The Biggest Hole in My Pocket

Like many of you, my personal health insurance is going up in November by a factor of over twenty-five percent. I’m caught in the aging baby boomer dilemma of needing to keep myself covered, because at my age, I’m just a walking pre-existing condition.  But I have to wonder how long I can continue paying almost half of my income for health insurance.  And all the while, a hell of a lot of the remaining half needs to be dedicated in reserve for taxes, including taxes that are health care related.

I’ve been thinking lately that while most people say they are “worth more dead than alive” as a joke, for me, it’s rapidly becoming a reality. I wonder if I’m not better off just dropping my health insurance now and facing the future without it.  I mean, why pay another year of half my income when the health insurance companies tell us it’s going to get worse, not better, before I reach Medicare age?  If I’m going to be forced, because of cost, to drop it next year, is it really worth it to continue it this year?  I could maybe hold on and hold my nose and write the obscene checks for another year if I thought health care reform was going to help people like me.  But it doesn’t sound like anything being considered on Capital Hill is going to help self-insured people like me, and even if it did, it won’t take effect for another four years.  And now they’re talking about mandatory insurance? Does anyone up there realize that’s like a mandated tax of at least fifty percent of my income? Does anyone care?

And for people who currently get their health care from the government, all the while complaining that it’s such a bad deal it makes you want to save the rest of us from those eeeevil benefits, I have a suggestion. You could always opt out of those bad ol’ socialist government provided health care services. I read over the weekend about a website called  Yep. You too could be free of government assistance in obtaining health care. Just go to and unburden yourselves.  No, it’s not a joke. If you are REALLY against government health care, go to and join the rest of us privately insured folk.  You too could strike a blow against creeping socialism! Oh, and as they say on the internet “sarcasm off”.

I hear rumblings locally that there may be a sales tax proposed to support our local health care institutions.  This would be on top of the local economic development sales tax, a chunk of which is also going toward physician recruitment. And the city also has its own sales tax that was implemented over twenty years ago. Property tax time is also right around the corner, and it might cause some of you to think about how much of your local tax dollars are going to support the hospital, the nursing homes, physician recruitment, the newly built medical clinic, etc.  And it seems that as a community, providing ambulance services in an affordable manner is still eluding us.

We always think that schools and hospitals and such are what keep us a viable community. I can’t disagree with that much.  We’re not much of a town without medical services or schools. But given our continually declining population, ya gotta wonder how long we as a community can continue to support first class facilities with fewer and fewer human taxpayers to foot the bill.  I guess I’m getting old and cranky, because I’m wondering where it will all end. By the time I pay my private health insurance, and the public taxes for health care, and the property taxes that go to support bond issues… well, I’m hoping my dog is willing to share the dog food.  Because even I’m not willing to fight the cats for theirs!

And people wonder why young folks here leave for greener pastures and better jobs with good benefits?   It’s a downward spiral. Declining population means fewer taxpayers and fewer customers for local businesses. That makes it less likely local businesses will offer health insurance to their employees. And those outrageous premiums mean the people who do remain here will have fewer dollars to spend with local businesses or to pay the ever increasing tax burden that is being split among fewer and fewer people.

It’s a problem without an apparent solution and it’s why sooner or later, the only people who will be able to afford to live here will be those with Social Security and Medicare or Medicaid. And that’s not good for local health care institutions either.  Medicare and Medicaid reimburse our hospital and doctors at a rate even lower than private health insurance. Which fewer and fewer people can afford.  The downward spiral accelerates for health care at an even more rapid rate than in other arenas.  If you have a solution for these problems, I’d like to hear them.  Because whether we want to face it or not, the end game for many of our community institutions is near.

But, instead of complaining about the biggest hole in my pocket, I guess I should look on the bright side. Thank goodness we are STILL safe from “socialized medicine”.

Sarcasm off.



Filed under Healthcare, Kansas, Original writings

38 responses to “The Biggest Hole in My Pocket

  1. prairiepond

    Believe it or not, this is a shortened version of last week’s column. I’m still working on the “war and peace” thingy.

  2. For many people it’s going to be an exercise in math — ok, last year my total health-care costs were, and my insurance premiums are… So, if I save those premiums and put that money toward the costs (basing this on last year when I was lucky enough not to face a health-care emergency like an accident or hospitalization)…

    Yeah, one major illness away from bankruptcy, and that’s for the responsible people who have always been productive, tax-paying citizens.

