Access to quality, affordable healthcare is an issue for millions of Americans, including myself. I grew up in a large ranch family west of Three Forks, Montana. My parents couldn’t afford health insurance, so we got by without. Luckily nobody was seriously injured or contracted a major illness. Today, like other self-employed individuals and small business owners, my wife and I struggle with the costs of a high-deductible insurance policy.
Just having a health insurance policy doesn’t mean Montana residents are protected from financial disaster or hardship because of a serious accident or illness. Many of us are “under-insured.” That’s a fancy way of saying our policy deductibles are far too high in relation to income. With deductibles often at $5,000 to $8,000 per person, individuals and families with health insurance must still pay for healthcare. Many working households don’t have $8,000 socked away to pay their deductible without incurring financial hardship. As a result, they avoid seeking treatment for conditions which then become much more serious.
- Cost Containment: Health care consumes far too much of the average worker’s wages or a small business owner’s bottom line. Savings from cost containment must give relief to patients and their families.
- Incentives for Healthier Americans: People need real incentives to care for their physical health and well-being. Programs in the workplace, in public education and the personal arena that make people healthier could be tied to financial incentives, such as reduced insurance premiums. Healthier people are more productive and happier. It’s also easier to keep a healthy body healthy.
- Protections for Rural Healthcare: Numerous rural hospitals have closed in the past few decades. As small towns across Montana struggle to attract medical professionals and modern medical equipment, small clinics that offer basic care and emergency services have already closed or are under threat in our small towns. Local healthcare is essential to keeping our rural communities viable places for families and businesses. Rural Montanans should have local access to quality healthcare.