LETTER: Entrepreneurs need affordable health care options

Friday, September 4, 2009 | 2:28 p.m. CDT; updated 1:02 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm upset about the current state of health care affordability in America, and I want you to know why. Twelve years ago I started my own small business creating software for scientific applications. My client, another small business, manufactures laboratory equipment and markets it worldwide.

They now have installations using my software from China to Germany, and from sea level to the mountains of Tibet. While most of America is busy sending money to China hand over fist, we actually bring cash back to Missouri in return for lab equipment.

Unfortunately, when I left a larger firm to pursue my dream, I lost all purchasing clout once my COBRA expired. As far as insurance companies are concerned, I'm a second-class citizen with no negotiating power and must pay whatever they demand. Despite staying healthy and making little use of the system, I am charged nearly $4,000 per year for medical insurance that has so far paid me nothing. The deductible is so high that I never collect benefits, and premiums are eating much of the profit from my business.

I only hope that if I do suffer an illness or injury and need coverage, the insurer will not toss me out like yesterday's newspaper.

I recently found better, cheaper coverage in a plan offered through my professional association. It had more benefits and would have saved me at least a hundred a month; however, I was declined due to hemochromatosis.

It's a genetic condition related to iron absorption that is easy and inexpensive to treat, but can be life threatening if not managed. So now I am discriminated against, not for making bad choices, but because of my genetic makeup and because I chose to leave a larger employer and create new business for products made in America. What's wrong with this picture?

I ask that everyone be given the same opportunity to purchase affordable coverage, so I can be on an even footing instead of the "winners and losers" system we have now. I know someone is going to gripe if we do enact reform, since some who work for a large organization now pay less for better coverage. And maybe insurance companies would make less money than they do now. My heart bleeds for them — no, wait! Bleeding would be a medical problem, wouldn't it? I can't risk that or I might lose my coverage.

I really don't care whether the plan involves public or private operation. Am I afraid of a government run plan? No — it would probably be better than what I have and no less efficient. I already have other people deciding whether I can afford medical procedures, so stories about bureaucrats determining what treatment I receive don't scare me. Medicare looks pretty good to me now. Unfortunately I am years away from eligibility. I hear Congress has a pretty good medical plan — how about letting me in?

I can't afford to make large campaign contributions, but I do vote. Please get past the arguments and delays and enact meaningful reform of our health care delivery system, so it will be there without bankrupting me, when and if I should need it.


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