To the Editor:
At the Dec. 18 [Waldoboro] selectmen’s board meeting, I heard something that stunned me. The town is currently paying $1300 a month per employee for family healthcare coverage. That’s $15,600 a year – the equivalent of the entire year’s wages of someone earning $8 an hour!
Thankfully the town will be switching to another health plan provider, which will cut the average health care cost of $12,148 per employee to $7815 per year, or $651 a month. That’s still two week’s wages for that $8 an hour employee.
How many of these $8 and $10 an hour employees, who can’t even afford their own healthcare, are paying for those 27 employees’ health insurance with their property taxes?
I do believe everyone deserves healthcare. Fewer and fewer people can actually afford it. When they do have health insurance, their deductibles might be so high as to be burdensome. Or they find their insurance company refuses to pay for necessary healthcare because they didn’t see the right doctor or get the right pre-authorization or the approved medication.
Perhaps government employees at all levels are reluctant to support universal health care because they are so handsomely covered. But it is the rest of us, including many who cannot afford their own healthcare that are giving them that coverage. As the recession worsens, how long will even government employees be able to keep their health coverage?
I applaud the selectmen for finding a less costly method of insuring their employees, but I feel that, in the absence of a federal universal healthcare program, the town should determine which taxpayers are going without healthcare, or are under-insured, and rebate them that portion of their property taxes that go toward paying for the health insurance of these 27 employees.
The town should also officially support the United States National Health Insurance Act (HR 676), which provides health insurance for all U.S. residents from birth to death. It will be publicly funded, privately delivered healthcare by the provider of your choice.
I collected more than 100 signatures in Waldoboro on Election Day supporting this bill, and with each signature, I heard how difficult it was for people to afford either the insurance premiums, or healthcare for which they had no insurance. Or, how they had to pay thousands of dollars of uncovered medical expenses even when they did have insurance.
Middle class wages are harder than ever to come by, and even a livable wage meeting the most basic living costs isn’t even offered by many employers.
That would be $10.61 an hour for a single person in Lincoln County, according to the Maine Center for Economic Policy. And don’t think you can pay for home repairs or a broken furnace on that wage, or even property taxes, much less healthcare.
One in four Americans are uninsured or underinsured. That is how well our for-profit system takes care of us.
Cindy McIntyre, Waldoboro