Summit Daily letters: Health care and political promises
February 1, 2018
Health care and political promises
Every time I see an article in the Summit Daily about some politician making health care a key campaign topic, I cringe. Remember, the Affordable Health Care Act was supposed to make health care affordable for the majority of American citizens. What our politicians didn't tell you is that it was written by the drug, health care, etc. industry lobbies. Do you think they were going to gore their own ox? It was biased in their favor from the get go.
As a small businessman who has less than 10 employees and pays 60 percent of their dental and health care costs, I can tell you what it did for my employees. It increased their monthly outlay for a single employee by about 25 percent and their minimum deductibles from $1,000 to nearly $3,500 (+250 percent) per year today.
Over the past few months, we have seen SDN articles authored by the likes of Jared Polis, Millie Hamner and Dan Gibbs (all Summit County politicians) telling us how they are fighting for us on health care issues. Have you ever seen articles by them or their associates comparing their dental and health care benefits with those of us everyday citizens? It is time we start asking them these questions and do not stop until they give us meaningful and truthful answers. Why should politicians and government workers have plans superior to those they are forcing on us at higher costs? If the Affordable Health Care Act is so good, why don't they join the rest of us in the same plan?
We have friends here who are also small business owners. We have discussed the health care issues and we would love to have dental and health care plan coverages for our employees similar to those of our politicians. These politicians not only have superior plans, they have a huge divisor population (read number of participants) which none of us in small business have.
Amazon, Birkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan just announced a plan to create a joint company to provide their employees with high-quality, affordable care.
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As taxpayers who help pay these politicians salaries and benefits, we ask the SDN to start asking tough questions of these politicians and then sharing those results with us. Some truly honest investigative reporting on this issue is long overdue.
From my 'high deductible' pocket
I wanted to provide a recent example of the problems with health care costs and services here in Summit County. I am a 59-year-old, self-employed individual living full time in the county. Over the past few years, the cost of my healthcare has increased significantly, while my coverage options are now limited to a very few options. Last year I was forced to go with an HMO (first time in decades), and my premium is now nearly $1400/month with a $6500 annual deductible. No, your eyes are not deceiving you. And unfortunately, significant increases are projected far into the future. This issue predates Obamacare, so let's keep politics out of the discussion.
In addition to increasing costs, my provider options have continued to decline. Anyone who was serviced by High Country Healthcare in Silverthorne, now owned by Centura, knows that all the physicians in that location left last year (only a physician's assistant and an nurse practitioner remained when I made my last appointment early this year). I have liked my doctors at High Country. They are competent and caring. Unfortunately, they are now backed by an organization (Centura) that operates like a monopoly.
I have to visit the doctor once or twice per year to get renewals for my meds, and require blood work annually. Because my physician and all other physicians in the Silverthorne office that I had seen in the past had left, I was forced to move to a new doctor in their Frisco location. The cost for my trouble and disruption, a "new patient" bill for nearly $600. This is my second "new patient" bill in 18 months. And unfortunately, the payment comes directly out of my "high deductible" pocket.
Health care is bankrupting our country and choking our local economy (along with housing). We can only hope that consortiums like the recently announced Amazon/Berkshire/JP Morgan plan to take on healthcare cost and care begins to move us in the right direction.
Perfect storm gets worse in Breckenridge
I know everyone is sick of this topic, but this weekend made it even clearer that the town of Breckenridge is not dealing with their parking problem with the full thought and consideration it deserves.
First, the weather gave us a great gift of much needed snow right before the weekend.
Second, one of the premier events of the season is to be hosted for a shorter period of time than normal — thus causing the hundreds — perhaps thousands of people who normally view the Snow Sculptures to view it in three days rather than the normal nine days.
Third, the weather stayed super-cold enabling the creation of most spectacular sculptures.
All of those events combined to bring more people into town than it can handle. Visitors and locals alike, looking for any parking space tried all the usual spots, then the outlying spots, and in the process created enormous traffic jams. I would hazard a guess to say that at times on Saturday there was not one legal spot available from Colorado Mountain College to the Ice Rink and everywhere in between. Add to that the hundreds of cars circling just waiting to find a spot and you've got a nightmare for visitors who have already traveled hours to get here.
What do they do? They park illegally. Saturday I was parked safely at the end of a row in the Ice Rink. When I got back from skiing — around noon, two cars had illegally parked next to me closer to the back row — past the no parking sign. Even with that, there was plenty of room to get by, every car on the back row could have easily pulled out — there was no obstruction, nor safety issue. And dozens of cars were similarly parked at the end of rows. Each of them had a bright yellow envelope from Breck Park (a for profit company I assume), gleefully passing out $30 tickets to guests who had been invited to our town to view one of our signature events. This weekend must have been a record-breaker for our friends at Breck Park, but it was an embarrassment for the rest of our community.
So back to the full thought and consideration by the town for dealing with this issue:
1. The days for viewing should have been extended until Thursday or Friday so everyone from the Front Range didn't feel compelled to be here over the weekend. Also free up the parking in the far south Dredge lot.
2. Re-look at the number of legal spaces in the Ice Rink lot — I'm guessing there are another two dozen spots that could be accommodated without issues.
3. Show a little grace. We've invited people to our town without having adequate resources to manage them — call off the parking dogs except for extreme violations — like illegally parking in handicap zones, or safety issues, or parking in driveways.
4. Give people a break — give warnings rather than tickets for first time violators.
OK — that's my rant. Sure wish better options were being considered to really solve this problem.
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