Kay in Bedford, Pennsylvania
Originally uploaded by walk4healthcare
Kay’s a part-owner of a small business—all of three people. Because of the high cost of health insurance, the deductibles, and ‘all that,’ “they’ve got no discretionary income,” she told me. They’re with Highmark and the premium went up $100 a month within the past few months alone. Her husband has had two heart surgeries (done at the Cleveland Clinic). The cost was $4,000 a day but they ended up paying $700. “That was a relief,” she said. “But we're lucky. We can afford healthcare insurance—barely—but that leaves us with no extra money.” Clearly up-to-date on various healthreform proposals, she added, “It would be nice if I could deduct it as a tax credit.”
“But here’s the real problem,” Kay continued. “If my husband—or I—couldn’t work then we wouldn’t be able to maintain the income to pay for any insurance. How will we be able to pay for health insurance when we actually need it most? That’s what doesn’t make sense.”
I was readying to leave when Kay interrupted. “One more thing. I think much of these premium monies are being wasted.”
“How so?” I asked.
“I went to a Pirates game and they were giving out free bobblehead dolls.” Guess who sponsored all that?”
“Highmark. That’s where health insurance premiums go—to advertising.”
And so my experience came full circle as I recalled the giant Highmark billboards scattered among Pittsburgh’s downtown when I had been there four days earlier.