I like Mitt Romney. I respect his achievements. I can even understand why he signed off on Massachusetts' universal health insurance plan -- it was a steamroller, being pushed hard by the 85%-Democratic legislature, and Romney had the choice of getting on board or getting flattened.
But I will never understand why he takes such pride in the matter, when it's turning out to be exactly the kind of disaster so many of us expected it to be.
Today, the Boston Globe has a column by a woman who bemoans the problem of not having insurance, but not having enough insurance. And she's hiding behind her 14-year-old son's testicles to make her point.
She turns the story of him getting kicked in the groin into a full-blown (pardon) screed about how one stray cleat nearly beggared her family. And why did that happen?
She's kind enough to spell out just what put them in such straits.
The bills had begun accumulating shortly after my husband, a social worker, switched jobs and we were forced to change health insurance from a local Blue Cross plan to a for-profit national plan. My husband was not offered a choice of health plans, and when we signed up it was not made clear that our deductible for the year would be $3,000 (for in-network expenses; $4,500 for out-of-network expenses).
Nor did we understand that once we met the deductible (i.e., spent $3,000 to $4,500 of our own money), we would then have to pay co-insurance: 15 percent of every in-network expense we incurred and 45 percent of any out-of-network expenses. Some Massachusetts residents who sign up for health insurance under the state's new plan will face even higher premiums and deductibles. Even some low-income residents who used to get free care will have to pay co-insurance charges that they may not be able to afford, according to Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates for single-payer national health insurance.
In short: her husband, the family's insurance provider, changed jobs for one that had considerably worse benefits (for them), and they didn't read the details of the new plan when they signed up and started paying their premiums.
Even shorter: we didn't do our homework, so pity us.
This is the future of state-mandated health insurance: whatever the state gives you, it won't be enough. Whatever you want, you will get, and you won't have to worry about the costs. The state will pick up the tab, or make the providers take what they're offered.
I've lost track of how many times it's been said, but it's so, so true:
If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it's free.