Saturday, March 25, 2006

Il Kids

Health insurance just became more affordable, at least for some.

Illinois is about to become the first state in the nation to offer health insurance to every child within its borders.

Every single child ought to have health insurance. In America today, there are nearly 9 million children who don't have health insurance

The 9M figure is a low estimate and included in the 45M uninsured that appears with some frequency in the press.

By charging premiums on a sliding scale, it plans to offer insurance to all children, even those of middle-class families whose kids aren't now covered. The expanded program is called All Kids.

Among them are Kyley and Tyler Cushman of Carmi, Ill. Sandra, their mother, makes $13 an hour working at a nursing home.

To cover her sons, 14 and 10, her monthly premiums would have been almost $400 a month under her employer's health insurance plan. Her husband, an electronics technician, who makes about $35,000, also has insurance from his employer. It would have been more than $300 a month if his plan had covered their kids.

An individual earning $13 per hour in a full time job makes about $26,000 per year. Added to the husbands income of $35,000 this brings their estimated yearly earnings to $61,000 per year.

Included in the 45M uninsured are 15M who earn in excess of $50,000 per year. Most people earning $50,000 or more should be able to afford health insurance.

Coverage with individual health insurance policies is almost always less expensive than trying to cover children under an employer plan.

So far, paying cash for their medical expenses has worked out. The younger son had a terrible earache this summer that woke him up screaming. They paid a little more than $100 for the office visit and antibiotics. They paid $145 for the older son's physical, required for enrolling in high school.

Their younger son has Perthes disease, a hip-development problem, but the Shriners charitable hospital in St. Louis has provided free treatment over the years for that condition. He no longer needs leg braces to walk.

Perthes disease is a condition that would be excluded under individual health insurance but is not a condition that would normally rate a declination for coverage. In a situation such as this, the Shriner’s hospital would still offer care that was excluded under an individual policy.

This seems like a good program the state is putting forth. However I do question the reasoning behind offering taxpayer subsidized coverage to those who earn in excess of $50,000 per year.

Approximately 40% of the households in America earn $50,000 per year or more.
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