    The proposed maximum out-of-pocket expenses will come into play if they are included in the final bill that becomes law. Down the road after they get it all implemented.

    Makes people who value people sick to their stomach to think about it. But there seem to be many who only value money and refuse to see anything beyond, “I’ve got mine!” Makes me hang my head in shame that they call themselves human and have such little regard for their species.

  3. prairiepond

    Some hoomans just aint hoooman? 🙂

  4. You bring up an excellent point when you speak about the hospitals and clinics and such in the low population areas. If those don’t exist then people without adequate insurance get NO CARE. There is no place to show up and get even the emergency care (which is far far different than actual health care).

    In the urban areas a person can get the band-aid that keeps them from dying on the spot at the emergency room. Of course, the emergency room applies that band-aid as required by law and turns them out to die anyway.

  5. lilacluvr

    From the standpoint of economics – I just don’t see why people are fighting health care reform.

    For those uninsured, when they get sick to do go to the Emergency Rooms and get the most expensive care. These people are not paying their bills – because most of them are either unemployed or under-employed and have no money to pay their bills.

    So, as a result, the rest of us are paying higher premiums for our health insurance.

    And then we have Medicaid and Medicare, which taxpayers subsidize.

    So, exactly why are people fighting health care reform – because they don’t want to have to pay for someone else’s health care?

    It seems like taxpayers are doing that exact thing right now .

  6. prairiepond

    “So, exactly why are people fighting health care reform”

    I’d say it’s because the cons relentlessly fear that someone, somewhere, is getting something they (cons) dont think they deserve.

    DFH dont deserve healthcare without going broke, dontchya know?

  7. prairiepond

    Oh, and neither do dark skinned people, or faggots or single mothers and their spawn.

    Have I missed anyone?

    • I thought they were all about ‘individual responsibility,’ so wouldn’t we need to include all of society? Ya know, with them it’s not a group thing, it’s a me, I got mine thing. And, of course they are the judge of who is and isn’t worthy, and crusade to make sure those they deem unworthy don’t get what they certainly don’t deserve!

  8. Don’t miss this editorial from this morning’s Eagle. It is written by Dr. Robyn Liu, who is a physician in western Kansas. Concise, informative, compassionate, and just plain ole well written! A big hug goes out to her and all others doing the real work!

    • wicked

      If you don’t want your blood pressure to rise, don’t read the comments left by the undead at your link.

      It’s good to see a doctor who cares. I got the impression on my last visit to my doctor that he’s in it for the money now. I’ve heard rumors that the daughter of someone in my HS class is wanting to buy him out. I hope she has a little more heart and empathy for others than he does.

  9. David B

    Been working on the house all day. Pressure washer to strip flaking paint – will primer trim this week – added 11 rolls of R30 insulation to the attic..


  10. David B

    More Poetry, Please

    Published: October 31, 2009

    More and more lately, I find people asking me: What do you think President Obama really believes about this or that issue? I find that odd. How is it that a president who has taken on so many big issues, with very specific policies — and has even been awarded a Nobel Prize for all the hopes he has kindled — still has so many people asking what he really believes?

    I don’t think that President Obama has a communications problem, per se. He has given many speeches and interviews broadly explaining his policies and justifying their necessity. Rather, he has a “narrative” problem.

  11. wicked

    Excellent column, PrairiePond. The shame of it is that there are millions of people having the same experience. And when I think of how much of that money being paid to insurance companies via monthly premiums is going into the pockets of our legislators, it makes me sick. Obviously not sick enough to go to the doctor. 😉

  12. This is the way our system works best! I am glad to see the Republican Party finally accepting their part of the responsibility of governing! Makes so much better sense than simply obstructing and yelling “NO” at every opportunity.


    GOP Set to Propose Its Own Health Bill

    WASHINGTON — Republicans are preparing an alternative health-care bill to Democratic legislation, House Republican Leader John Boehner said, marking a shift in strategy as the full House is set to begin debate on the issue this week.

    …continue reading at The Wall Street Journal

  13. Here is how the Republican Party does their work. Always know what’s going on in the other camp, it helps when you make your plans.

  14. And, if you haven’t had enough, there is a Part 2!

  15. Do you giggle a little or a lot when the very people who are responsible for how government works tell you how poorly government works?

