Peter MacDonald is a computer consultant who works as an independent contractor. Peter and his wife Kirsten have four children. They purchased health insurance on their own through the end of 2007. Here's Peter's story about why the family does not currently have coverage.
I had been buying my health insurance since May 2006. The monthly premiums then, were $650 a month for a 35 year old + Spouse and family. No prescription coverage and $25 copay. This seemed high but I could afford it. Then in December that year the premium was raised to $750 a month. Kirsten and I started paying real attention to how much we were using insurance. Over the next year we only had about 15 doctors visits between all 6 of us. In December 2007 my premium jumped to $890 a month. When I called Blue Cross Blue Shield about this I was told that there was a 20% premium increase because they were not offering the plan anymore. The reason for not offering the plan was due to the new Massachusetts Connector plan. That plan would have cost me $905 a month, the only difference was that now it included prescription coverage. At this point my wife and I decided to just put the monthly premium into a savings account just to cover health costs.
The other issue is that the insurance companies pay a different amount for the same services than what I pay for me or my family. They will say it is free market economy, well that is were they are wrong. That is where this system is messed up and the state is just helping it out, towards total collapse. I have a current example of this system at work.
Yesterday my son fell and cut open the bridge of his nose. My wife called and said that she had to go to the ER with him. She was questioned several time about the lack of insurance. They asked if she really wanted the Plastic surgeon to look at and seal the cut. They thought we could not afford the care. When the surgeon came in he told my wife that we could pay his office directly at the checkup in 10 days, $900, because the hospital would probably charge up to twice that. It will be interesting to see what the rest of the bill looks like. I will easily pay for this because I have been saving for such a situation. What would this cost me on insurance, oh $50 for an unauthorized ER visit and the $10,000 for my annual premiums. $900 for 1/2 hours work seems a little steep and the hospital may have charged me double for that same work.
My last point is this is really silly thing that we are doing in this state. While it is a noble idea, it is a bad idea because it goes against many of the founding principles of this country. Freedom of choice. What do I mean by this? This is worse than any tax ever because there is no way to not pay for the insurance. If I do not want to pay property taxes, I just rent. If I do not want to pay excise and fuel taxes I use public transportation. If I do not want to pay income tax I just get a job were I earn less money. I want the choice of whether or not I have insurance. As long as one does not burden society the they should be free to make those choices.
My wife and I are both of a similar mind that to many Americans have lost site of the simple things in life. They have to see a doctor for every little cough they have and have medicine every time they have a runny nose. Here in the United States of America we seem to have lost sight of the fact that we live and die, no matter what we do to intervene, and it is the quality of life that we are forgetting to live for.
Peter MacDonald, Brockton
This program aired on March 26, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.