Health insurance fiasco driven by partisanship

Congress out of touch with struggles of families living paycheck to paycheck

By Ken Esten Cooke— If you are suffering sticker shock from your health insurance renewals, you are not alone. December 1 marked a popular renewal date for companies and individuals, and the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the “can-keep-it, can’t-keep-it” insurance dictums and the overall continuing rise of healthcare and insurance costs is putting a strain on budgets from Gillespie County to Timbuktu.

The ACA, or “Obamacare,” sought to address the continually upward spiral of health insurance costs, currently accounting for one-sixth of our nation’s total gross domestic product (GDP). Our healthcare is good in this country, but is also is far more expensive than any other industrialized nation in the world.

That, along with other rising costs — such as housing, food and transportation — and stagnant wages over the past two decades present a huge challenge to families, so many of whom are still struggling to put money away for themselves even as both husband and wife work.

USA Today on Monday reported this:

“Adjusted for inflation, the median household income — half higher, half lower — is at the same level it was in 1996, and is about 6 percent below 2007 levels. At the same time, consumer prices have risen, and the effects of inflation are cumulative. To buy something that cost $100 in 2007, a consumer today would need $113, a 13 percent increase.

“No wonder consumers feel squeezed. In a period of rising prices and falling incomes, the only real option is to cut back. No wonder, too, you hear steadily rising complaints about low wages for workers at such places as Walmart and McDonald's, especially when those companies are racking up healthy profits.”

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