    (laugh to keep from crying)

  16. prairiepond

    Thanks Wicked. That’s why I write what I write. I dont particularly like “poor mouthing” as they say in the south, but I figure that a lot of folks like me, hanging on to middle class with our fingernails, are in the same bind.

    I wasnt expecting much feedback on this column, but I’ve gotten several emails from folks my age.

    Medicare for all over 50!

  17. prairiepond

    Yessssss! I too agree with that.

    See, even I’m so resigned to accepting half a loaf that I forget we can ask, er, DEMAND the whole freakin’ thing!


    hee heee heeeeeee.

    I’m practicing my Oliver voice!

  18. prairiepond

    Did anyone else see at DU today that there’s going to be a last ditch effort to get Kucinich’s single payer plan into the bill?

    Gotta love St. Dennis, the patron saint of truth.

    And lost causes…

  19. I have great confidence that whatever Congress comes up with will benefit the fewest people and in the smallest ways, while boosting the profit potential for insurance companies.

  20. prairiepond

    Gotta agree with you on that, Fnord. I read yesterday that as the “robust” public option stands now, only 2 percent would be abe to opt in.

    I’m thinking “all this blood and beer on the floor and it’s only going to benefit 2 percent? WTF?”

    And you can bet I, and folks like me, wont be eligible for that two percent.

    Change we can believe in….

  21. Without the best solution, which is single payer, a lot can be done to make improvements. I’m just short on confidence in the people tasked to get it done.

    I think the idea (I’m pretty sure it came from a Republican) to allow families to buy insurance across state lines is a good one. It would help solve some of the problems of a non-custodial parent ordered by a divorce court to insure children who live in another state. And in those states where one or a very few insurance companies have monopolies it would create greater competition.

    We used to think of insurance increasing our security and stability, so changes to get back to that are a must.

    — no denying coverage, or charging more, because of pre-existing conditions

    — against the law to drop coverage or to water it down when you need it the most

    — can not cap the coverage you receive in a year or a lifetime

    There are needed regulations as the muckety mucks at the top have proven their greed knows no bounds.

  22. lilacluvr

    I have some good friends who are staunch Republicans and hate everything Obama (oh, did I mention they are devout Catholics, as well?)

    Anyway, the guy was sitting there bad-mouthing Obamacare and saying that Medicare is the worst run health care plan ever.

    So, when all his ranting and gnashing of his teeth was done; I simply asked him -‘if Medicare is so bad, then why do you both have it? No one is making you take Medicare.’

    You could have heard a pin drop or a mouse fart. This staunch Republican had no answer to my question.

    I would also like to add that both of these people run to the doctor everytime they have the sniffles or their toe hurts. And their medicine cabinet is full of all those new drugs for every ailment on television and, of course, the man has his Viagra filled monthly without fail!

    And all of this is on the taxpayers dime but I guess they don’t care about that little fact because, after all, they are Republicans and they deserve health care. You betcha!

    Of course, these two are avid tea party supporters.

    The wife and I are good friends but we know not to discuss politics and/or religion – that is the only way to keep our friendship.

    As I was sitting there lsitening to this buffoon, I kept thinking about my own health care situation. My health insurance just changed my lifetime maximum benefit from $2 million to $500,000. I wonder how long that $500,000 will last if my cancer comes back? I’m already halfway there with my previous bills and follow up care. And I’m only 56 yrs old – Medicare won’t be there to save me.

    But I’m glad to know that my friend’s husband has his Viagra filled monthly without fail – somehow that makes my fears about my cancer returning seem silly.


    • None so blind…

      I don’t think Americans will get what they deserve from the current health-care reform initiatives, but I think we’ve started down a road we will continue on. There really isn’t any other choice.

      Hugs to you, Lilac! There isn’t anything I can do, but I’ll always listen and I always will care!

  23. 6176746f6c6c65

    A litte something to think about: once (if) interstate insurance sales are permitted, then all regulation of insurance companies will clearly, under the Commerce Clause, be the province of the federal government. While it may be argued that the feds have this ability now, allowing interstate “competition” closes the deal.

