Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Insurance Industry Blood Suckers

In Congress, the politicians are trying to decide what should be included in a healthcare package. One possibility is a public option. The argument against the public option is that it will cost too much money and that the insurance companies are better at controlling healthcare.

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and other GOP talking points pundits are quick at diverting attention to the real issues of insurance reform.

But the following article by Robin Marty proves that we shouldn't leave all of our eggs in the insurance industry basket. As a matter of fact, the for-profit insurance industry is the last place to go to lower costs for healthcare.
Having our first child was one of the greatest moments of my husband’s and my life together. Once we adjusted to being parents, we knew that at some point we would want to expand our family. When we found out 7 weeks ago that we were expecting again, we couldn't have been more excited.

The longer we have been parents, the more we have become planners, especially financially. I made a goal of paying off my student loans before our first was born, literally writing that last check two weeks before her due date. That payment quickly became a 529 account. We became frantic savers, opening online accounts, IRAs, anything we could sock our money into. When we decided to try for a second child, we made sure to first set aside the $3000 it would cost us out-of-pocket to pay for the birth, $1500 out-of-pocket max for me, and $1500 max for the new baby.

This weekend my husband broke the news to me -- his company would be switching to a new health insurance plan starting in January. As we looked through the brochures, it jumped out at me immediately that our out-of-pocket expenses were skyrocketing. Instead of the $3000 family out-of-pocket maximum we were preparing for, we were now expected to pay $6000 for the full family, a 100 percent increase.

We've yet to be given full information, such as if his monthly payments will be increasing as well (something I'm worried about, as the preliminary paperwork shows no sign of his company continuing to contribute monthly, instead offering a $1000 HSA account). Assuming that his payment per month is the same and the company is indeed offering $1000 on top of that, he will still be paying over 10% of his pre-tax income just to pay our family's health care costs. If they have pulled their monthly assistance, that could go up to as much as 20%.

We recognize that we are lucky people. With two incomes and no real debt, we should have no major difficulties saving the additional $3000 we might need for our new arrival in May. But we know that many people aren't in our situation. Having a child should be a joyous occasion, not a time that can potentially plummet a family deep into debt.

According to the new insurance company, your health care costs should never be much as long as you are making "healthy lifestyle choices." My question for the insurance industry is, when did wanting to add to your family become an unhealthy lifestyle choice?
I will put my money on the public option for lowering health care costs. Let's hope the politicians in Congress have the courage to come to the same conclusion!

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