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Letter: Employer-based insurance not good enough in a pandemic

The job losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in southeast Minnesota have exposed the core weakness of our employer-based health insurance system — no job, no insurance. While people losing jobs can continue the insurance from their old jobs for a while, they have to pay the whole premium (plus 2%) themselves, which most people can’t afford. People losing jobs can get insurance through MNsure, but have to start over with a deductible and co-payments, which are often higher than their old insurance anyway. Also, if people aren’t eligible for subsidies, premiums, especially if they are older, may be unaffordable if they’re not working.

People who don’t have health insurance are more likely to die, let their health problems go untreated and go bankrupt if they have a health emergency than people who have insurance. That’s why the death rate in Americans 65 to 80, when almost everyone has insurance, is lowest of all the Western countries, but it’s much higher for Americans under 65 than in other countries. What do our candidates for Congress say about health insurance?

Dan Feehan’s campaign website says he “will fight for health care and prescription drug coverage that is affordable and accessible for every southern Minnesotan,” which is the position we need our representative in Washington to take. Jim Hagedorn, however, wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cutting off one option for those who have lost their jobs and offers only high-risk pools for those without insurance who have pre-existing conditions, which were limited and very expensive when we had them in Minnesota.

I think health care that is affordable and accessible for every southern Minnesotan sounds good right now. I hope you’ll agree and keep that in mind when you vote this fall.

Mark Liebow