For the third time in as many weeks, the Seattle Times editorial board is advocating that Congress drop their efforts at health care reform for the foreseeable future.
Given the shrinkage of the economy since 2007, this is not the time to promise every American a new benefit. And that is what these bills want to do. By their attempt at generosity, they would raise the cost of creating a job, especially by small employers.
Spoken like somebody with decent health care coverage.
I, on the other hand, am not so fortunate. For all but a few scattered years of my adult life I have purchased my own health insurance coverage via individual plans, and every year I have seen my costs rise, my benefits fall, and my security ebb away. As of now I spend over $200 a month for a $1,900 deductible and zero preventative care. It is a “catastrophic” coverage plan that, should I ever become seriously ill or injured, would supposedly limit my out of pocket expenses to about $10,000 a year… plus the cost of prescription drugs.
That said, for the tens of thousands of dollars I have paid into the system over the past couple decades, I have never had a claim paid, and when I do seek medical care I am always billed the full retail rate… as much as four or five times higher than the negotiated rate my insurance company would have paid had they covered the service. If I had the income, I could spend more each month for more generous coverage, but as an individual it would always cost me much more and cover much less than the type of plans one can buy through a group. And even this expensive option would be closed off to me should I first develop a chronic illness or injury, which under current law would forever prevent me from purchasing adequate coverage due to a preexisting condition.
And to top it all off, as an individual, with no group or corporation to fight for me, I am exactly the type of person for whom insurance companies are notorious for dropping coverage once a claim is made.
I have never, in my entire life, had a lapse of coverage. I, my parents or our employers have faithfully paid into our health insurance “system” on my behalf for every single one of my 46 years. And yet with each passing year the likelihood that I will be left permanently destitute by a serious illness increases. And this is the broken system the Seattle Times would leave in place, possibly for another generation should our current attempt at comprehensive reform collapse?
But then, I guess, if you already have adequate coverage, reform must seem less urgent.