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A large Pa. employer supports ‘Medicare for All’ to ‘remove an albatross from American business’

A VIEW INTO NEVADA: Small business owners struggle with health care too. Here's how Medicare for All would help.

By Kirk White

2/21/2020

As a small business owner, health insurance has always been out of reach for me and my family. We've operated Lahontan Storage in Silver Springs, Nevada for about 30 years and even during good economic times, the health insurance plans available to us have been too expensive and the process too complex when you actually try to use the benefits.

Even with the affordable care act, last year, the least expensive bronze plan for my wife and I had a  monthly premium of $2375.60 with $6800 individual, and $13600 family annual deductibles. That puts the annual out of pocket costs at $35,307.20 for me and add another $6800 if my wife needs care also. That is before the insurance company pays anything. Even so, the plan only covers 60% of the total cost of care.

So we are expected to pay as much as $42,107.20 per year before the insurance companies pay a dime. That is more than a lot of working couples make in this country.

What happens when you don't have health insurance? You pray that disaster avoids you and try to save money for health emergencies. But family members get sick and bones sometimes break. We always had to prepare for the possibility of paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket to get something fixed.

The United States is one of the few industrialized nations in the world where this happens. We spend more money than any other country on health care and see declining health outcomes. Even for people who do have health insurance, the co-pays and deductibles and denied claims often means they are avoiding care and or paying more out of pocket. For instance, my brother-in-law got brain cancer and had insurance through his employer. When he was no longer able to work he lost his job, then is  health insurance, then his house, then his life.

Health insurance is so dysfunctional in this country that people are turning to strangers on the Internet to ask for money to pay medical bills. Last year, nearly $650 million was raised on the site GoFundMe to help cover people's medical bills. This is a flashing warning sign of just how off the rails our system has gotten.

Medicare for All is the only solution that makes sense for our country. Under Medicare for All, we would all have access to any doctor we want and there would be no premiums, no deductibles, and no co-pays. Middle class families would pay less in taxes for the system than they do in health insurance premiums today by far.

I've always believed that we need a national health care system. These health insurance and pharmaceutical companies should not be allowed to profit off of illness or other medical disasters.

Right now, small businesses face the brunt of health care costs. The average annual premium for a family is $20,000,  that's about $10 an hour just for health insurance, before even paying an employee an hourly wage. Maybe large corporations can handle these costs, but family businesses like mine and hundreds of thousands of others just can't do it.

That's one of the reasons I've joined Business for Medicare for All, a new national organization that is advocating for health care reform by making the business case.

Health care is not only a human right, but an economic necessity. How many other small business owners like myself are out there struggling for years without health insurance?  We should not allow corporate greed to govern our healthcare system. I believe Medicare for All will not only save business and individuals billions of dollars, but will greatly reduce the stress that has been imposed on society because of the system that is currently in place. Less stress means a healthier, happier society with improved health for everyone.

Kirk White is the owner of Lahontan Storage in Silver Springs, Nevada.