I’ve long been skeptical of our government’s ability to properly oversee and improve our health care system. After all, we have one of the best systems in the world, albeit one of the most expensive. You get what you pay for. If you want a Cadillac, you are going to pay much more than you would for a Chevrolet.
I just opened our mail, and I find from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: “We regret to inform you that beginning in 2017 we will no longer be offering you health care.”
What they really said was, “You’re out — tough luck, eh?” They commented on large expenses (not ones I have created, but their overall expenses) and about losing a lot of money on individual policies.
So what I would like to establish here is a bit of history about how we got into this mess, and where things stand, and more important, where we seem to be heading.
A few years ago now, we were told by our president and congressional leaders that we needed to overhaul our health care system to get more people covered and improve our care and our way of life. We were also told, repeatedly, by our president, “Don’t worry, you will not have to change your plan, you can keep the one you like.” He said this numerous times.
Well, after the new law was enacted, my wife received her first notice — you cannot keep your plan, it does not comply with federal law. Great. She spent many hours looking online, making phone calls, comparing notes, only to wind up spending more money each month for something she did not fully understand (or agree with).
Since this time, she has taken a new role with a new company, and fortunately, her employer provides a great plan with minimal cost — not because it has to, but to attract and retain talent. This employer is smart and realizes the value of good health care access at reasonable cost.
In 2015, my monthly premium for a high-deductible individual plan was $265. In 2016, that number moved to $431 (an increase of over 60 percent in one year) and today the news is “You’re done.” I now have to go online and waste a lot of time to figure out what is out there for me, almost certainly at an even higher cost with fewer benefits and less access.
Remember what the president said? “You don’t have to worry, you can keep your plan and costs will come down as a result of competition.” Really?
He obviously lives in a different world, but even worse, he just lies. I say this because after the news came out a few years ago that millions of Americans had received notices that their plans were being canceled, he said, “What we said was, if your plan is in compliance, you can keep it.”
I think this was to avoid saying “I lied” or “I had no idea what I was talking about,” or “My staff and party members misled me.” This is what happens when government interferes with the private sector; we get a stream of false promises and lies, and our situation worsens as a result.
This should be a central campaign issue for the fall elections. Great health care, access to it and the ability to rely on it, is an important thing in life. Forget about your cars, your entertainment, your weekend trips to the cabin. Without great health care none of those things matter. Being lied to should not be taken lightly — we should expect much better from our leaders.
I am fortunate. My wife has great coverage through her employer, and our income will enable us to pay for what comes our way. But I worry about the millions of Americans who are not in a great economic position and will be forced to pay more after wasting many hours searching for a new plan.
The bottom line, in my humble yet real-life opinion, is that our government needs to stay out of health care, period. Too many promises, too many lies and no clear results. Raising costs 60 percent the first year, and then canceling it the next year is a clear indication this effort has failed. I have heard from so many people whose costs have skyrocketed and who could not keep their plans. Many people tell me their health insurance premiums are their highest monthly costs. We need to repeal our health care bill, and hold accountable those who passed this law and told us everything would be just fine — in fact, better. We were sold a bill of goods.
Will Nagle lives in Apple Valley.