Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Health Insurance Companies Have Won

The February 13 issue of the Richmond Times Dispatch reports that Anthem is raising its health insurance premiums on individual plans in California by 39%. Here in Virginia, they are going up between 7% and 8.5%, after a 20% hike in December. The private, high deductible plan that I had, which cost $435 per month last May, will now cost $559 per month, or $6,702 per year. How many unemployed people can afford that?

Why the increase? According to the Times Dispatch, healthy people who are out of work are either going without insurance or purchasing less expensive, high-deductible plans. Because more people are deciding to do without, prices are going up. The shareholders must continue to see a profit.

Let’s face it: the Insurance companies have won. They used their scare tactics to convince the Tea Party folks that healthcare is a liberal plot to suck up their cash and downgrade their own healthcare. It’s a country club mentality: “Our stuff won’t be as good if we let poor, sick people participate.” Meaningful healthcare reform is not going to happen.

Bill Melton’s letter today was right on target. We Christians need to put our money where our mouths are. If we don’t want the government involved in healthcare, more churches should do what my church in Massachusetts did. First United Methodist Church in Hudson, Massachusetts put the word out to the community that it wanted to open a clinic for the uninsured and the underinsured. The community responded with donations galore, and now free medical care is available at the church on Monday nights to those without health coverage. That is Christianity in action.

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