NY Times Article – The Rest of the Story

My picture was in the New York Times yesterday as part of an article outlining the real world effects of the healthcare bill that is currently up for debate in the House of Representatives; the bill may go up for a vote today, Thursday, May 4th.

Here’s the rest of the story that the Times didn’t report:

I was diagnosed with brain cancer in January, 2016. Our family had (and still has) insurance through the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.  My husband, Marshall, is a solo attorney – in other words, he owns and operates a small business – think mom and pop law firm. Small business owners like my husband receive no insurance premium subsidies the way that people who work for big companies do. Our family pays 100% of our health insurance premiums.  We pay almost $18,000 a year.  Other people whose companies subsidize their premiums might pay half of that – say $9,000 – because their companies chip in the other $9,000. The bottom line is that solo practitioners and small business owners pay more – not because the price of our actual health insurance is higher, but because we don’t receive subsidies at all. Zero.  Zilch. Nada.

Don’t misunderstand me – we are very happy with the quality of our health insurance.  Thank God that our policy was a good one under ACA when I was diagnosed.  If we’d had one of those “skinny plans” that the bill sponsors keep talking about, we would have been up the creek without a proverbial paddle.  No one ever thinks they are going to get cancer.  At 48 years old, I certainly didn’t.  But it happens. That’s what insurance is for.  To protect you when the unexpected happens.

My insurance has been great, covering a surgery that cost over $100,000.  I am quite pleased with the coverage, and immensely grateful to have had it at the time of my diagnosis.

So back to our family health insurance premium: $18,000 a year.  Even with my husband’s great salary as a lawyer, that is a huge percent of our yearly pre-tax income.  And it’s actually higher – $23,000 per year when you add in our maximum yearly out of pocket expenses, a number I hit every year with follow up treatment and monitoring.

The Health Care Amendment Will Bankrupt Small Businesses

The bill that is currently before Congress could easily bankrupt small businesses like my husband’s.  Putting people like me in underfunded “pre-existing condition pools” didn’t work before ACA, and it won’t work now.  Before ACA, those pools caused insurance premiums to go so high they were priced out of reach for many Americans, which caused them to have to go without insurance entirely.  We’re paying about as much as we possibly can now at $18,000 a year.  If my insurance price is hiked because I am put in a pre-existing condition pool, I simply won’t be able to afford insurance.  And please, don’t tell a person like me, who has cancer, that I can just get one of those “skinny plans” that doesn’t even cover a hospitalization. Reality check – I’m going to need hospitalization again at some point.  Insurance that doesn’t cover hospitalization isn’t insurance at all.

Tell me, if a lawyer like my husband who makes well above the median income can’t afford to buy insurance under this bill, then who can?  When my husband and I talk about this bill over the dinner table, he tells me he thinks it may be necessary to shut down his small firm and go to work for a big company or University because they would provide health insurance subsidies.

Tell me, Republicans who are considering voting for this bill – do you support small business?  You’ll be shuttering many of them if you pass this.  130 million of the 320 million people living in the U.S. have pre-existing conditions.  This is fully one-third of the country.  Assuming the same ratio for small business owners, you may be forcing one-third of the small businesses in our country to consider closing their doors forever.

As someone I know might say: “Sad.”

Small Businesses Pay the Whole Cost of Health Insurance While Members of Congress Get a 72% Subsidy?

Okay, here’s another point: according to Snopes, members of Congress are required by law to get their health insurance through an ACA exchange – the District of Columbia’s small business health options program (SHOP).  This is where DC small business get their health care insurance, too.  However, unlike small businesses, members of Congress receive a 72% subsidy from the Federal government for their health insurance premiums!  So, where my family pays the full $18,000 premium, members of Congress pay only pay $5040 for the same insurance!  Not only this, but Snopes reports that there is also an attending physician at the Capitol who provides members of Congress with routine care for a yearly (and presumably reasonable) fee.  And in the DC area, members of Congress can also receive care at military facilities.  The cost? Absolutely free.

What happens to members of Congress if ACA should be repealed?  Snopes says they can go back to getting their health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, which – you guessed it – the Federal government subsidizes.  Gee, I wish my family had that option.

If the Federal government can subsidize members of Congress by 72% and all Federal employees to some extent, why do some members of Congress insist on taking away my pre-existing condition coverage?  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, no? Republicans members of Congress say they don’t want a big federal government, but they sure are happy to take the 72% health care subsidy it offers them. That’s a hot cup of hypocrisy.

And no, I’m not asking for members of Congress to make the lame offer of reducing or eliminating their own subsidy, although in order to even begin to be credible they should be paying the same as what small business people have to pay.  But that’s not the point.

The point is that, as small business people, my husband and I don’t receive a single cent of government or company subsidy for our health insurance, yet members of Congress want to take away the most important thing we DO have: my pre-existing condition protection under ACA. Where do they even begin to believe that is “fair”?  How dare they attempt to put me in an underfunded insurance “pool” that will make my insurance skyrocket to the point that, on a lawyer’s income, I can’t even afford insurance at all?

I know what job my husband can try to get if he has to close down his law firm because of this bill:  Congressman.


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Amy Peck Murphy
Amy Peck Murphy
3 years ago

Great post! Couldn’t agree more. This deserves a wider audience, Fran; hope it will be given one…

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