“It’s the Economics!” – A clear call for universal health care from a Maine small business

Editor’s note: The following letter appeared November 18, 2016 in the Bangor Daily NewsThe Ellsworth American and The Weekly Packet detailing the financial plight of a Blue Hill small business, Lucy’s Granola due to sky high health insurance costs. It is a clear cry to make health care accessible and affordable by everyone in Maine. Please join our work – Subscribe and Support Maine AllCare – in helping Maine businesses owners and their employees become more healthy and successful. You may request a health policy expert to speak before your business group by writing to us.

Fix our health care system

Our family of five should be part of the effort to ensure the success of Maine’s economy. We run a small business with six employees, all paid above the minimum wage. We hire Maine-based consultants and suppliers to help us continue and grow our business.

Despite this, we are now looking for full-time jobs that come with health insurance benefits as we can no longer afford private health insurance. In 2016, we have paid Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield $24,257.28 for insurance. Our family deductible is $10,000. By the end of this year, we will have paid more than $34,000 for health insurance for our healthy family. Had we enrolled under the Affordable Health Act our costs would have been more as we do not qualify for the subsidy.

In 2017, Anthem has quoted $33,229.68 for our insurance, not including the $14,300 deductible. That comes to over $47,000 for 2017. Under the Affordable Care Act Bronze Plan, we might be able to bring our costs down to between $36,000 and $40,000. That’s hardly “affordable.”

Today’s health insurance costs are the greatest threat to our economy’s growth and success. Clearly, neither private health insurance nor the Affordable Care Act is affordable for our family. With the result of the election, there is an assumption that the Affordable Care Act will be overturned. We need our elected officials to recognize that their failure to develop a truly affordable health insurance system is preventing the success and growth of our state and national economies. It is long past time that the state and federal governments resolve this crisis.

Lucy Benjamin
Clifton Page
East Blue Hill