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Md. couple: Health costs may kill business

WASHINGTON — The struggle to maintain affordable health care coverage may end a Maryland family’s 14-year “good run” of operating their own businesses.

Silver Spring residents Cynthia and Eric Cathcart detailed how American middle-class families are suffering because of the high cost of health insurance at a news conference in the Capitol Tuesday. They were joined by Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Kay Hagan, D-N.C.; Ted Kaufman, D-Del.; Paul Kirk, D-Mass.; and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

Eric Cathcart, 53, may have to “let it go” and “join a large organization”  — forgoing his Potomac Talent LLC and other businesses — because the self-employed, middle-class family cannot afford the rising cost of health insurance, he said.

“The economy is working against me, so I just can’t afford to pay more for insurance,” Cathcart later said.

The family looked into joining a musicians’ union in hopes of getting cheaper rates, but found they’d pay $1,700 a month under the group plan, according to Cynthia Cathcart, 50.

So the Cathcarts applied to two different insurance companies. One rejected Eric, while the other turned down their son Alex, 19, because of their pre-existing conditions — obesity and mild autism, respectively, the family said.

The family ended up getting coverage through two policies — Eric Cathcart under one and his wife, son and their other son Brian, 17, under another, paying about $700 a month for premiums, he said.

The expense of health insurance is “setting up two classes of people — people who have it and people who don’t,” Cynthia said.

Middle-class families like the Cathcarts motivate the lawmakers to “make sure we get it done sooner rather than later,” said Cardin, referring to the Democrats’ efforts to pass health care reform legislation by the end of the year.

The Senate is awaiting analysis from the Congressional Budget Office on its health care reform legislation, Cardin said.

The House passed its health care bill Nov. 7, 220-215. Maryland Reps. Frank Kratovil, an Eastern Shore Democrat, and Roscoe Bartlett, a Republican representing Western Maryland, voted against the legislation.

“The House-approved Democratic bill is a prescription for worse health care for all Americans,” Bartlett said in an e-mail message. “According to a new study released by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the House bill would increase the cost of health care, reduce health care services for senior citizens and reduce access to care for many middle-income Americans.”

Cardin underscored the urgency of health care reform, saying 230 Marylanders lose their health care coverage every day.

Also, 71 percent of Marylanders are insured through one or two companies, according to Cardin.

“That’s not competitive,” Cardin said. “We need more choice in order to protect middle-income families in America.”

Cardin also said health care reform will help small business owners and self-employed workers stay in business, bringing down the unemployment.

“This is about saving jobs, this is about economic growth,” Cardin said. “Health care is draining our economy.”

The Democratic senators held a similar news conference last week with Mark Derbyshire, of Aberdeen, who owns Park Moving and Storage.

One comment

  1. What a sham!

    The obvious answer to the very real problem of rising health care costs is to remove the straitjacket of regulations that prevent the health care industry from competing for the business of people like the Cathcarts.

    First, allow for insurers to compete across state lines so there businesses and families have far more options to choose from and competition for their business.

    Second, make it more attractive for young and healthy individuals to purchase a health plan with tax incentives and the ability to purchase catastrophic coverage, helping to offset the costs of persons with conditions that are expensive to insure.

    Third, encourage greater competition for health care business by allowing more providers to enter the health care practice. Increase the number of doctors and nurses by expanding the residency and medical school slots available and allow immigration of the finest doctors from other countries into the United States. Regulations can be modified which would allow for medical practices to innovate with the use of nurse practitioners and para-professionals.

    Finally, move away from an insurance-based model of health care and toward a free-market approach where consumers can decide for themselves the types of coverages and benefits they want. Studies have proven that when consumers pay out of pocket for care, they are much smarter about the quality and frequency of care.

    The approach being rammed down the throats of the American people by Democrats in Congress is like swatting a fly with an elephant gun. It will wreck the quality of health care in this country and bankrupt the United States Treasury and, ultimately, people like the Cathcarts will end up with poor or non-existent coverage as government is forced to ration health care to ever greater degrees in an effort to keep costs down.

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