EDMONDS – When Mark Moody and Glenda Krull could no longer afford both health insurance and mortgage payments, the Edmonds couple knew which had to go.
They sold their house.
Moody, 60, had a liver transplant four years ago and may need another. He alone pays $1,345 a month for the most generous policy he can buy from Premera Blue Cross.
And he’s desperate to hang on to it – even though the costly premiums drove his wife to downgrade her own coverage, decimated their retirement savings and, just this month, forced them out of their well-appointed home into a newly purchased house half its size.
For Americans with serious illnesses, even good insurance is no guarantee they won’t go broke and they will get all the medical care they need.
In 2007, nearly two-thirds of all personal bankruptcies filed across the country were linked to illnesses, loss of income or high medical bills, according to a survey published in June by researchers at Harvard University and Ohio University. Of those cases, 78 percent of the debtors had health insurance when they first got sick.
What’s more, even insured people without serious health problems like Moody are struggling to afford increasingly higher deductibles and co-pays that are eroding the value of employer-provided insurance.
Perhaps as much as the plight of the 46 million Americans with no coverage at all, it’s this anxiety – the worries of the medically insured – that’s driving Congress to take on the most ambitious health reform efforts since former President Bill Clinton’s first term.
Until about a year ago, Moody and Krull lived comfortably on her earnings as an associate real estate broker. But despite their income and his seemingly gold-plated coverage, he can’t get either a second organ transplant or an expensive drug that might eradicate his hepatitis C without risking financial peril.
Moody readily acknowledges the clashing self-interests – his included – that are attempting to sway the debate over reforms. Yet he also believes that when insurance slips beyond the grasp of people such as him and Krull, it’s a sign that the country’s health care system has gone seriously awry.
Moody understands that tackling that problem will demand wrenching decisions that the national debate has barely begun to address.
“We don’t necessarily blame anyone,” Moody said. “We’re just asking: What does a person do in a situation like this?