    BTW, once upon a time, when I was a callow youth, I heard a persuasive argument made that “free market competition” works not in matters related to health care. While one may disagree that this argument would apply in the medical insurance arena, I suggest that it would apply. fnord makes a valid point about child custody matters, to be sure; but I submit that allowing interstate competition in matters related to medical insurance will have the same result as interstate banking; less, rather than more, true “competition”, with even greater market concentration in fewer carriers.

    • Something along the lines of “only the strong survive?” 🙂

      I know of an insurance case the feds prosecuted because although the arson happened in one state, the claims office was in another so they were able to call in the Commerce Clause. The claim had to be made using federally regulated _____ and cross state lines.

    • So if the “states rights” folks knew this consequence their support would be withdrawn. Isn’t it part of what the Republicans are supporting? Are most of the “states rights / Ron Paul” crowd supporting Republicans (kinda in default) so they don’t have to appear to be supporting anything that smacks of evil libaruhls or President Obama?

  24. But, the full force of the federal government isn’t in play when the states do the controlling. I suspect this contributes to the ease of insurance fraud.

  25. Prairie Pond


    I think the reason “free market” doesnt work when related to health care, or health insurance, has to do with elasticity of demand. There isnt much elasticity relating to health care, and only slightly more when it comes to health insurance. And if there is little or no competition, it reduces the choice, and hence, affects the demand. There is demand for the service, but the “demand” is restricted almost to the point of monopoly.

    Anti-trust exemptions, anyone?

    Sorry. Couldnt resist my pet economic principle of elasticity of demand 🙂

    Geez, sometimes I’m such a wonk…

  26. 6176746f6c6c65

    Exactly right, imho.

    The example used from “back in the day” was, in fact, promulgated by my Anti-trust professor. While it is not an illustration of inelasticity of demand, it is interesting to consider.

    Condensed greatly, hospital A acquires an MRI machine, and promotes it, thereby increasing its patient numbers. Hospital B, in the same community, purchases one for its use, to staunch the losses it is suffering.

    Due to the fixed costs of the said equipment and the staff that is required to operate it, a price is attached to the service so these costs will be covered. As there exists only a certain number of patients in the area served by these two hospitals for whom use of this tool is required, a number that may adequately be serviced by one MRI machine and staff, the existence of more than one in the community results in higher costs to all, as the per unit price that must be chargedfor the service must be higher to cover the costs of both machines and staff. Additionally, use of the equipment in both locations will be less than optimal. Thus, competition between the two facilities serves to increase costs.

    There is more to this, of course, but I’ve often thought of this over the years as the debate over increasing cost of care and higher premiums for insurance has raged.

  27. GOP Health Bill Gives Insurers More Leeway

    WASHINGTON — A House Republican health-care bill wouldn’t seek to prevent health-insurance companies from denying sick people insurance, Minority Leader John Boehner said Monday.

    Republicans haven’t released full details of the party’s bill, but Mr. Boehner said the legislative proposal would be made public in the next couple of days.

    The bill would allow insurance firms to sell policies across state lines, permit small businesses to pool together to bring down costs they face, implement changes to medical malpractices, and give state governments more flexibility to pursue rule changes in their states.

    The absence of a requirement to end the practice of insurers being allowed to deny coverage to people who are already ill or have pre-existing conditions would be a significant difference between Democratic and Republican health-care overhaul proposals directly impacting the insurance industry.

    Republicans also wouldn’t prevent insurers from ending policies once an individual becomes seriously ill.

    They would include other proposals included in Democratic legislation, such as removing lifetime and annual bans on the cost of health-care benefits policyholders can receive.


    Wonder what good it would do to eliminate lifetime and annual maximums, when the insurance companies can still deny coverage or cancel coverage as soon as an insured needs it?

    And then, how could states make rules changes if the federal government now is in control of the rules — since it involves interstate commerce, and all.

    Republicans have all these great ideas, and their constituents will be screaming how wonderful they are (without thinking it through, just marching lock step).

    The Republicans — Making the government bigger one idiot idea at a time. Help the insurance companies, leave Americans to fend for themselves.

    • wicked

      And where will this save the government money?

      How does this help those who are currently under or uninsured?

      Right, let’s give the insurance companies free reign to raid our wallets and turn their backs when it literally kills us. Oh, wait, they’re already doing that! And under the GOP plan, they’ll have it even better!

      Only the rich can afford to get sick. When will the new potter’s fields be ready for the rest of us?