Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our perspective on health insurance reform

We have been observing the ongoing debate over health insurance reform for quite a while, and it seems to be coming to some sort of complicated conclusion. Or maybe just a new convoluted beginning. We're definitely confused about the different proposals competing against each other, but there's one thing we're certain of. Something needs to change.

From our perspective as small business owners, health insurance for our family has always been a problem. Millie has Type I Diabetes, which means no insurance company will insure us. When individuals apply for health insurance, they're only accepted if there are no pre-existing conditions and diabetes is a deal breaker.

So, we've been participating in Minnesota's health insurance plan of last resort, called the Minnesota Comprehensive plan, which is a subsidized plan for "uninsurable" people like us. For our family of five, it costs us about $1,100 a month. Our deductible is $1,000 for each of us, which means we always have to think twice, sometimes three times, before visiting urgent care or making a doctor appointment. Most years, only Millie ever gets past the deductible. One time, when we took Duncan to the ER, the insurance coordinator at the hospital said "wow--that's really crappy insurance." "Yes," we said. "We know." Offering health insurance to all our employees is not an option, because Millie, with her diabetes, would set the rates for the whole group sky high.

When Obama talked about offering a "public option" during the campaign, we thought that sounded great. Frankly, we'd also support single payer, although that doesn't even seem to be on the table. We're not even sure--what is on the table? All we keep hearing is that some compromise plan which may or may not help us may or may not make it through congress.

We've been chomping at the bit for health care reform since Hillary Clinton. In any case, we're sure that our situation is not unique and we know that many people decide not to start small businesses precisely because of how expensive health insurance can be. Almost anything would be better than the current system.

We've heard more people talking about how the health insurance problem affects small businesses. Our friends at the Birchwood Cafe recently held a press conference about how their business is impacted, too. We agree entirely with their point of view and we call on Congress to do something now to fix this problem.
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