Newburyport, Unaffordable Health Insurance in Massachusetts

“my mother releases a scream so loud
god pees…”

This is actually a quote from a (one person) play that my son has written. Parts of it have been performed (by him) in NYC. The whole production is about to get a “run through” in Providence R.I. (Should the whole thing get put on in NYC, you can be sure you all would know.)

Remember that 43.7% health insurance rate hike that I was whining about a while ago. Well my inclination is to “scream so loud god pees…” and it certainly gave me a real live case of the “vapors.”

There is an outstanding article in the Boston Globe, August 17, 2007, by Alice Dembner, “Older residents feel insurance law pinch, Age-based prices too high for some.” (Please press here to read the article.)

God bless Alice Dembner. I guess other folks are “screaming so loud that god pees” too.

I know, I know, it is my choice to be self-employed, to pay my own health insurance lo these many decades. But I don’t think any of the small businesses and self-employed people expected this kind of “hit.” And as the article points out:

“Older people shopping for health insurance through the state’s new initiative are discovering a sobering reality: Prices for unsubsidized plans are twice as expensive if you’re 60 than if you’re 27, making insurance unaffordable or barely affordable for many in their later years.”

The article talks about one woman living paycheck to paycheck and that health insurance is 13.6% of her income (and for some, the percentage is a whole lot higher than that, promise).

I have been wandering around Newburyport, MA talking to small business folks and self-employed folks, and the story I keep hearing over and over again is that health insurance is their biggest expense, outweighing housing costs, and their biggest worry.

And to quote the Boston Globe article on one woman’s plight, ” ‘I haven’t been on a vacation for years. Plenty of nights I have popcorn for dinner.’ ”

I don’t think she is alone by any means.

We here in Newburyport, MA have been wringing out hands, quite rightly, about how much we as tax payers pay for municipal health insurance. But, there are a lot of folks who work for the city who don’t make big bucks.

Take the “young lady” who runs the Newburyport Council on Aging, and spends hours, with no overtime, helping folks in need. My recollection is that she doesn’t get paid a whole lot of dough.

And take your friendly average librarian, who works hard, is delightful and isn’t exactly raking it in.

I wouldn’t want any of these folks to have to suddenly absorb 1,000′s of extra dollars, that they could not possibly afford.

I do not have any idea what the answer is, on a municipal level or a small business level. But I think, by all means, I may do my darnedness to continue to “scream so loud” about all this craziness that “god pees…”

Mary Eaton
Newburyport