I grew up in Michigan. I got my driver’s license when I was sixteen years old, and I gloried in the autonomy of being able to go anywhere I wanted, with the radio (or cassette tapes) blasting. My first car was shared with my sister Shawn. It was a 1975 Plymouth Fury that had belonged to my grandfather. It was brown with a hardtop and champagne interior. It smelled like cigars, and was a quintessential grandpa’s car. My brother got the cool car. It had been my grandmother’s. It was a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda (!). Yes, it was my grandmother’s car. I still can’t really figure that out. So, yes, my brother got the cool car. We drove the grandpa’s car. But, hey, it was affordable. We shared the car, and were thankful for it. We didn’t need a sports car. Or a luxury car. Or a muscle car. The Fury served us very well.
When we bought auto insurance, we researched our options. We chose that famous configuration that was so well known to young Michigan drivers. PL and PD. Public Liability and Property Damage. This was the bare bones insurance. This was what you had to have to legally protect yourself. So, if I wrapped the car around a tree, it would pay for the damage to the tree and keep me from getting sued. It didn’t cover collision, auto glass, or anything else. It was there to keep me from catastrophe. I think it is a good idea to have this kind of catastrophic coverage, and we had no choice but to carry it as a minimum. It was also very cheap. PL and PD was the lowest cost, minimum insurance, and most of my friends carried the same plan.
We didn’t buy a Cadillac. The reason is that we couldn’t afford it. It would have been great to have a Cadillac, but it wasn’t realistic. The Fury met our needs most capably, and we benefited from our modest transportation. We weren’t disadvantaged. We also didn’t buy comprehensive auto insurance. The reason, again, is that we couldn’t afford it. We did have insurance that would cover us if things went terribly wrong, and that was all we wanted. I wish the same were true of health care insurance today.
As you know, the Affordable Care Act requires every person in America to buy insurance or face a penalty. Now, if this insurance was comparable to PL and PD in cost and benefits, I could see the government having some role in this. But as it stands right now, every American MUST buy Maternity and newborn care (even if my wife and I are past childbearing years), Mental health and substance use disorder services (even if I am a teetotaler), Prescription drug coverage (even though it is cheaper to buy the drugs directly than pay for the coverage), Rehabilitative services, Durable medical devices and pediatric services (even if I don’t have any kids). This is a whole lot more than PL and PD, folks. It is the auto insurance equivalent of a complete comprehensive plan with the rental car option, roadside assistance and a low deductible. Not everyone wants to pay for this level of insurance, and not everybody needs all these benefits. And I especially don’t want to pay for other people to have these benefits which I am choosing to do without.
But, under the current ACA law, you will have to pay for this. I have told my story in other blog posts about how I received a cancellation notice for my company’s insurance this month. Our insurance was cancelled because it didn’t meet the ObamaCare minimum standards. It paid for congestive heart failure treatment, cardiac ablation, a hip replacement, and many more serious ailments. And it had no lifetime maximum limit. This was a great plan, and my Senator, Kristen Gillibrand, told me personally at a round table meeting in July of 2010 that we could keep it. This is not the case.
All we are asking is to be able to choose the Health Care Plan that is right for us. The President and Congress should consider eliminating or editing the ten essential health benefits. This is the logical starting place to allow insurance companies to offer affordable insurance with a choice. The President’s recent pronouncement to allow insurance companies to offer the cancelled plans is a nice idea, but it is only temporary, and does nothing for those millions of us who have lost affordable insurance. I don’t want to deal with unaffordable health care in a year. I want to be able to buy insurance that is right for me, my family, and my employees. In this case, Washington has overreached, and needs to pull way back.
I can’t afford a Cadillac.