Martha Hicks: Educate yourselves on health care
I retired three years ago after teaching for 30 years in Virginia’s public schools. I have a pension, for which I am grateful, through the Virginia Retirement System. The benefits from that pension were partly paid for by me when I began to teach, then my school system took over the payments. While teaching I did pay for part of my health insurance.
Now I pay all my health-care premiums, as well as dental, and the costs have risen dramatically in just three years. The total cost for both health and dental are nearly a quarter of my pension (and continuing to rise yearly). The costs are only a quarter of my pension because I have had to increase my deductible to afford it.
I work a part-time job to make ends meet, and I cannot imagine not being employed or active. I am so lucky to be able to continue to work, collect a pension that I deserve and live life to the fullest. While lucky, I am, like many other Americans, an accident or illness away from bankruptcy and financial ruin.
My sister is in her second year post chemotherapy and radiation, and I know she is concerned about her health-care coverage as well. She is still employed and has great insurance, but she couldn’t leave her job because her new health-care program might deny her coverage due to pre-existing health conditions.
My sister and I are not just isolated exceptions, but part of the growing trend that unfortunately has become the norm in health-care coverage in this country. About 50 days from now, my sister and I will be joining with millions of others in making the most important choice of elected leaders in more than a generation. I hope everyone will educate themselves on the health care plans of the presidential candidates. Health care needs to be affordable, accessible and comprehensive.