Health Care Plans Fly in Face of Middle Class, Poor

State Rep. Kevin Haggerty

D-Lackawanna
www.pahouse.com/Haggerty

As a state lawmaker I find myself continually disheartened by the inequity among Pennsylvania families’ hard choices when it comes to health care, particularly at a time when there is so much doubt and turmoil in the market for benefits.

Yes, I am blessed with a family health benefit package for which I pay 1 percent of my salary, as are my 252 colleagues in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Meanwhile, providers are charging families no different than ours thousands of dollars a month for plans that pale in comparison.

And yes, we lawmakers are working hard to expand Medicaid to needy families and free up dollars for an expanded Pennsylvania marketplace to complement the federal Affordable Care Act.

But we can do more, and I pledge to do more by introducing a bill that calls for an increase in the premiums lawmakers pay for our health care. I’m compelled to do so, not only because it could generate small savings in the middle-class health care markets, but because it’s the right thing to do for those of us who earn a living from tax dollars.

My family is no different than any other family in Pennsylvania. I spoke with two constituents of mine recently. Both are a family of four like mine, but what they pay out of pocket for health insurance is astronomical.

One family that receives a pay-in from an employer still pays more than $400 a month for a family plan with a $1,500 deductible. The other family pays 100 percent out of pocket, and it costs them more than $1,300 a month for a family plan with a $1,000 deductible. When our elected leaders in the state General Assembly and our federal Congress begin discussing affordable health care, they better first convince the people of this country that they are not part of a special society.

People living in my district have an average household income of less than $40,000 a year, and they are wondering why elected millionaires continue to receive “Cadillac” health plans while the working poor are being forced to pay premiums sometimes ten times greater than those representing them.

Unless examples are set soon by lawmakers on the state and federal levels, the division and mistrust in this country will create an even greater political apathy by ordinary Americans.

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