me at that time in my life. There are millions now. And even with a federal subsidy, it still doesn't bring the costs down enough to make it realistic. And yet, the Congress, in its infinite wisdom, rammed this through. It's just plain wrong.
A bit more to get the point across: If you are self employed or have a shitty job without benefits in New Hampshire, the shitty Anthem plan your cheapest choice. I know, I looked into it extensively. So, if you were a family of three two years ago, that's nearly $11,000 AFTER taxes. If you are self-employed, you can deduct some of this expense. But if you aren't, you're out of luck.
Stay with me for a minute: Imagine you are a family of three bringing home $50k, which is realistic and, actually, above average in New Hampshire. Can you afford to take $10k-plus and pay for health care out of pocket? No, you can't.
First, about $10k is taken out in various taxes. If you rent a two- or three-bedroom apartment, or pay property taxes on a modest home, that's another $10k to $12k, or maybe more. Car payments, car insurance, food, electric, Internet/cable, telephone, and that's another $15k, easy. Tack on the shitty Anthem plan, and you're left with about $2 a week for gas, tolls, clothing, school supplies, cellphone, holidays ... what else am I forgetting?
In other words, even if you are earning a decent clip, private health insurance bought out of pocket is just not realistic in modern times. Look at the costs this bill is suggesting. They are pretty close to the shitty Anthem plan! In other words, it can't be done!
Give yourself an education. Sit down and do the math and you will realize that you too could be living in a similar situation as some of us do or have. And that makes this bill all the more intolerable and this president all the more clueless to the realities of working folks.

The time is now for single-payer
Simply put, the time is now for single-payer. It's the only answer to the problem. Bernie Sanders's bill S. 702 will cover everyone with a simple 3 percent payroll tax. This move will lower municipal government expenses which means we'll have more money for our roads, schools, and even employees to do the jobs we need done in our cities and towns. It will free up billions of dollars in capital from for-profit companies currently offering health care benefits. They can take this money out of the benefit plans and put it back into hiring people, buying new equipment, etc. It is a win-win-win. It really is the only way to go. More about this later.

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