May 6, 2010
Buying insurance won’t lower health care costs
I don’t know who Rob Ezerman (“Guest column: To answer your questions …,” April 29) is and how qualified he is to reply to the questions Mike Benevento posed in his column (“Right to the Point,” April 22), but the answers don’t make any sense. Having car insurance and health insurance are two different things.
“Forcing” health insurance isn’t going to make any difference in the overall health of the community, as he stated. Communicable diseases aren’t going to disappear, heart disease isn’t going to disappear and influenza will still makes its rounds during flu season, all because going to the doctor is still going to be optional. Having the flu shot will still be optional. The public won’t be any more protected than it is now.
The only way the general public is going to be any better off is for the health industry to lower its costs. Health care would be more accessible. Forcing health insurance is only going to insure health care costs will rise. It won’t do a thing for the overall health of the population as a whole.
Kimberly Townsend, Williston
Another point on health care
I appreciate Rob Ezerman’s guest column (“To answer your questions,” April 29) responding to Mike Benevento’s questions regarding the new health care legislation (“Right to the Point,” April 22).
I would like to add the following information, which became available just after the original column was published: the number of Americans who will be required to purchase health insurance or be penalized is estimated to be about 4 million, which is a rather small percentage. The legislation provides a “loophole,” which allows you to be exempt from penalty if the cost of available insurance is over 8 percent of your taxable income.
For reference, Vermont’s Catamount plan provides assistance for a family of four with up to about $65,000 annual income; the federal plan will provide assistance for the same family up to $88,000 annual. The cost of Catamount unassisted for this family is about $13,000 per year, so currently in Vermont, if this family buys the plan, it will cost them about 20 percent of their annual income! The federal plan provides more assistance and recognizes the immense burden of insurance. This family would not be required to pay a penalty unless they were earning over $162,000 per year. Realistically speaking, a family earning that much would probably have no problems buying insurance; thus the penalty is almost a moot point.
The problem is still making insurance affordable for the folks earning, say, $70,000 to $100,000 per year, and hopefully the increase in pool size will help, although more needs to be done to bring down the cost of insurance.
Stewart Cohen, Williston
To understand government financing it is necessary to understand that they don’t play by the same rules as you do. It is good clean fun and helpful for education for the state to run a gambling operation. It is a criminal activity for private citizens to engage in the same business. If you are a private financial institution and you wish to make money providing student loans, you are now a criminal according to new federal laws. Bernie Madoff was sent to prison for running a trust where he invested people’s money. The trouble was like Social Security he didn’t invest any money, he just rolled cash he took from new investors to pay old investors. Madoff was doing exactly what Social Security has been doing for the last 60 years. The Fed does not buy swanky houses or boats from the 12 percent of my income that is confiscated as Social Security tax (6 percent payroll tax plus 6 percent paid by my employer); it is rolled into general spending and vote buying.
The Vermont Legislature says they have balanced the budget. They borrowed $75 million of this from the Feds for unemployment compensation and look to have another $100 million deficit over next year. The trouble is my employer and I will be responsible for paying off the debt caused by the failed Ponzi scheme known as “unemployment insurance.”
Bernie is behind bars, I’m not getting a raise this year and worry about remaining employed. Politicians in Montpelier are betting a shrinking economy and new taxes will reverse the red ink spill. Oh yeah, Washington hopes that imposing their financial morality over the entire financial sector will really perk things up.
Shelley Palmer, Williston