Health Insurance Reform

I am trying to understand the issue of Health Insurance Reform, but all the stories seem to be about people shouting. Are news outlets reporting on the price of health insurance?   How much does health insurance cost you?   By comparing the average price of health insurance to the average income of Duluthians, we will know if there is a problem or not.

43 Comments

Tim K

about 11 years ago

My wife's insurance, which covers a family of four, runs $616.24 per month. Half of that premium is paid by the employer. The deductible is $500 per family member per year. They are starting a new plan this fall and I haven't seen the details as of yet, but I'm going to assume the premium is higher and the employer is probably reducing their contribution (as a percentage).

Amy Swanoski

about 11 years ago

I don't get health insurance.  If I could afford it, it would cost me somewhere around 600/month.  I'm hoping to be approved for health care through the state of Wisconsin, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Danny G

about 11 years ago

Health care, or health insurance?  There's a real difference there.  I personally think the greying of that difference is a big source of what is causing this entire problem.

heysme

about 11 years ago

I agree with you Jamie - lots of shouting and statements of promise.
I would bet that our President's website would have information regarding what is being proposed.
From what little I understand I have formed my own ignorant opinion that it will not be the saving grace but a government plan that will help those whom have no insurance or are under-insured - a public insurance to add competition to the private companies.  
Just received word that our small business carrier is ending our loving relationship at the end of 2009 so we will be shopping for a new carrier.

tamara

about 11 years ago

I have employer-paid health insurance. My employer pays family coverage at $1000/month.

I make approximately $48,000 a year.

Here's something that might help you:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/

wildgoose

about 11 years ago

I work in health care and get coverage (mostly paid) for me, I think they pay like $500 a month for that.  My girls are not covered but they qualify for a state program.  My wife and son are trying to get coverage through the state of MN "Minnesota care" and hopefully they will both be eligible.  If not, my insurance will go up to perhaps $800 to a thousand a month, maybe more with deductibles, medication and all.  

After seeing Tamara's report I'm kinda wishing I worked for a union!  Or union job, as i have done in the past, the health care, insurance, vision, dental they usually have is great stuff.  

--

A healthcare worker aside, I was waiting to talk to billing at a certain medical facility ... oh heck, I'll name it, St. Mary's.  Anyway the billing clerk or whatever her title is carelessly, carelessly, carelessly left her door open so my wife and I could not help but eavesdrop on the conversation.  Turns out the patient was also an EMPLOYEE of the institution, and she was crying and complaining of how she wasn't getting enough hours to pay her medical bills, terrible sob story.  Isn't that embarrassing?  A hospital/clinic/parking-real estate mogul THAT big, can't even insure that their own workers can pay for health care.  I'm not (exactly) blaming them, I am just saying this is a terribly messed up system.

-- 

Another aside is that I think of how German, British, Japanese, Canadians, (even the Chinese and other less developed countries) compete with American companies for our business and jobs.  But it's a tough competition, in part, because Americans don't have a universal health care plan for citizens, which affects benefit costs on the balance sheet, and it affects the quality of life and productivity of workers on the morality sheet.  (not that businesses have a morality sheet or not, but if they did, health care would be on it.)

Todd Gremmels

about 11 years ago

The IRS has guidelines set up in 2001 to collect taxes at 33.33 percent from gross incomes ranging from, let's say, $12,000 a year to $80,000 a year.

Now this is where it gets tricky: For those making more than $80,000, Social Security payments remain the same and IRS payments start to move backward. Now here is the kicker: Anyone who makes more than $105,000 pays less than 5 percent in taxes. Let's just say for argument this wealth is pushed off shore to Belize or China. In time, the person making $105,000 spends less and less in this country and contributes to economic collapse.

Now let's say someone's company owns townhomes and that someone has a cheap house somewhere where the mail is sent, a house he or she doesn't live in but on which taxes are paid. Let's also say the company owns a house in Aspen and/or Aruba where the person actually lives. Take all that money that is being depreciated and amortized through taxes and you have a supercharger for economic collapse. That's because there's little or no tax base from company-owned townhomes for federal coffers, thanks to the Republican-controlled Senate and House and thanks to the Bush presidencies and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

I say raise the taxes of the people making more than $105,000 and reduce the taxes of the $12,000- to $80,000-a-year wage earners, the people who actually spend money in the U.S. Then eliminate the cap on Social Security. 

According to U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, not only would that leave money for Medicare, it would be able to pay for a large majority of health care in the U.S.

The revised trickle-down economics (remember Reaganomics?) bill runs out in a few months. Thank God. Why can't we remember history? 

