Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Stark Economic Reality of the "Affordable" Healthcare Act

Teachers' health insurance usually runs from September 1 to August 31 of the following year. Such is the nature of our contracts that we straddle the years economically. Teachers were the first to feel the surge of rising premiums back in 2011. I told the tale often, how the premiums were going up 15%, how the deductibles were rising, how the care was more limited. I was laughed at metaphorically. Online by the bloggers and tweeters and in real life by friends and families. "Oh you're just a teacher. You don't understand" was their dismissive comment.

Last Fall I issued another warning. Rates were rising again, another 15%. Deductibles rose from $2500 to $5000. And copays were eliminated forcing me to pay $135 out of pocket for even the briefest of office visits. There were simply times I was sick and could not afford to go to the doctor. Yet...I was insured! On top of that, strange pricing came into play. A prescription would be $35 one time, $5 the next. Generics and name brands played tagteam as the insurance formulary changed often day by day. A mammogram using my insurance would be $379 out of pocket, but without insurance would be $179. I couldn't even afford to schedule a long overdue colonoscopy.

Today I was in a meeting with the head of our HR department. The topic was next year's premiums. My district subsidizes $350 a month toward the cost. Even at that, this year my insurance premium was $491 a month. Starting in September, it will be $691 with a $10000 deductible. So unless I need to go to the hospital, why bother having insurance at all? My policy will never pay. On top of that Flexible Spending Accounts are limited by the Federal government to $2500, so I can't even shelter enough to cover my deductible. Health Savings Accounts are limited as well and come with all kinds of IRS warnings that would make it possible that just being prudent would mean an IRS audit.

Obama assured us he would "bend the cost curve". Pelosi told us we had to vote on the bill to see what was in it. It seems that three years later, the truth is coming out and it is not pretty. Costs are going up-and they're going up a great deal. I think the euphemism used by our HR department was "substantial". I know young teachers with kids who were literally in tears at the cost. Even with a pay step, I will make less take home pay next year than I did five years ago. We are teachers, we are middle class, we are supposedly the people Obama claimed to care about. But with rising costs to everything thanks to his energy policy and the higher cost of business overall both cost of living and employment are in peril. For all you folks that voted for this type of government, what the hell were you thinking? There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. There never was.

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