The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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October 7, 2009

<img src="http://www.joplinglobeonline.com/images/zope/extra.gif" border=0>Typical Joplin family would pay $5,625 for premium under one proposal<font color="#ff0000"> w/ health care subsidy calculator</font>

By Susan Redden and Andy Ostmeyer

news@joplinglobe.com

A typical Joplin family — let’s call them the Bumsteads, since that famous comic-strip family lived in Joplin — would pay thousands of dollars annually in health insurance premiums under plans being debated in Washington, D.C.

They then could pay hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars more in deductibles and co-pays, according to a separate analysis.

Legislation advancing in Congress would require all Americans to get health insurance — through an employer, a government program or by buying it themselves. Tax credits for those who sign on to a government program would offset premiums, but the Bumsteads would pay $5,625 per year out of their pocket under one of the leading government plans.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that per capita income last year for the Joplin area averaged $28,429. Per capita personal income includes wages, salaries and benefits paid by employers. It also includes dividend, interest and transfer payments such as Social Security. A two-income family — Blondie and Dagwood both working — would then earn $56,858.

The Health Reform Subsidy Calculator provided online by the Kaiser Family Foundation offers ballpark estimates of what households of varying incomes and ages would pay under different Democratic health care proposals, which are still being revised.

Under a plan advanced by the Senate Finance Committee, the Bumsteads with their two children could expect their annual premium to cost $7,548, with $1,923 coming from a government subsidy. The remaining $5,625, or $468.75 per month, would come from the family.

The Bumsteads would pay 74.5 percent of the premium, and their share would consume 9.9 percent of their overall income.

A different plan, put forth earlier by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, would provide more generous subsidies. Under that plan, the Bumsteads would expect their health insurance to cost $11,995, but the subsidy from the government would be $8,606. That would leave them with a cost of $3,389 per year, or $282.42 per month. The family would pay 28 percent of the total premium, and the family’s share would consume about 6 percent of its income.

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