Personal Finance: Seniors are scared and skeptical that Republicans can create a better, more affordable health-care system

Most people said they were very concerned about the future cost of coverage.
Personal Finance
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Seniors are scared and skeptical that Republicans can create a better, more affordable health-care system

President Trump, accompanied by House GOP members, in the Rose Garden after the House pushed through a health-care bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. (Evan Vucci/AP) Last week I asked: What are your thoughts about the GOP’s answer to Obamacare? There was no shortage of opinions, complaints about stories of skyrocketing insurance premiums. Most people said they were very concerned about the future cost of coverage. Will Republican senators pass the GOP health-care bill? Here’s what they’re saying so far. Greg in Boonsboro, Md., wrote, “I’m 56 and have been taking time off from outside work (for 8 years) to help my aging father and to work on our small farm. My wife (home schooling our kids) and I have no debt or mortgage and investments for some income. We got our health insurance from Blue Cross on our own before ACA and it started out around $300 a month with $5,000 deductible for four of us. We also had a couple of minor preexisting conditions that they would not cover.” Greg says his medical insurance has shot up to $1,060 plus the $5,000 deductible. He got a federal job just so that he could get more affordable coverage. “We had a couple of health issues come up (I got thrown from a horse). Our health-care costs were over $18,000 last year. Last fall, I started applying for federal jobs and I just got an interesting position at DOD (IT work and they got a waiver from the freeze) just to get the health benefits. It will be around $550 a month and a minimal deductible. If I work another 6 years (or more) I can retire and get cheaper insurance through them before I’m 65. From my experience, heath-care costs are out of control in the U.S.” Andrew Smith of Santa Rosa, Calif., has a similar story of rate inflation. “Look at these numbers: $320, $620, $671, $701 and $855,” Smith wrote. “The first was my last pre-Obamacare health-care policy with Anthem Blue Cross with a $6,000 deductible. The next number was my first Obamacare health-care policy with Blue Shield and a $5,500 deductible. The third number was year two under Obamacare and the fourth number my third year under Obamacare both with high deductibles. The last number was my final costs under Obamacare for the first two months this year before I got on Medicare. Free at last!” Ed Johnson of Grand Prairie, Tex., wrote, “I hear people complaining that they don’t want their taxes to pay for other people’s insurance. They forget I have been paying taxes to support their kids’ education in public schools for over 20 years without any kids of my own in the system. In the long run health-care for everyone helps society in general.” “To say that I am concerned about this travesty of a bill passed by the House is an understatement,” wrote Judy Richardson Dunkley of Glen Ridge, N.J. “As someone who worked my way through college and law school and has paid for employer-sponsored health care for almost 40 years, with premiums that get higher and higher and coverage that gets lower and lower, I am outraged. I am outraged that having supported those in the insurance pool who were older and less healthy through my 20s, 30s and 40s, I now find myself facing the possibility of being unable to afford health care in my late 50s. Every time one of the congressmen supporting this bill opens his mouth, the ignorance and misinformation that spills forth is jaw-dropping. Yes the younger and healthier are subsidizing the older and sicker, but that is how health insurance works. That is how it has always worked. The whole mandated coverage thing was developed as a means of balancing the risk pool by requiring the younger people to get insurance. The younger and healthier help pay for the older and sicker, and when they get older and sicker the younger and healthier in the pool will help pay for them. It is an equitable system. This bill doesn’t fix the problems with the ACA.; it makes them worse. It doesn’t cover more people at lower premiums as promised. It does the opposite. And it certainly doesn’t cover ‘everybody.’ “
By the way a working group of Senators charged to work on health care to move it along in the Senate failed to include any women. A lot of research shows that putting 13 male senators in charge of a health-care bill is a lousy idea Sue Bonneau of Muncie, Ind., has seen the winning and losing side of Obamacare. She wrote, “Politicians rarely deliberate the cause and effect of what they do, but instead tout the hoped-for outcomes. With Obamacare our sons were winners because they could stay on our insurance until they were 26. (We still had to pay for them though, so it wasn’t a real victory for us.) Before, we had a family plan including my spouse and our sons through my employer since that was the better policy. We then received notice from my employer that since my spouse had ‘comparable’ insurance (not better, not the same, just comparable) he could not be covered under my plan. Now we get to pay for TWO insurances instead of one. How is this a benefit? My mother-in-law had insurance through her late husband’s employer at the retiree rate of $75. Since Obamacare was in the offing, Sears canceled this plan and out she went to the Obamacare rolls where a comparable policy cost an extra $300. Exactly who was the loser there?” Bonneau added: “Here’s hoping that the Senate will hear the critiques of the new plan, will remember the faults of Obamacare, and will find a good compromise, which means that NO ONE will be happy!” Retirement rants & raves
In this feature your voice matters. This is a space in which you can rave or rant about anything related to retirement. So what’s on your mine about your retirement or your planning for retirement? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Rants & Raves.” Mark Collier of Lexington, Ky., is worried about his promised pension. He wrote, “I’m coming up on 63. I am very worried about the pension I have accrued over the 40 years I have worked for my company. It was frozen a number of years ago and replaced by a 401(k). It should be sitting there ready for me. However, the company has put itself in a precarious situation through a number of poorly planned and instituted business decisions. We just were informed today that there will be no pay increase this year. I full well expect if there is a way for them to renege on my earned benefit, they will, with the blessing and facilitation of the current administration. Because there is a smaller pool of us coming up to retirement under this pension plan, crying poor will allow them to skim off my future.” Worried about your pension? Read this: How Safe Is Your Pension? Newsletter comments policy
Please note it is my personal policy to identify readers who respond to questions I ask in my newsletters. I find it encourages thoughtful and civil conversation. I want my newsletters to be a safe place to express your opinion. On sensitive matters or upon request, I’m happy to include just your first name and/or last initial. But I prefer not to post anonymous comments (I do make exceptions when I’m asking questions that might reveal sensitive information or cause conflict.) Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.
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