Despite Reforms Self Employed Middle Class Still Face Health Insurance Crisis
Despite the current large-scale efforts on both the national political stage and in states like Massachusetts, and California to really find a solution for those without access to affordable medical coverage, millions of Americans are still faced with the fact they cannot afford adequate medical insurance. And while the gap may be shrinking for some, the hardest hit still may be the middle class, especially the middle class self-employed.
For someone working on their own, who is at the age where medical expenses are mounting, health benefits can prove to be very difficult to pay for. For someone with an actual medical condition like cancer or heart disease they may be impossible to afford. Because even in states that have laws in place that say you can not be denied coverage if you are in the market for private insurance, and have a pre-existing condition - there is no law that regulates the cost of such coverage. And for those with a middle class income it makes no difference if they have a "right" to a health insurance policy they cannot afford to purchase. Case in point one Vicky Readling. Vicky is an independent real estate agent who makes about $60,000.00 per year; she also has Cancer, and in January of this year lost her health benefits. Readling had paid to extend insurance from a previous job, which paid for her cancer treatments, but they would not renew the policy to her because of the illness. She tried to obtain a private insurance policy on the open market and received quotes for as much as $27,000.00 for the year!
Vicky is not alone, hard working middle class people like Readling who earn a "decent living" are one of the fastest-growing subgroups among the uninsured. And that is one of the main reasons why issues revolving around the growing problems of the uninsured have catapulted to the forefront of the domestic political agenda in Washington and on the campaign trail. According to a recent CBS/NY Times Poll affordable health insurance was the number one domestic policy issue with voters. According to a recent survey almost on third or the 47 million American without medical insurance have families and make over $40,000.00 a year. The same study, which was conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a non-partisan group, found nearly two thirds of the households without health benefits had at least one full time working adult in the home.
Meanwhile individuals like Vicky Readling do what they can to cut medical costs. She takes her prescribed cancer medication which cost about $300.00 a month, less then the prescribed 7 days a week only two or three times a week, and hopes for the best. Vicky says she cannot understand why she is being denied coverage ‘‘…what did I do wrong?'' she asks. ''Why am I being punished? I just don't understand how I could have fallen through this horrible, horrible crack.''