Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fair and Balanced

Several readers have weighed in on our recent article about the Frost family. Some comments are kind, some not so.

The original article only addressed one issue. Can a family of 6 in Baltimore find health insurance cover for less than $1200 per month (as alleged in the referenced news piece)?

The answer was yes.

Those who responded attempted to challenge the numbers by saying (rightfully so) that I did not know the actual ages of the Frost family and that I did not know if any or all family members were healthy.

Of course our post never said the premiums quoted (under $500 per month) were for the Frost family. Nor do the premium figures used in the post reflect any adjustments for existing health issues.

Some who commented challenged my figures as inaccurate since:

a family of 3 in Maine pays $1200 per month;

a single, disabled individual in Washington pays $800 per month;

a couple in parts unknown pay $4000 per month for coverage;

and a single in parts unknown pays $700 per month.

If I wanted to puff the article I would have chosen a completely different zip in a low cost area like Macon, Georgia and would have used a single parent with one child for comparison. Of course that would be silly.

Still others wanted to challenge my numbers since I used a generic zip for Baltimore rather than this couple's particular zip. Again, I was not trying to match the exact demographics for the Frost's but rather checking prices in general for the area.

The biggest smoke screen of all challenged whether the Frost's, or anyone with severe pre-existing medical conditions, can get health insurance at any price.

Insurability, or lack thereof, was never an issue in the original post.

All this aside, I was challenged to contact the author of the Baltimore Sun article for clarification. Below is my letter to him.

I am waiting on a response and it will be published in its' entirety should he choose to respond.

Good afternoon Mr. Brown -

I read your article on the Frost's in the Baltimore Sun and would like to inquire as to how much research you did for the article. If you would indulge me I would be most appreciative.

The family claims to have an income of $45,000 but (according to several sources) they live in a neighborhood of $500,000 homes. Did you verify their income or even question if they qualified for taxpayer subsidized health cover for their children?

Also it has been reported that Mr. Frost is the owner of a business with what seems to be significant assets. Did you question why Mr. Frost fails to provide his family with coverage through his "employer"? Or did you simply take their comment at face value that their employer does not provide health insurance?

It appears from your article that the parents do not have health insurance. Is this valid? Did you inquire if they ever had health insurance (them or the children) in the last 3 years? Do they have coverage now or are they expecting the taxpayers to cover them as well?

Which leads to another, all important question. The article states that health insurance for the family would cost $1200 per month. I have tried to find a plan on eHealthinsurance for $1200 and can't come close. I do see several plans for two 40 year old adults with 4 kids in zip code 21231 starting as low as $262 per month. Plans with quite a few "bells & whistles" are available in the $400 - $500 range and one plan with copays and no deductible for $787.

Are there health issues that would have precluded the Frost's from obtaining insurance at standard rates on themselves, or the children, and would have caused the rate to jump into the $1200 range? If so, without revealing anything that would be a HIPAA violation, would you mind sharing that with me?

I have no problem with deserving families and their children receiving taxpayer subsidized coverage, but I do take issue with able bodied people, especially those with the means, who want to usurp the system.

I look forward to your response.

take care,
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