Letter to the editor: In response to John Goerke

BY ANONYMOUS

As I read “Unconvinced About Obamacare” several times over, I remain unconvinced that Mr. Goerke has any “real life” experience to back up his opinion. The problem here is that students and/or recent graduates may not have a choice as to whether or not they will be on their parents’ health insurance plan due to insufficient income. Show me a part-time job that offers full benefits for students. Show me a student or a recent graduate who is earning enough money to afford a comprehensive plan. Show me a recent graduate who even has a full-time job, for that matter. My liberal arts Bachelor’s degree enabled me to get a salaried position at a non-profit organization just a few months after graduating. Mind you, I can barely afford a place to live; the utilities that come with it; my phone bill; the cost of having, driving, and repairing my vehicle so that I can get to and from work; as well as my student loan debt. What’s left of my scant paychecks go toward feeding myself and now too, the expenses of holidays and traveling to see my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as the gifts that I would like to buy for my parents and siblings.

I will even break down my monthly expenses in terms of my actual pay and the average costs of living in Fargo.  My position offers a salary in which I earn roughly $1,500 a month. Let’s say $500 of that goes to paying rent (a low estimate of what a one-bedroom apartment costs). I write monthly checks for about $30 for utilities, $40 for Internet (which does not include cable), and another $30 for my cell phone bill. I spend about $150 a month on groceries, which does not get me much by way of healthy foods. Filling my twelve-gallon gas tank requires roughly $60.  Multiply that by the three times a month I fill my tank. That takes a $180 chunk out of my dwindling paychecks. Now, add in the $30,000 principle student loan debt. So that I might not be in debt for life, I pay $500 a month to cover some painful interest rates on top of the actual loan. My calculator tells me that I spend about $1,430 a month on what I consider basic needs. That leaves a mere $70 that I chose to put into my measly savings account for emergency expenses, such as the $1,000 I recently forked over to make some repairs on my vehicle. Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway) this budget leaves little room for comprehensive health insurance. Keep in mind, a number of individuals in their early twenties make even less money than I do, making it more difficult to find an affordable health insurance plan.

I think, Mr. Goerke, in getting caught up in the idea of twenty-something’s still relying on parents, missed the part about it being an option for young adults to be on their parents’ health insurance plans, not a requirement by law. What will not be an option, soon enough, is whether or not to participate in health insurance all together. That being said, I could certainly partake in my employer’s health insurance plan. Yet, it offers a fraction of the coverage that my parents receive on their insurance plan. Furthermore, the cost of the monthly insurance fees taken from my paycheck would leave me with even less cash at the end of month, and sending more prayers to any deity listening to please spare me of any unexpected expenses. This option also leaves me paying out-of-pocket for any medical expenses not covered in my employer’s plan, like dental and eye care. That is, if I don’t opt for a stand-alone dental or eye care plan, which would put more pressure on my already bursting budget. Call me selfish, but I like having teeth and the ability to see clearly.

I certainly am not proud of the fact that I rely on my parents in this regard. However, at this time in my life, it’s not so much a safety net as it is a necessity (and the cold, hard reality of being a young adult). A huge part of growing up is knowing how to budget your money, pinching every last penny, and understanding when it’s time to ask for help. This help could also come in the form of young adults relying on government assistance to cover medical expenses (Hello there, Medicaid). I don’t know about anyone else, but I would rather crawl back to mommy and daddy.

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