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What Does Affordable Health Insurance Mean to You?


If you are among the 46 million-plus people in America who does not have health insurance, chances are you have been solicited by a health insurance agent or have received telephone calls from insurance company representatives who try to tell you that they can sell you an “affordable health insurance policy.” If this has happened to you, did you return their question with one or more of your own?

Those questions might be: What is your definition of “affordable health insurance”? How do you know what affordable means to me and my family? If I tell you that I can only afford $100 per month for health insurance, can you offer me a meaningful health insurance plan?

On February 25, President Obama will meet with Democrats and Republicans in a bipartisan health reform summit. If this meeting is anything like the circus that the American public has been seeing on TV (for those who can stand to watch) as lawmakers have debated health care reform, then put away your popcorn and go out for a walk.

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While you are walking, ponder the questions that lawmakers have successfully avoided: What exactly does “affordable health insurance” mean? What percentage of your hard-earned income will you be expected—or forced--to hand over for coverage that is, regrettably, not so great or not what you want or need? Do you really think lawmakers have any realistic idea of what is affordable for the average American?

What if the lawmakers offered us the same coverage they enjoy? Senator Tom Coburn, in his Patient’s Choice Act of May 2009 (S.1099) states that “Plans offering coverage through an Exchange would have to meet the same statutory standard used for the health benefits given to Members of Congress.” Can they honestly tell us that such coverage will be affordable for most Americans?

Will we all be subjected to ever-increasing health premium rate hikes like those now being imposed by Wellpoint? Lawmakers assure us this won’t happen under their reform plan. Excuse me if I don’t believe them. Health insurers want to make money; politicians want to be reelected. Both parties will get what they want, and they expect the American public to pay for it.

On a personal note, I have received the “affordable health insurance” phone calls. I have posed the relevant questions: “What is your definition of affordable health insurance? How do you know what is affordable for me?” I was assured someone would get back to me to discuss a plan that would be “affordable” for me. When I told them how much disposable income I could had for a health insurance plan, there was a brief moment of silence and then again an assurance that someone would call me. Needless to say, the calls haven’t come.

I am not saying that I have the answers on how to achieve affordable health insurance or how to “fix” the health care crisis in this country. But I do, like many Americans, have a lot of questions. And until Americans can get clear, well-thought-out answers from lawmakers who are not holding out until they get what they want, then I don’t believe we should be force-fed a plan that will only serve to make us a sicker nation. My mother used to say you get what you pay for. I’m afraid in the case of so-called affordable health insurance, she would be wrong.