Letter: Confusion reigns in regards to health care

From: Kermet Merl Key


I was in a recent meeting at work to discuss the changes to our health care plan. The changes would not affect me because I do not get my health insurance through my employer. In fact, my employer pays me $25 bi-weekly because I am not in their plan. That averages out to an additional 31 cents an hour (keep that in mind) for me.

The purpose of the meeting was to explain to workers why their health care costs were going up. The human resources representative seemed to try to soften the news by presenting a chart that showed that from 1999 to 2009 (prior to Obamacare), insurance costs increased more than 130 percent, but from 2009 to 2017 (since Obamacare) the rate of increase had slowed to around 36 percent.

Two things come to mind as a result of that meeting and recent proposals by the Republicans in Washington: what will happen to premiums if the individual mandate is repealed, and what would happen if we simply expanded Medicaid for all?

Let me take that second part first. As a low-level, “on-the-floor” worker who drives a lift to earn a wage, I know that many of my co-workers do not realize that they are the ones paying for their insurance and not the company. I know this for two reasons: They tell me they don’t pay for it, and they believe the company does. Then I show them my pay stub.

“Why would the company pay me an additional $.31 an hour for not taking their insurance plan?” I ask them. Then I explain that if Medicaid was expanded to all citizens and our employer dropped us, then those who already pay into Medicaid would have basic coverage (no need for mandates), and with that additional $650 ($25 x 26 paychecks) a year they could purchase Medicaid supplemental coverage if they wished.

As for what would happen to costs if the individual mandate were repealed? I simply point to the portion of the graph from 1999 to 2009.