People Need Public Health Insurance Option

Sentinel — Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Letters to the Editor

As a college student slated to graduate in two years, the rising costs of health care are alarming. I worry that I and my peers — despite working hard to develop the skills and credentials necessary to thrive independently — will not be able to secure the medical coverage that we need.

As health costs rise, more employers are unable to afford decent coverage for their employees. Employer based insurance has steadily declined in the face of rising costs; between 2000 and 2006, the percentage of Americans with employer-based insurance fell from 64.2 percent to 59.7 percent. Health care that is provided in the workplace is less and less likely to be comprehensive — covering all our medical needs including vision and dental care. Out-ofpocket expenses increased by 34 percent from 2004 to 2007. In New Jersey alone, approximately 1.5 million residents spend 10 percent of their pretax income on medical expenses.

I cannot fend for myself on the individual market. My pre-existing condition will force me to settle for a plan with high out-ofpocket costs and exclusions, or to go without coverage altogether. As a woman of childbearing age, I may face discriminatory prices, higher than those paid by my male peers. This is unacceptable. It is my right to have access to decent, affordable health insurance that covers my health-care needs.

The Health Care for America Now (HCAN) campaign is working to pass national health care reform in 2009 that guarantees quality, affordable health care for all. I support HCAN because I believe that quality, affordable health care and the choice of a public or private insurance plan should be available to us all — especially for those without access to good employer based coverage. A public health insurance option needs to be made available to ensure that I, and people like me, do not fall through the cracks.

Sarah Buonacore
Member of the Health Care for America Now Campaign

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