Carol Perry: The health care bill and financial planning
For the Nevada Appeal
We are as a nation engaged in a debate about how to deliver and pay for health care in America.
When I started out as a financial planner many years ago, health care costs, including insurance premiums were not taking up a huge slice of a persons income. Only rarely would I hear of a medical bankruptcy. People were more concerning about saving for a home, children or a vacation. Planning was fun, clients were excited about setting goals and planning for a long happy life. Through different savings and investment plans, I was able to see many clients actually realize their goals. It was the best feeling for me, knowing I helped make a difference.
I am no longer in practice, having sold my business in 2008 due to illness. I was 51 years old and was not ready to retire. I was a planner that practiced what she preached. I saved money, did not misuse credit, I insured risks like disability or illness so that they would not derail my long-term planning.
I want to use myself as an example of how our health care system is currently working (or not working) and would like to hear from you, the readers about whether the current bill (H R 3200) will hurt or help people like me or you.
I will be writing about health care over the next several articles in hopes that I can demystify, debunk and clarify what is actually in this health care bill.
If you are like me, you are pretty confused by now. There is a House bill and a Senate bill. There is a Republican version and Democrat version. I have heard it called Obamacare, the Reid-Pelosi Bill, the Stupak Bill and now there is a push to rename the bill for the late Senator Ted Kennedy.
What is still in the bill? What has been taken out? How much will it cost? What will it do to the current Medicare system as the baby boomers enter their golden years? There has been so much hype, underhanded dealing, outright lying and other shenanigans surrounding this bill that it has become almost urban legend.
I don’t know about all of you, but I am very interested in what kind of changes we will see in the delivery and costs of health care in the future. Since I am using myself as the example, I currently pay $909 per month in health-dental premiums. This is up a whopping 270 percent since I took out the plan in 2004. I have a $1,000 deductible and many doctors that I see are “out of network.” My plan is a PPO (preferred provider) and it would seem that the doctors that I see “prefer” not to work with my insurance company.
That means that only 60 percent of my claims get covered after I meet the deductible. My insurance company considers many of the treatment protocols I am on to be “experimental” and they pay nothing. My gamma globulin alone is costing more than $40,000 per year and I must pay that myself.
To say the least, I have a “preexisting condition” and cannot get coverage from another carrier. If my current insurance company decides that I am just too much of an expense and drops my coverage (they can do that if they wish), I will be without medical insurance at any cost until I qualify for medicare. Very few insurance companies like doing business in Nevada. Can one of the insurance agents out there tell me why this is so?
Now you can see that I am the poster child for the need for health care reform and insurance company accountability to policy holders, but is the heath care reform bill currently before Congress going to hurt or help me?
There are a million opinions out there, but what I would like to do over the next few articles is just pull out the facts. I am a girl who prefers to take the emotion out and deal with just the unvarnished truth and logic in a situation. This bill is no exception. I am so confused at this point as to what is or is not going to happen if this bill passes that my head hurts.
I read the bill when it first came out and it was a whopper filled with legal language that I simply did not fully understand. Let’s try and break this bill down into plain talk and figure out if it is a good or bad thing for America.
People like me cannot wait much longer for reform. In another four years, if nothing changes, I will face medical bankruptcy and I truly believe that no responsible citizen who did the right things and has insurance should loose everything they have saved in order to pay their medical bills. Tell me your story and what you know (not opinion, but fact) about the bill that sits before Congress. This could be the biggest challenge we face in our lifetime. I say we do it right the first time. What say you, readers?
• Carol Perry has been a Northern Nevada resident since 1983. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her business columns appear the second and fourth Sundays of each month.