Todd Gremmels

Duluth

PS All areas in our social system that make vasts amounts of money need to be monitored by the government and insurance companys need to move aside.

E.

about 11 years ago

Perhaps we don't have a clear picture of the current proposals because, for example, in yesterdays illustrious News Tribune, "Woman attacked by Otter" was a front page headline, while Obama's meeting to explain the current health care legislation was glossed over on page A9.

Sad.

edgeways

about 11 years ago

I, personally, have decent insurance right now. It's renegotiation time this fall and who the heck knows what will come out of it. And, it is only insurance that covers myself, if I tried to have my spouse covered it would cast about $700 a month, I make ~32K. 

Danny's overall point about there being a difference between health care and health insurance is a decent point. However, health insurance is primarily how we get health care in this country (that or just showing up to the ER with no actual way to pay for it). And to change that to something like say, single payer, which the president has said he thinks is a good option, would make the current level o vitriol look like a walk in the park. 
 I am a Canadian by birth, and while I'll be the first to say their system has some flaws, it is heads and shoulders above what we have here, and even what we'll have here even if the best option makes it all the way through the debates. Americans fearing and bitching about the Canadian system is foolish. Especially since we will not end up with anything like it in the foreseeable future.

edgeways

about 11 years ago

and..

ATTACK OTTERS OMFG

Resolutionary

about 11 years ago

No, health care is not affordable for the average Duluthian. The situation is untenable.

Health care spending in the United States is 15.3% of GDP.  That is double the average in other developed countries. According to the World Health Organization we rank last in quality of health care among developed countries. In 2007 costs were $7,026 per person. Costs are projected to grow, if we do not reform health care, by 6.7% each year.  Health care costs are responsible for over 50% of bankruptcies in the United States. 68% of those who file for bankruptcy because of health care costs have health insurance.

Health insurance companies meanwhile are extremely profitable and give their executives millions in bonuses. 

The industry gave massive campaign donations to nearly every member of congress and President Obama.  I get the impression that our politicians are more interested in preserving graft in the system than really helping people.  For example, in 2005 a prescription drug benefit was added to Medicare that specifically didn't allow the government to negotiate with the drug companies for pharmaceuticals.  President Obama stated in his campaign that taxpayers are out $371 billion from this compromise with industry.  The NY Times reported President Obama backed away under pressure recently from an agreement with PhRMA that put an $80 billion cap on what PhRMA would contribute to reform.  Other provisions of the deal: we would forget negotiating for Medicare and the industry would spend $150 million on a campaign in SUPPORT of health reform.

We must reform health care.  Please join me in holding our Reps and Senators to task to support health care reform that benefits citizens. Despite the rampant misinformation and delusional screamers, this is probably the best chance we will get to fix a corrupt system. 

After all, until everyone has access to health care, we're just another poor country.

Amy

about 11 years ago

I guess I've been using the terms health care and health insurance interchangably without knowing the difference between the two...?

dbb

about 11 years ago

I just re-read the Constitution. Funny, but it doesn't mention healthcare/health insurance. How is it that this is even a topic about which the federal government is worrying itself? I'm far more concerned about the erosion of our civil rights than I am about this.

Todd Gremmels

about 11 years ago

Resolutionary - Medicare coverage is more expensive in Minnesota that most states and less of it gets to the people that need it. Why is that? I would say that it is because of our great industry Blue Cross Blue Shield (in one word lobbiests).

That is again Resolutionary a great additon to your point about corruption and when executives in health care stop makeing such huge salarys I think we can all breath alot more healthy.

Another point is accountability. I mean that if somebody has less healthy habits they should pay more (cigarette smokers as an example)

Peace
Todd Gremmels

Danny G

about 11 years ago

Blue Cross Blue Shield is a union company.  Just sayin'

zra

about 11 years ago

@ dbb...

your civil rights were being eroded long before Obama took office.

just sayin.

Danny G

about 11 years ago

So then it's ok, huh?


Just sayin'.

zra

about 11 years ago

@dbb, p.s., you're referring to a document that was written well over 200 years ago, long before the current concept of health care/insurance existed, therefore the founding fathers would never, nor could never have known to include any provisions for such.

Why is this a topic of discussion? As de facto employees of the citizens of this country, the government's role is to provide for the security and welfare of the citizenry within its borders.

Amy

about 11 years ago

I'm guessing this health insurance is not a constitutional right bologna is comming from someone with health insurance?

jamie

about 11 years ago

In 2008, the average premium for a family health insurance plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job.

tamara

about 11 years ago

I'd just like to point out that the majority of the union members I represent have the same health insurance I have, with the majority of those covered under our plan enjoying the same employer contribution that I have, which is to say that around 60% of our total membership has health insurance through our Taft-Hartley plan with the monthly premium paid for by the employer at all levels of coverage: single, single-plus-one, and family. 

