Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Dear legislators, Let’s speed things up beyond traffic July 10, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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The words on the tailgate of this pick-up truck photographed several days ago in a Faribault grocery store parking lot illustrate a new Minnesota traffic law taking effect on August 1.

 

COME AUGUST 1, you best not poke along in the left traffic lane on a multi-lane Minnesota highway and hold up traffic. Do so and, if caught, you face a fine under a new law pushed by Senator John Jasinski from Faribault.

When I first heard about efforts to shift slow drivers from the left to the right lane, I thought, we have way more important issues than that to resolve. I still feel that way. I’m more concerned about the high cost of prescription drugs and healthcare and the absurd cost of health insurance ($1,600 in premiums paid by Randy and me every single month with $4,000 individual deductibles).

So there. While moving traffic along may seem of vital importance to legislators, and I do sort of understand the value of the legislation, I fail to understand why something can’t be done about the healthcare cost crisis. Let’s move that issue out of the slowpoke lane into the fast lane of a financially favorable resolution for the consumer.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Turning 55 and fed up with healthcare costs September 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:04 AM
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In 19 days I turn 55.

Recently I received my first birthday greeting, from my health insurance carrier, a well-known Minnesota-based company.

The message wasn’t all that nice.  In fact, I’d say it wasn’t at all thoughtful, not one bit, for a soon-to-be birthday celebrant. My three-month premium is increasing $151, from $878 to $1,029.

The whole correspondence made me so darn mad that I called my husband at work to see if I could still get on the company insurance plan. His employer was switching to a new insurance carrier to try and curb costs. He said he would check and get back to me.

So while he was asking, I was calling my insurer. I got through the first automated voice when my cell phone rang. (Did I mention that I hate those automated systems?) It was my husband calling back, and probably a good thing since at that moment I glanced at my insurance bill and saw the reason for the $151 premium increase:

REASON FOR RATE CHANGE—SUBSCRIBER OR SPOUSE AGE CHANGES

There it was in bold-faced, capitalized letters.

The bill could have included these bold-faced, uppercased letters to project some Minnesota Nice: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUDREY!

My husband shared a dismal message. Coverage through his employer would be $30 higher than my new monthly premium of $342.83. How do they come up with that 83 cents tacked on the end?

My husband’s news sent my anger level soaring off the charts. “What the blankety-blank (not my exact words, but I want to keep this post family-friendly) is going on?” I screeched.

“Welcome to Obama Care,” he said.

I have no idea if rising insurance premiums are related to changes in healthcare policies, but my spouse seems to think so. I didn’t follow healthcare reform because half most of the time I couldn’t understand it anyway. That’s not an excuse, simply the truth.

But I do know this: Way too much—well over $800 a month— of my family’s income is now going toward health insurance premiums for my husband and me, who turns 55 shortly after me. I have a $3,000 deductible and my spouse has a $2,400 deductible.

His employer has been paying about $90 of his monthly premium. Since I’m self-employed, well, every premium cent comes from my pocket.

We rarely visit the doctor because that costs us even more money.

Honestly, I am fed up with the rising cost of health insurance and healthcare and I don’t know what the heck to do about it.

I’ve even thought about dropping my insurance coverage. But I am smart enough to realize that at my age, that would not be a wise decision.

HOW ABOUT YOU? Are you fed up with the rising cost of health insurance premiums and overall healthcare costs? What are you doing to control/cut costs? Share your thoughts by submitting a comment. Feel free to speak your mind. Just use family-friendly language and keep your comments libel-free.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Sick of high healthcare costs November 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:56 PM
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MY HEALTH INSURANCE premium arrived in the mail yesterday. Happy holidays!

Not.

It’s due shortly before Christmas.

Bah! Humbug!

In mid-June, the premium increased from $801 to $813 for three months of coverage. Do the math. That’s $271 per month or $3,252 a year.

I am not happy.

Here’s the deal. I foolishly thought healthcare reform would mean lower premiums and lower costs for medical visits, in other words, more affordable healthcare for families like mine. We are not wealthy. We live in a modest home in a modest neighborhood. We have no debt. We spend carefully and wisely.

But when it comes to health insurance, I believe the word “affordable” cannot fit, cannot even be squeezed, into the same sentence.

I pay $271 a month for coverage with a $3,000 deductible. In other words, my coverage is basically major medical.

I’ve evaluated getting onto my husband’s plan at work. That would cost me even more than the individual policy I have as a self-employed writer. His employer pays only a small portion of his health insurance premium and my spouse, too, has a high deductible.

I haven’t crunched the numbers lately, but my family (which also includes one still-at-home 16-year-old) is forking out a lot of money every month for health insurance.

Yet, we rarely go to the doctor because of the high deductibles and the high cost of healthcare. Cost is a great deterrent for skipping routine exams. I’m just being honest here.

Another problem I face is past medical history. I had total hip replacement surgery in 2008. I will need a new, and very costly, hip in 15 – 20 years. Insurance companies have these policies about pre-existing conditions.  So, even if I was to look for different insurance, the hip would likely be excluded from coverage.

I have no answers to any of this. I just know that I am sick and tired of the high cost of health insurance and of healthcare.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS on the topic and do you have any answers? What are you spending every month on health insurance premiums?

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling