ROMNEY TAKES HEALTHCARE REFORM ON THE ROAD
Meets with Plymouth couple to detail the benefits of affordable health insurance plan
One day after filing healthcare reform legislation, Governor Mitt Romney visited the Plymouth home of a 55-year-old part-time environmental consultant and his wife who are feeling the squeeze of the high cost of health insurance.
Romney sat down at the kitchen table with Richard and Linda Rothstein to explain how his reforms of the Massachusetts healthcare system could lower insurance costs for them and thousands of others like them.
"Because of the high cost of health insurance, some people choose to go without or end up paying more than they can afford," said Romney. "My proposal will make it easier for small businesses and individuals like Richard Rothstein to purchase affordable and quality health insurance."
Yesterday, Romney filed legislation that will enable private insurers to offer a comprehensive health insurance product costing approximately $200 a month, compared to the current $350 average for small group products and over $500 average for non-group products depending on a person's age. This will provide small businesses and individuals without insurance expanded choice at a lower cost.
Richard Rothstein may be an individual who will benefit from the Romney plan. He works two days a week as an environmental consultant, but his semi-retired status prevents him from obtaining healthcare coverage under his employer's insurance plan. Not wishing to be without insurance, he pays nearly $400 a month out of his own pocket for COBRA, a monthly expense he finds increasingly hard to afford on a fixed income. His wife, Linda, qualifies for a Social Security disability benefit and, therefore, receives her healthcare through Medicare.
Richard Rothstein's COBRA will expire in December. At that time, he will only be eligible to buy insurance in the highly regulated non-group market, which will cost him in the range of $700 to $850 per month. Under the Governor's plan, with insurers permitted to design a quality insurance plan at a lower price, Richard could expect to pay around $300 per month. If Richard purchases this insurance product through his employer using pre-tax dollars as Romney's plan encourages, it will effectively cost him around $225 per month. Not only will Richard save money over his current monthly insurance payment, but he will also avoid the prohibitive costs of the non-group market.
"People like me are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to health insurance," Richard Rothstein told Romney. "It's hard to justify paying thousands of dollars annually for individual health insurance coverage if you are working on a part-time basis and have other monthly bills to pay."
"I would be very interested in a lower cost plan that has a higher deductible, especially since my current coverage is up at the end of the year," Rothstein added. "I'm paying close attention to Governor Romney's proposal because it could be a really good option for me."
Approximately seven percent, or 460,000, of Bay State residents currently do not have health insurance. Of those, 168,000 have household incomes greater than 300 percent of the federal poverty level and should be able to purchase some form of health insurance. Many of these individuals are employed by small businesses that do not offer health insurance, or they are part-time or contract workers not eligible for benefits through their job.
Under Romney's legislation, the new insurance plans, developed by private insurance companies, will be high quality and offer comprehensive coverage.
Romney's bill also establishes a new entity, the Commonwealth Care Exchange, to facilitate the pre-tax payment of premiums by working individuals, resulting in a 15 to 30 percent savings off their insurance bill depending on income. Using pre-tax dollars will enable working individuals to purchase the new plans for an effective cost of between $134 and $160 a month.
Romney's Commonwealth Care plan also addresses signing up individuals who are eligible for Medicaid, but not currently enrolled. Later this summer, he will unveil a plan for the working poor and long-term unemployed.