Almost all other developed countries believe health care is a need that must be provided for their citizens. So why not us? Oh yeah. They are socialist and we are not. They have higher taxes. Oh, yeah.
I got ill when I heard my Representative to Congress say that he didn’t understand the problem, that if his kid needed care and the insurance didn’t cover it, he would just write a check. Steve Largent (pictured) was a better football player than politician and somehow, thankfully, he is not in politics now—but he was a football player, and in Oklahoma, that counts for a lot. If he had played for the Sooners, he would have been elected governor.
We set up the rules making it all but impossible for an individual to acquire and keep health insurance on a long-term basis because we allow insurance companies to drop coverage when people get sick and start incurring costs.
Billy is a new college graduate, but goes to work for a company without health insurance benefits. Being responsible, he goes and buys a plan, just to cover unexpected expenses. He gets a $2,500 deductible plan and pays about $225 a month for it. He uses it sparingly, but makes sure to get an annual check-up. Billy is making $45,000 a year, so this costs him almost 6% of his before-tax income. His friends tell him he is insane because is something really bad happens to him the hospital will have to take care of him and he can have a lot of fun on the $2,700 he is paying the insurance company every year..
Three years later, Billy gets married and adds his Susie to his policy, which now costs about $450 a month, same deductible. Between them, they make about $75,000, so this is about 8% of their pre-tax income.
A couple of years later, they decide to have a baby and Billy lowers the deductible to $250, which raises the premium to $550 a month, or about 9% of their income. The baby is premature and spends a month in the neo-natal unit at a cost not to be imagined. The insurance does what it is supposed to do: it pays the bill. Billy and Susie are very happy they had the insurance.
The next year, Billy falls while rappelling and injures his back and knees, and requires multiple surgeries and will suffer from pain the rest of his life. His mobility is decreased. Again, the insurance pays.
When it comes time for renewal, the insurance company looks at the profitability on Billy’s policy and sees they have lost money and cancel his policy. And he cannot get another one he is told because of the chronic condition he now suffers from.
Being a caring and responsible person, he finds a job at a company that provides health insurance, but to do so, he takes a 20% pay cut and still has to pay $250 a month.
If you think this is not reality, check me out.
There are many people without health insurance these days who have jobs but just cannot afford it.
Oh, and about the higher taxes? They really are not that much higher and when you figure in the costs we have to pay for health care, the difference vanishes.
The other thing they do not have to worry about is going bankrupt because they cannot pay a health care bill. This is one of the leading reasons for personal bankruptcies in this country. I guess the Republican answer is to be like Largent and be in the position to just write the check or don’t get sick.
Many people are like Billy, making sure they have taken care of their responsibility to protect their families and passing up jobs with better futures, or not going out on their own because of the risk of financial devastation if they or one of their kids gets sick or hurt.
Take away this problem, and just watch the boom in start-ups and new businesses.
The cost of not having insurance stifles creativity being put into play in the marketplace. I hate sounding this jaded, but I wonder if that is not intentional.