Like many Americans, I don’t have employer-provided health insurance, so I have to buy my own on the private market. I have a plan with a $5,000 annual deductible, which is the only individual plan my insurer—Assurant—offers. (See: “My $800 checkup and the myth of America’s health care ‘open market.'”) I just received my annual letter bearing bad news: my monthly premium is going up, from $126.02 to $135.75.
The good news, though, is that the $116.76 annual increase represents an increase of only (“only”) 8%. Over the preceding three years, my premium had been increasing by an average of 19% per year.
As I projected in a blog post last year, that rate of increase would have put my 2031 monthly premium at—wait for it—$4,086.73. This year’s relatively modest increase puts the average annual growth of my premium, over the period 2009-2012, at 15%. If my premium keeps growing at an average of 15% each year, here’s what my monthly payments will be.
Going from an annual increase of 19% to an annual increase of 15% means that in 19 years, I’d be paying less than half of what I previously projected that I’d be paying.
Of course, this is all just numbers—but numbers are real when they’re coming out of your checking account every month. The reality is that my health insurance premium has increased by over 50% since 2009; I’ll be paying $561.36 more for my health insurance this year than I did in 2009. Needless to say, I’m not making 50% more than I was in 2009. Both in our national economy and in my personal economy, health care costs are continuing to rise at an unsustainable rate.
That said, simply slowing the growth of health care costs by a few percentage points can make a huge difference—as seen above. That’s why I support President Obama’s health care reform agenda: costs need to be curbed and shared more equitably, and care, including life-saving preventative care, must be guaranteed for all.
Though I don’t support Mitt Romney’s candidacy, I like to believe he’d approve of my personal responsibility: I’m paying for my own health care expenses. If my premium continues to rise at this rate, though, how can I? Under Romney’s plan, if costs don’t stop rising, I’d be forced to drop my health insurance sometime in the next ten years unless my income rises dramatically, and if I got sick, I’d have no recourse. But then, why would I deserve a recourse? It would be my own damn fault, in Romney’s apparent view, for being so lazy that I failed to triple my income in ten years’ time. I guess I could crawl off and die in a ditch, and the country would be better off.
I’m not whining; I’m not complaining. I’m working hard and paying my own way, because I can. For now.