How the health bill could affect WalletPop writers
I joined the ranks of the uninsured last year when I entered the 55+ band and my small business group insurance rates jumped $500 per month to $1,200 per month with a $5,000 deductible. I could no longer justify the cost of that insurance. I would have to pay $19,400 out of pocket before getting one cent of coverage. I do carry a supplemental plan through AARP, but couldn't even qualify for individual health insurance through AARP's insurer with my pre-existing conditions.
I was in a small business group pool in Florida when I saw this outrageous price jump. Florida's small business pool does include anyone who files a Schedule C and runs a business, even if that business only has one employee. I'd gotten my insurance through this pool for three years prior to dropping it.
I started on the individual insurance hunt about five years ago after my COBRA ran out. I began writing as a freelancer and author in 2001, but initially was able to get my health insurance through my husband's employer until he was laid off. Then I got COBRA and tried to convert it to individual coverage, but it wasn't an option. My husband is a disabled vet and he gets his insurance through the Veterans Administration.
I didn't realize at the time I started my freelance business how hard it would be to get individual health insurance. I thought I was relatively healthy, but it turns out I have two things that knock me out of consideration for individual heath insurance - high blood pressure (which is under control with pills) and arthritis. Those two conditions probably can be found in about 50% or more of those above 50. Yet they are enough to knock people out of consideration for individual health insurance.
I've thought numerous times about giving up on my business and getting a job that includes health insurance, but with 25 books on the market I just can't get myself to give up on the dream business that i built over the past nine years.
When it comes to health insurance, I'm in serious limbo.
I graduated from Loyola University Chicago in December. I'm currently covered by my mother's insurance through June, but my father's insurance will drop me and leave me for the wolves by the end of March. I make paper by freelancing with The Los Angeles Times community papers, The Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader, and Aol.com's WalletPop blog. In addition, I work part time at Isolated Ground, a commercial set design company. I have small gigs that roll up, including working as a publicist for the young filmmaker and Emmy-award winning producer Francis Pollara.
None of my current posts allow me trips to the doctor because I am not a full-time employee. Am I concerned about my future? You bet.
By the time the health care bill passes I will have the option to choose my health care based on a freelance income. I've been fortunate enough that my parents' employers provided me with excellent health insurance all my life, but now it's different. My income isn't stable and each week I'm hunting for the next job. With the insurance exchange, I will choose a plan I can afford among the offered private insurance plans. I worry that I won't adore my plan and the rates will embarrass my bank account; However, I would rather be insured than uninsured. This bill comes at a trying time in my life. I'll take what I can receive, and if by June, I'm still a part-time employee, I'll cross my fingers and hope for the best.
I'm a freelance writer in middle age who pays for my own health insurance via Kaiser. My premiums go up by $50 every year it seems. And I'm sure that will only increase as I get older. My kids were both covered under California's Healthy Families program -- very well covered, I might add -- with dental and optical as well as medical. But I'm hearing that the Gubernator is going to have to cut that program because our state is bankrupt. So I just switched the kids onto their father's policy. He works for the Federal Government...but still has to pay extra to cover his dependents.
I pay around $300 a month for my insurance with a $1,500 deductible. There is a $30 co-pay with everything. I have gone periods with no coverage at all.
Obviously I support public option -- health care for all. It would mean a great deal of security for my entire family. I've seen the way health care is handled in England and Japan and it's scandalous what we Americans are putting up with.