Here’s a concrete example of what ‘skyrocketing premiums,’ ‘gargantuan deductibles,’ and ‘outrageous co-pays’ look like on the ground for a blue-collar, middle-class truck driver.
So often I hear the health-care crisis discussed in generalities and abstractions. “Premiums are skyrocketing.” “Deductibles are gargantuan.” “The co-pays are outrageous!”
While that’s all true, that sort of talk is largely meaningless to me, and probably you as well. I want to scream, “You have no idea!” So if you’ll indulge me, I’ll give you a concrete, albeit anecdotal, example of what “skyrocketing premiums,” “gargantuan deductibles,” and “outrageous co-pays” look like on the ground for a blue collar, middle-class truck driver.
I work for a really great trucking outfit. I love the job. They provide us with top-notch equipment and plenty of miles. (For those of you not familiar with truck driving, miles equal money.) However, if I elected to buy health insurance for my family of four through my company, I would take a salary cut to the tune of about $25,000 a year. That’s on top of my employer paying approximately one-fourth of the costs, about $6,000.
I wish they’d just add that to my salary. Another six grand a year would cover my daughter’s private school tuition, which keeps her from being indoctrinated by the progressive left and “common core” propaganda. But I digress.
We Have to Fork Over $30,000 Every Year to Buy Nothing
So if I want health insurance, the tab for me is a little over $2,000 per month, plus $500 if you add my employer’s contribution. Comparatively, then, my monthly payment for my daughter’s school tuition is cheap, at about $425 a month. Anyway, does that $30,000 a year go toward actually paying for any health expenses we incur? Nope. The deductible is five large!
We have to meet that before our meds or anything else will be covered. Until then, we have to co-pay on all meds and medical treatment. For my inhaler for asthma, I pay a $55 co-pay. Retail cost of the inhaler? $63. Without going into the grisly details, on average we have about $400 in medical expenses per month among the four of us. Obviously, something isn’t passing the smell test here.
So let me get this straight: I’m going to drive 2,500 miles a week so I can pay a health insurer more than $2,500 a month just in case, God forbid, one of us gets cancer? If you break that down by mileage, the insurance company and whoever else is benefiting from this is getting paid 25 cents for every mile I drive. And they’re not doing anything! If they want to earn 25 cents for every mile I drive, then come out on the road with me!
So, in reality, my company hired me, not because I’m a rock star truck driver who makes the company a profit, but so, what—the insurance companies can stay in business? The politicians can stay elected? The lobbyists can drive around in Benzes? Where in the name of Sam Hill is all this money going? Oh, that’s right. Perhaps it’s going to a Georgetown law student who wants to have sex with no consequences. Or to a “transgender” person in the military who wants a sex-change operation. Certainly those must be covered, right? To be sure, women who want abortion on demand or abortifacients must be fully subsidized, but who cares if asthma meds for working folks quadruple in costs.
Now, I do alright. I can help some people. If a pregnant teen came to me and asked for help, I might be willing to take a large salary cut to help her find her way. I could help her in a very specific and personal way that is accord with my values and her best interests. But no! Uncle Sam is going to dictate how I’m allowed to “help” her. That once-discretionary income has been wrested from my hands on pain of death because, after all, I can’t be trusted to do the right thing with my own money.
How About You Politicians Live In the Mess You Made
Before “Obamacare” I paid a $16 co-pay for my inhalers. Now I might as well buy the things outright. To add insult to injury, I make too much money to qualify for the “Obamacare subsidies.” So all that talk about health reform being for the “middle-class” is absolute nonsense.
I’m a truck driver who spends his weeks away from his family to earn a living wage. Yet if one of us gets really sick, we’re sunk. Dying slowly in America has become a very, very expensive proposition. What’s more is, I fear this has all been concocted by design. The only thing that makes a lick of sense is that this is a gargantuan transference of wealth. It is not robbing the rich to give to the poor. It’s not even robbing the middle-class to give to the poor. It’s robbing the middle-class to keep politicians elected for “doing something” that somehow constantly seems to make the problems worse.
There’s no bloody way that I’m going for this. I don’t know much about financial planning, but I’ve been told it’s silly to pay for a term-life plan as if you’re going to get hit by a bus tomorrow. So there’s no way I’m going to pay for a health insurance plan that is basically predicated on one of us having something catastrophic happen later this afternoon.
I Can Solve This Problem Myself Without Your Meddling
I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid. I’m simply not going to pay out the nose for virtually nothing in return. My game plan is to pay out of pocket for our regular medical expenses. What would you rather do: Pay $400 per month to fund your own regular medical expenses, or pay $2,400 per month for insurance premium plus co-pays plus meeting the deductible? I’ll take option “A.” Then I’ll just set up my own health savings plan so when one of the kids breaks an arm, we’ll pay for it out of that. Then of course I have to pay whatever nonsense penalty Uncle Sam has going on for not having health insurance. GRR.
I’m pretty much done listening to politicians and pundits pontificate about lowering premiums, deductibles, and co-pays. I’m main-lining to give myself the health care I want and need. We can call it the “Blue Collar-Redneck Shield” plan. I’d better get crackin’ on this, because it won’t be long until the powers that be simply start deducting $2,500 a month from my paycheck for whatever convoluted government program they come up with.
It reminds me of the old Mafioso days where the neighborhood boss would come around to your business demanding “protection money.” When it comes down to it, there’s not actually any real protection service on offer. The only real benefit you receive is the peace of mind that the boss may not send his henchmen to put a bullet in your head for non-payment.
Seems to me like our “Big Brother” doesn’t operate much differently. He forces you to pay for a “service” that really isn’t a service, and what you’re really paying for is crummy protection from a malevolent “benefactor”—that “benefactor” being the federal government and politicians’ hand-picked special interest constituencies. Pay him and he won’t punish you, except by bequeathing you a terrifying environment. Refuse payment, and suffer worse consequences.
Well, sorry, Uncle Sam. You’ve fooled with the wrong country boy! I’m checking out of this little game while I still can. I’m opting for the “Blue Collar-Redneck Shield” plan, brought to you by “Southern Engineering.” I’ll simply do what I can given the circumstances—just like I always have.
Matthew Garnett is the husband of Jennifer, the father of two children, a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, truck driver, and host of the “In Layman’s Terms” broadcast.