Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Monday, August 29, 2005

It's About Time to Give Up...

...the battle on universal health insurance. Especially in New York, taxpayers are footing the bill for a huge Medicaid program that provides coverage well in excess of other comperable states. The Upstate Blog is well versed in the subject. I'd like to point out the disservice this is to the low-wage non-retired non-parent.

Medicaid and Family Health Plus are New York's plans for the "poor" in the state. FHP has slightly higher income limits and offers service with few if any co-pays. The next level up, Healthy NY, is basically traditional health insurance, with the associated costs and restrictions. Let's take the case of someone who barely makes it past the line.

The maximum weekly income for FHP is $184 a week. At minimum wage, that amounts to about 31 hours. Since retail can vary hours anywhere from 4 to 40 hours, it's entirely possible to make this amount. Taking out taxes and witholdings, that leaves you with about $160 a week. For the princely sum of $130 a month, you can get Healthy NY , which offers:

Inpatient hospital services
$500 copay

Surgical services
20% or $200 copay

Outpatient surgical facility
$75 copay

Emergency services (waived if admitted to the hospital)
$50 copay

Prenatal services
$10 copay

Well-child visits/ Immunizations

All other services
$20 copay

And they don't even cover:

Mental Health Services
Alcohol & substance abuse treatment
Chiropractic coverage
Physical Therapy
Hospice care
Home Health Care

With your $160 paycheck, $130 represents 19% of your income. That's just for one person. That's hard to swing when 45% goes to rent and35% goes to food. Let's not forget your car or utilities or every other emergency that the poor are prone to without a support system. In the 40 hour workweek, insurance will take different bites. And no, this does not include prescription drugs like Medicaid.

$6/hr = 15%
$7/hr = 13%
$8/hr = 11%
$9/hr = 10%
$10/hr = 9%

If you work 30 hours a week at NYS minimum wage (and have less than $12000 in assets), lucky for you. You can get FHP for free. Services include:

physician services;
inpatient and outpatient hospital care;
prescription drugs and smoking cessation products;
lab tests and x-rays;
vision, speech and hearing services;
rehabilitative services (some limits apply);
durable medical equipment;
emergency room and emergency ambulance services;
behavioral health and chemical dependence services (which includes drug, alcohol and mental health treatment - some limits apply);
diabetic supplies and equipment;
hospice care;
radiation therapy, chemotherapy and hemodialysis; and
dental services (if offered by the health plan).

I say screw it. Just make everyone in the state pay for one health plan on a sliding income scale. We're doing it anyway. Except it's not on much of a sliding scale. It's more like jumping off a cliff equal to $184 a week.


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