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Are conservative Christian theology and liberal politics compatible?
Saturday, 11 October 2008
My health coverage and the presumptions of asinine law
Mood:  irritated
Topic: idiosyncratic egotism

Within the last six weeks, there have been two changes in my employer-provided health coverage that, between them, have come close to convincing me that bankruptcy sometime next year may be unavoidable.  Both of them resulted from almost unspeakably stupid assumptions made by legisators enacting laws governing health care and health insurance regarding the amounts everyone who is not in officially-defined "poverty" OUGHT to be able to pay the health care industry.

The first change, which took effect September 1, was a $307 monthly increase in the family coverage portion of my group health insurance premium, the part that is deducted from my paycheck.  This increased our monthly premium from $600 to $907.  (I understand there was a proportionately similar increase in my individual premium, which my employer pays).  At the time of the premium increase, this premium paid for "high deductible" group health insurance with a health savings account (HSA)--the only kind that is tax-deductible to employers under the current stupid law--that doesn't pay a cent in claims until I have paid $4,000 for the year.  The present state of the health insurance industry--which is already nothing even close to a free market--are the cumulative result of laws that have sharply limited the pooling of risks in group helth insurance, such that, except where a multi-employer union contract is involved, only single-employer groups are permitted.  

The second change was announced to me this week.  Due to a recent change in the law--which I understand was either contained in the economic bailout package or related to it in some way--the deductible on my "high deductible" policy (again, the only kind my employer can provide and receive a tax benefit for it) is going to be increasing from $4,000 to $5,000 per year.  So, now my increasingly-expensive health insurance won't pay a cent until I've paid $5,000 for the year. Stated another way, the law presumes that, even though I'm now paying $3,684 more for my health insurance than I did last year, I will nevertheless be able to save $1,000 more to cover deductible charges.

The situation looks even stranger when I put the medical care numbers together with my annual income figures.

My gross salary is $50,000, but my net income, after taxes, is only about $38,000. 

My family coverage health insurance premiums now (assuming no more increases this year) come to $10,904 per year.  And the stupid law presumes I'll be able to save $5,000 on top of that for the benefit of the health care industry.  Thus, the law presumes I will be able to pay a total of $15,904 next year for health care.  THAT'S 42% OF MY NET, AFTER-TAX INCOME.

Thus, the law presumes I'll be able to give the health care industry 42% of my income, and pay my other obligations (first, of course) and live on the other 58%.  My only response to that is a quotation from one of Charles Dickens' characters:

"If the law presumes THAT, the law is an ass, an idiot."

Posted by ian_j_site2 at 12:45 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 October 2008 1:33 PM EDT

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