New insurance, no assurance

Letters to the Boston editor, November 23, 2007
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  November 19, 2007

Regarding “Insure This”: let’s see, we start with a government-enforced policy about a life-and-death issue. Then we add members of the public who are vowing to break the law on purpose, as a matter of principle. Sounds kind of like the draft or the civil-rights movement, doesn’t it? Only now, it’s called “mandatory medical insurance.” There are no draft cards to burn in public — you just refuse to sign up. So why not call the response what we used to call it back in the late 1960s: “civil disobedience.” All that’s left is to get organized.

Whether the state will give up on young uninsured people remains to be seen. But this isn’t just a problem for the average 18- to 35-year-old set. The state’s already given up on my partner and me, and we’re in our late 50s. We earn more than $40,000 per year as a couple, so we get no help from Commonwealth Care, the Insurance partnership, or Mass Health (Medicaid). We’re too young to get Medicare coverage. Instead, according to the state’s own figures, the most we should be expected to pay to insure the two of us is $500 per month, based on our income. But based on where we live and our birth dates, the least expensive rate the state has to offer through their selection of “discounted” plans is $740 a month. And that’s without prescriptions, which my partner needs.

So, officially, we “cannot afford” insurance under the new law, and therefore won’t be penalized come tax time. So much for universal coverage. “You’ll just have to go out and research the plans available yourself,” I was told when I asked what to do next. Then I discovered that, if we make just a few thousand more dollars this year than we did last year, we “fall off the end” of the state’s affordability schedule. In which case, we will be penalized for not signing up.

As two self-employed people, we won’t know if this will apply to us until after we compute our taxes this January. But that will just add insult to injury, since to get a plan with prescription coverage, we’ll be expected to pay almost as much as our mortgage, every month. Sorry, no can do. So, we’re in middle-age, middle-class outer space. It’s starting to get pretty chilly out here.

Glenn Koenig

Your article on Massachusetts’s mandatory-health-insurance plan was great. However, you left out my group. I am a 53-year-old single male whose 2006 income was $7250. This would make me eligible for Commonwealth Care at no cost. I strongly object to the state mandating participation in certain programs. I will decide what, when, and how my health needs are met, not them. As a result, I have decided to accept the consequences by refusing to enroll. I will forfeit my tax exemption for 2007. As for 2008, since the cost to me would be zero, 50 percent of zero is zero. I will also accept this penalty.

Ed Botte

Unfortunately checked out
We are fortunate to have had outgoing BPL president Bernard A. Margolis here in Massachusetts to bring the Boston Public Library out of the dark ages. Hopefully Margolis will be able to continue his work in Massachusetts, in a capacity that benefits the state’s public libraries.

Don Warner Saklad

Related: Unpleasantness at the BPL, While you were out . . ., Forty whacks, More more >
  Topics: Letters , Boston Public Library, Medicare
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