Still Can’t Afford Insurance

Wednesday, June 12, 2013
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Interesting that the articles about Obamacare and about the possible closures of the Neighborhood Clinics were on the same page in last week’s issue of The Independent.

As the only employee of a local professional, my benefits are that I love and do well at my job, and actually get praise for the work I do. I am a middle-aged woman, and lack of health insurance is a constant companion.

Not that I am irresponsible or just haven’t bothered, but the price of health insurance is just not in the budget. If I had that kind of extra money hanging around I would have a new non-gas-guzzling car instead of the 20-year-old car that I try to keep running. I make a fairly good income (for Santa Barbara), but it all goes to rent, food, gas, and utilities. New clothes? Haircut? Vacation? Get real.

After reading the Obamacare blurb, I thought I would get online and check Covered California and the so-called affordable health insurance options. My question is: Affordable for whom? Not me, and I’m sure not many others in my category. I have checked insurance in the past with high hopes, and it is no more affordable now than it was two, three, or four years ago. The difference now is that it covers even less.

For anywhere between $275 to $800 and more per month, you have the privilege of having a $5,000 to $8,000 deductible, copays of $40 or $50 or more, and coinsurance fees (what is coinsurance?). Insurance doesn’t kick in until the deductible is paid, and many cover only 50-60% of what is covered.

What kind of get-rich-quick scheme is this? We know what it is – it’s called private insurance companies. Pay a big portion of your monthly income on the off-chance something bad happens. If many of you are like me, to pay that insurance bill every month will be a choice between eating, and/or driving to work, and/or having a phone, and/or having a roof over your head. Yes, there are supposedly subsidies for those just above the poverty line ($15,000.00 per year for a single – who can pay Santa Barbara rent on that?), and some assistance for those making up to $44,000 per year (again, who can pay Santa Barbara rents on that?). What happened to insurance that actually covered doctor visits, medicine, and lab tests, with a $10 or $20 copay?

Are you ready? It will be interesting to see what happens when this goes into effect – how many people will actually be able to purchase insurance, how many just won’t because they can’t. I was an Obama supporter, like most of us, but this healthcare thing has turned into a joke, and the laughing will be at most-of-our expense. And there will still be people going bankrupt due to healthcare bills.

Maybe it will get some real health care reform to happen, like a single payer program that should have been enacted to get rid of the rich-and-getting-richer insurance companies.

In the meantime, those of us who do not work in big companies with all those lovely benefits will have to be content with getting our care at the Neighborhood Clinics, which, thank God, are there and almost affordable. But wait! The Neighborhood Clinics may be closing due to lack of funding! Does anyone realize what that is going to do to Santa Barbara? There will not be any care for most of us that work for a living. There is no back-up for working folk. Medi-Cal is not available to everyone (though that is what should have been implemented with the healthcare law), medically-indigent adult funding (for singles that do not qualify for Medi-cal) is only available to those making $600 per month or less (that leaves out almost every working person). The Immedicenters are an option only if you have cash to pay for it, and anytime I’ve had to go it was in the $200-plus range for a simple visit. The local emergency rooms will be inundated with many more patients that have nowhere else to go, have left health problems to the last minute due to lack of money, and have no money to pay the cost, and this costs much more than an occasional doctor visit.

So, S.B., before we enter 2014 and the mandated insurance world that many of us cannot afford, get your more-well-off friends to help out the Neighborhood Clinics with a donation. That is a more important donation than any other charity right now, because they are needed more than ever now and in the future.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

It is ridiculous and more proof that Obama is the president the Republicans really love, it gives everything to the insurance companies. Obama is indeed Reagan and that is nothing to be proud of.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
June 12, 2013 at 11:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I am looking forward to Socialist Medicine. I am told (by defected Soviets) that Government managed health care is the very best that Peons (every working under $50K American peon) can get, be happy that they aren't treating illness with a bullet to the head, as they did in Sibeal.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
June 17, 2013 at 7:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dear Karen -

Those crazy tea party people and those nazi conservatives have been warning people like you (lib-dems) about obamacare for year after year.

Prices are up, service levels down and it's NOT the insurance companies that are going to get rich - it's the hospital systems. (insurance companies make an average profit of about 6%, similar to 100 year old rail road companies). Meanwhile, rules of obamacare will incentivize local clinics and private doctors to shut down and become employees of these hospital networks (it's going to cost too much to operate as a private physician with your own office).

So Karen, don't worry: just keep voting (like I am sure you already do) for lib-dem reps and senators who will expand government in the name of helping people, then create huge victim classes so that they can justify an ever expanding welfare-nanny state that powers their bureaucracies to "help" people in need and further deepen dependency and tell everyone it's not their fault - it's the fault of greedy uncaring conservative capitalists. Sickening. Pun intended.

willy88 (anonymous profile)
June 17, 2013 at 8:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I am not generally a supporter of more government intrusion. However, folks, the rest of the developed world - and even a number of so-called 2nd world countries - have figured out how to deliver healthcare to their population without bankrupting either their government or their citizens.
We pay more for less than any other country in the world. Even if you work for a large corporation that offers you good benefits, realize that the money your boss is paying to Blue Shield or Aetna is money he or she could be paying you.
For-profit hospitals, non-profit hospitals that are non-profits in name only, outrageous drug costs, doctors who have to pay a full time employee just to fill out insurance papers, and a life expectancy that is less than in other rich countries. This system is sick indeed!
We need single payer. Every adult needs to pay into the system according to his or her means, not based on age, but somewhere between 3% and 5% of gross income. Focus more on preventative care, and less on heroic measures.

blackpoodles (anonymous profile)
June 17, 2013 at 9:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Insurance companies "only" make about 6% profit? Is that profit calculated before or after the multi million bonuses for CEOs and other top executives are paid out?

Every adult needs to pay 3 to 5% into the system? Even young healthy people who most likely won't actually be using any services for the first 20 years? Why? So the hacks running the system can siphon all that money off as "bonuses" for creating excuses to deny older consumers the health care they've paid for?

As for "preventative" care, if by that you mean vaccines and xray diagnostics (mammograms, whole body scans etc.), that sort of "medicine" is part of the reason our collective health is so lousy in this country - good health is attained through good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, not medical quackery foisted on us by a for profit industry.

spiritwalker (anonymous profile)
June 17, 2013 at 10:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

willy88: Local liberals/dems - organizations including former Santa Barbara Gray Panthers, have advocated single-payer for over 40 years.

14noscams (anonymous profile)
June 18, 2013 at 1:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Best Buy/Amazon/etc. are run by execs that are paid huge salaries and bonuses but that doesn't stop their companies from offering a wide range of the best products at the lowest prices with transparent pricing. This is what is missing from the healthcare system today and single payer just moves the problem over to giant uncountable government bureaucracies whose #1 job is to grow. The EU is going bankrupt... and Japan is going nowhere - in large part to huge government debt driven by social welfare with socialized single payer medicine as the top driver.

The solution is simple:
1. Give everyone $10,000/year on a card that they can use to pay for insurance *premiums*.
2. Allow up to $2500 on the card to go unspent (if the cardholder chooses) which will motivate them to shop for the best policy at the lowest price.
3. Create a government rule that (a) requires full pricing transparency for services rendered and products charged and (b) build a government funded and run YELP for medical care to list, rank and rate doctors, hospitals and services.

1000% agree with Spritwalker on food/diet as best medicine BY FAR vs. pills and surgeries. Mandatory multi-year curriculum in grade and middle school on nutrition, diet and the topic of "food as medicine".

willy88 (anonymous profile)
June 18, 2013 at 8:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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