This is a negotiated benefit. Our members work in jobs that don't typically have high wages, but they work in jobs that would have a severe impact upon *your* daily lives were they not there. Keeping them healthy and their families healthy is one of our greatest priorities when we sit down to the table. 

Additionally, I'd just like to point out that the Declaration of Independence, which is an even older document that the Constitution, states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

An unalienable right is Life. An unalienable right is the pursuit of Happiness. Giving health care to all citizens is an unalienable right, because it encourages life, which makes people happy. All unalienable rights...

doubledutch

about 11 years ago

health insurance for my family is just under $1000 per month.  my employer pays 80% and i pay 20%.

amy, i'm not sure if anyone answered your question about the difference between the terms "health insurance" and "health care".  obviously you know what insurance is, and you know what care is.  i think where the interchangeability comes in, is that some people believe everyone needs insurance, and some people believe everyone needs access to care.  for someone who is broke, having insurance doesn't mean you have access to care.  you may still avoid going to the doctor because you don't have $25 for a copay.  you may still have to decide between a $40 prescription copay and gas/groceries.  an accident, serious illness, or a pregnancy can break the bank when you have to meet your deductable and then pay 20% of addition costs until you reach your thousands-of-dollars out-of-pocket maximum.

jester

about 11 years ago

Doubledutch hit the problem on the head, which is why the federal government has reason for concern and taking on this issue despite it not being spelled out in the Constitution- the quickly rising costs each year are potentially devastating, economically. It was recently reported that 60% of bankruptcies are due to unpayable medical bills. 

While the Constitution provides us with a brilliant framework for governance, it can't possibly account for natural changes in society. This nation went thru a huge population growth as well as the industrial revolution which changed the game forever. Even the original Libertarian himself, Thomas Jefferson, knew that a limited government best served a limited, agrarian population.

lojasmo

about 11 years ago

Article one, section eight of the US constitution.

huitz

about 11 years ago

I never get the grammatical use of "an uniform".  IMHO, this is most definitely not good english :)

Health reform has several benefits that people are not aware of.  You can help a person with weird predilections/genetics that might be the next Einstein.  So you get 1 out of 1000 people that can truly move mountains.  I think it's worth it.

I'm a little concerned that the Duluth populace is starting to have a "I have it, and you can't, because you aren't worth it."

Every sociological group has this type of attitude hiding around, but, it's obviously an acute and obscured viewpoint.

The Big E

about 11 years ago

It's not simply a question of what health care costs individuals (in terms of money or health)--it's a question of our so-called health care system's negative effects across the entire economy--it's obvious there's a problem.

edgeways

about 11 years ago

Lord, the "It's not in the Constitution" is such a tired argument. The federal government is well within it's prerogative to establish health care/health care insurance, and make it affordable to everyone. It can be done and it would improve the general welfare of the country tremendously. 

It certainly is not UN-Constitutional, and there is a decent argument that it allows for it 

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States"

You know what isn't in the Constitution? A whole heck of  lot, but here are some gems to chew on: The air force certainly isn't mentioned(land and sea forces are), heck MARRIAGE isn't mentioned either, neither is the right to privacy, nor does it explicitly guarantee the right to vote, education nope, capitalism nada... Oh hey, immigration is not addressed in the Constitution, so why isn't immigration control a State's right hmm?

And one final kicker... The word democracy.

So, take the "it isn't in the Constitution" and shove it.

tamara

about 11 years ago

Huitz,

That drives me nuts too. We're always told that you use "an" if the word following starts with a vowel. But it looks so weird when you use a "u" word... and I don't know why! Grammarians, any input?

oldknifey

about 11 years ago

It's because the u makes the sound of a consonant, which, in this case is a "y" sound. Now, I realize that y is sometimes a vowel, but in the case of the word uniform, the u is mimicking the "y" as a consonant. Did that make any sense?

oldknifey

about 11 years ago

Oh, which means that an should not be used in front of uniform. It should be "a uniform."

huitz

about 11 years ago

It cracks me up.  You can see the "an" in texts before words that start with a silent "h" too, which is a consonant.

Anywho, I tend to pronounce "a" as "uh" (like I'm getting poked with a stick), but on rare occasions do a north-midwestern/canadian, "ay".

