The Reality of Health Care Cost

Brian Klepper

BK 711This beautifully written letter was forwarded after an interview with me on health care cost appeared in a Florida newspaper.

Many of us with coverage often think in abstract terms about working families that do not have access to employer-sponsored coverage, and that must shoulder the overwhelming burden of costs on their own. As Mrs. Doss describes, health care costs dominate her family’s economic life and drive many of their most important decisions.

But what is clear is that the current health care system places many working families into situations that are nearly impossible to manage well, unnecessarily robbing them and America of economic vitality and making the American dream far more difficult to achieve.It is debatable whether the answers provided by the Affordable Care Act are the right ones. It is also easy to suggest that she or Mr. Doss could have sought another job with employer-sponsored coverage.

Special thanks to Marni Jameson of the Orlando Sentinel for passing this along.

Thank you for your recent story about soaring health care costs for employers and employees.

My husband and I follow every story we hear about this subject with great interest, because the whole issue is so personal for us. Our lives and financial decision-making for our family of 5 are literally ruled by the cost of our health care.

My husband works for a small company that did not offer paid health insurance (or any other benefits) when he took his current position over 8 years ago. He took it anyway, because it was a good opportunity that fit his skills, and we had a growing family to support. We shopped around and signed up for our own health insurance. It was a little expensive, but the best we could do at the time. We figured we could always change plans eventually, or maybe his employer would start offering insurance eventually.

We could not have foreseen that the very next year, after giving birth to our 3rd child, I would be diagnosed with cancer. This gave me a pre-existing condition that would make it impossible to ever switch plans to lower our costs, unless I survived at least five years past the initial surgery and treatment. Well, I survived and made it to four yrs and then was re-diagnosed, having to go through treatment yet again and extending the pre-existing condition period.

In the meantime, our health care costs have soared. Our premiums have gone up every year, especially this last year, and we have to pay a $4,000 deductible every year before anything is covered. Our health care now costs us about $20,000 a year. This is almost one-third of my husband’s salary, which rarely fluctuates!

These costs don’t even include dental/vision expenses for a family of 5, which we also pay on our own. We have one child in orthodontia and the other two will need it. No one ever points this out when talking about health care costs. Even fewer people have coverage for these expenses. We just signed up for a discount dental plan, which will help a little.

All of these factors (and others) led to difficult decisions to move twice in less than six years, each time to a different state, looking for something a little better for our family and to save costs. We are now in a nice suburb, beautiful neighborhood and very safe, good schools, etc., but far away from friends and family in Maryland and PA. There was a mix of reasons why we chose Orlando, much of it tied to economic reasons, with the cost of health care being a big part of that. It has made everything very complicated.

For this reason, we are strong supporters of ObamaCare and really hope that it will get final approval, so that we can finally shop around for a more affordable healthcare plan. For people who don’t have ANY company-paid health insurance, the costs are really out-of-control!!

Melanie Doss, Winter Garden, FL

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