View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Health Care Reform: A Barber's Hairy Situation

I stopped by my barber's this morning - open house time at school!

She's been in operation about 2 1/2 months. The fellow she bought the shop from had let it run down before he left, and she is struggling to build it back up.

We chatted as she clipped. Health care reform came up.

In about two months, she will no longer be covered by the health insurance plan she is currently under, and due to the slow start of the business she said she may have to go without insurance for a while because she won't be able to afford it unless her business increases dramatically.

So here we have a entrepreneur who is facing some difficult financial choices.

Now some might argue that she should just give up her business if it's not making a go and go back to working for another barber - if she can find someone to hire her. Or get out of that business entirely. The marketplace rules!

I suppose. But then I recalled an old health insurance idea that I've heard suggested periodically.

What if the laws were changed to allow insurance to cross state lines, and for associations to form to provide group insurance? Imagine a network of barbers - or of small business operators - able to form such an association and buy insurance together? They would save money. And save us money as well, for if they go without insurance, get hurt and go to the hospital, guess who foots the bill?

There are probably many small-business people like her, struggling to keep up payments for health insurance, or even gambling and going without because they can't afford it. Add on to that young people just starting out, full-time employees who work for low wages for businesses that don't offer some health insurance plans, people who survive by working several part-time jobs, people who have lost their jobs and face COBRAs, and more.

I favor some form of health insurance reform to make sure people get covered. If it's not some comprehensive plan as some government folks are dreaming or scheming (depending on your point of view), why not seek changes in the laws to allow for some practical solutions for now?

Of course, given the way government works, even if something can be changed, it may take a long time for it to trickle down to a lowly barber in Gates NY. She could be out of business by then. And I'll have to find another barber.

Maybe I need to get my hair cut there more often.


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