I have been known to use an "uh" in front of words that have a vowel front bumper.  In fact, I think I use "uh" for pretty much everything, and it's up to the listener to figure out it's purpose.  In Japanese, I think it's something like "ano".

zra

about 11 years ago

consider this:
part of the reason why we're seeing thousands of jobs in the U.S. being outsourced to India, China, etc...is the cost of having them made here.
roughly 1/3 or more of the cost of goods and services in this country (i'll need verification on the actual figures...edge...anyone?) goes to paying for the health care of the people who produce them...in some cases, such as for example a car...the percentage could be a lot higher...

the current expectation of a lot of those who're opposed to health care reform is that the government (ergo, the taxpayers) is going to be saddled with the current cost of health care, when in fact, the reform plan provides for substantially bringing down the cost of care by limiting a lot of the cost that insurance companies, et al, collect. Bring down the cost (which we can all agree have become quite outrageous)...bring down the cost of health care, the cost of goods and services conversely come down as well...the end result is that eventually jobs could return to the U.S., instead of China and other countries (where they have more comprehensive and less expensive health care)...

then there is the reality that most people overlook...the VA and Medicare...are BOTH government run health care systems, as is the care that our elected officials receive.

it is logical, therefore, to conclude that the fault of the cost of production here in the U.S. can be attributed largely to the insurance and health care industry...

my bosses have to shop around for health care plans every single year because the cost of health plans here continue to increase by double digit percentages every single year. In six years, we have gone from plans that call for no deductible, to 1,000 dollars to 1,400 dollar deductibles, because the company simply cannot keep pace with the increase in costs and still be able to give its employees increases in pay and profit sharing.

jamie

about 11 years ago

Health insurance for a family costs $1,000 a month on average, which is about a month's pay at minimum wage.

huitz

about 11 years ago

Actually, there's part of me that believes the system starts being expensive elsewhere.  Yes, doctors receive pay that seems "out there", but that's not the issue.  I suspect that the real cost comes from medication, which in turn rolls from pharmaceuticals.

I'll go out on a limb and say the true cost of health care/insurance arises from drug corps.

It's one of the few industries where you don't always get what you pay for.  How can you?

Don't even get me started on the recent revitalization of the new drug sexual social movement.  What's up with that?  Let's see.  We buy drugs to enhance sexual performance, but don't care about people dying due to lack of intensive care?  How f'd up are we?

I suppose you could argue that sexual performance "helps" people, so you got me there.  But, just sayin.

O.G.Duluthian

about 11 years ago

I will buy into how great the government's involvement in our healthcare is when all the senators, congressman, and all other elected officials agree to sign on for the new ObamaCare. Federal, State, and Local government employees (AFSME) should lead by example and be the first to utilize the new reformed health care program. That would be Change to believe in.

Resolutionary

about 11 years ago

O.G.Duluthian,

With all this talk of a government takeover of medicine, the evils of socialized medicine I haven't heard any conservatives talk about repealing Medicare.

For the record, Medicare is socialized health insurance.  It is run by the federal government; we pay for it with the payroll taxes deducted from our checks each week.  It is also extremely popular.  When Medicare was enacted by a liberal president in 1965 conservatives strongly opposed it, and the health care industry scared people to yell the same things they're yelling now. 

But Medicare passed and people like it. If a politician were to suggest cutting Medicare, their political career would be done.  Yet conservative thinkers still shiver about their defeats of failing to kill Medicare (and Social Security before that).

So with Orwellian irony Faux News, Rush, and the Caribou Barbie tell their audiences that socialized health care insurance means cutting Medicare. To quote Johnny Cash, "The one on the right is on the left."

If government run socialized health care insurance is good enough for our senators, veterans, grandparents, why is not good enough for me?  Why do Republicans tout the evils of socialized medicine, while vowing to defend and never cut the socialized medicine for the people who have it? Are they disingenuous?

Please also keep in mind 14,000 Americans per day lose their private health insurance as policies are rescinded, they lose their jobs, and employers drop the too expensive coverage. 

Please O.G.Duluthian! I doubt you believe your own talking points.

Tim K

about 11 years ago

Here's the new solution:  Let Americans between the ages of 18 and 65 BUY Medicare coverage. If you are disabled or over 65, you already qualify. Add 0-18 in the group covered by Medicare withholding. Then allow the rest of us to buy in to Medicare if we want. Make it the public option. If you still want to pour your own hard earned bucks into private plans, who's stopping you. In addition, tweak the numbers for Medicaid so that those who lost their job or whose income qualifies could maintain coverage. Everybody likes Medicare, so why not just expand on that?

O.G.Duluthian

about 11 years ago

Resolutionary,

You missed my point. It seems that all the people talking up how great of a program ObamaCare would be are the same people that will never have to enroll in the same program that they are rallying for. My comment has nothing to do with the merits of Medicare. I have no problem with healthcare reform, but I strongly feel that the people that are pushing it through the legislative process, should also have to live and die by it.

jamie

about 11 years ago

I agree with the comment above, I have no problem with reform either. Lets try to agree as much as possible. I believe that everyone who has to work a day in their life is on the same team on this issue.

I don't have a problem with businesses making lots of money either- more power to them. This is America.  I sure as hell don't have a problem with any individual people in the insurance or medical fields making lots of money.  More power to you.

That being said, $1,000 a month for a family's health insurance is not affordable for most Duluthians, and you know it.  Something needs to be done to stop the steady 20% annual price increases, or we will all eventually go bankrupt.

Even the most ardent free market ideologue would agree with that.

edgeways

about 11 years ago

First of all, there is no such thing as "ObamaCare". All the current pieces of legislation have originated directly from Congress, but I guess that's harder to distill into a scary sounding soundbite. 

As to the politicians should live by what they vote for, yeah you know, good idea... only that means adding a whole heck of a lot onto the current bills. I'd be peachy keen to see a Universal Single Payer health care system. But, that aint happening here in the land-of-the-free-to-go-without-insurance. So, we have something that seeks to minimize cost increases, provide assistance to those unable to pay for it, let you keep your current insurance if you like it, not allow insurance companies to drop you for pre-existing conditions, or when you get sick and Oh, to provide competition how about a public option which ensures a safety valve if things get too out of whack with the private insures. 

So, in a way, everyone who already has insurance, yes that includes government workers too, will be affected by what is proposed... everyone gets it. 

There CAN be legitimate arguments against these bills, but it is neigh impossible to sort them out when such utter shit is being spewed opposing it. 

Here, want to know a conservative proposal I think sounds good? Write federal standards for insurance cmpanies. Right now insurance is dealt with on a State by State bases, each State has it's own independent laws and regulations. This makes it very inefficient, and provides any amount of loopholes and. This is a good idea, suggested by David Frumm (ugh). Unfortunately, it is usually coupled with such drivel as reducing taxes on capitol gains (read: the wealthy), absence of a Public Option etc... But, the point is, if they would shut their whining traps and engage honestly, conservatives could bring good ideas to the table. Yet, they are not. Some, openly want to replicate Gingrich's defeat of heath care as a spring board for mid-term gains. Mitch McConnell, admitted he hasn't read the proposal, yet he is against it. Grassley railed on and on about "death panels", yet he proposed something very similar to what he was bitching about, two years ago and has now turned around and blamed liberals for spreading the idea of "death panels". This makes their bargaining  position suspect, and shows tremendous lack of good faith. 

We need a baseline of care, something that alleviates the daily catastrophe of medical bankruptcy, the utilization of ER rooms for primary care, something that ensures health care is affordable and we don't continue to shut out all those people who need it. Heath care is a libertarian's nightmare. It is something that affects all of us. An untreated case of flu because of lack of money can cause a chain reaction of sickness... and death. Health care is a common good. Anytime you incintivize common good by profit alone you set up a system of exclusion.

Bruce G

about 11 years ago

I have single coverage and I pay $575.00 per month with no copays.  Last December, it was late at night I was suffering from a sore throat and went to the ER - I was there 3 1/2 minutes and it cost me $599.00.  What did pay for, a doctor to look into my throat and say "Yep you need a med."

Meds were $14.00, visit was $599.00.  NUTS~

huitz

about 11 years ago

ChemE's are creepy and silent.  They design your drugs.  They sit in hollowed out closets and cut themselves (figuratively), which is much different than EE's, who stay up late at nights trying to figure out things that only a superhuman could do and they come to realize they cannnot, and the ME's who just like to sit back and watch everyone else freak out.  The ArchE's just have absolutely no clue at all what the heck physics (or chemistry, or reality, for that matter) is.

Okay, I'm being a bit harsh.  These very broad stereotypes have little merit; that is, unless you've seen it.  ChemE's do some good stuff, though, but almost always lies below their pay grade.

So, what's your point, huitz?  I didn't have one.  Just bitching on the old dorm life, and the dusty old souls in young bodies that creep behind closed and locked doors and refuse to interact in normal social arenas that hold in their hands the "evidence" to prescribe you something.

huitz

about 11 years ago

I just reread my post and may have left some stuff out.  For those that don't know what a double E is, or ChemE, the terms all refer to engineering pursuits in education.

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