Before I launch into my rant on today's topic, let me just tell you about the beautiful sunset I enjoyed this evening as I left the store. It was huge, it was amazing, it was gorgeous. I noticed, as I walked down the hill toward the harbor, that the sky was a really lovely pinky-purply-amethyst color; the buildings on the far side of the harbor wore a rosy glow. As I drove west, I noticed that the clouds low on the horizon created a sort of upside-down ocean surface, colored in bright orange, hot pink, dark purple. It was wonderful, a joy and a good way to end the day.
I got right wound up first thing this morning, though. Paying bills, I noticed that my health insurance bill had gone up a bit. A note in the "message area" of the bill indicated that the increase was due to a problem with the Dirigo Health Act.
A couple of years ago, Maine scrambled together this government program that would help provide affordable health insurance for small businesses and for uninsured persons. I know a lot of people who don't have health insurance, because it costs so much. I try to help out my employees buy providing a modicum of health insurance coverage for them. I know how much health insurance costs, and I commend the idea of trying to provide affordable health insurance. I chose to provide health insurance through a plan other than Dirigo Health, because the plan I chose had more extensive coverage for only slightly more money.
Problem is, the well-intentioned government program didn't work. In the planning stages, apparently, it was determined by Somebody (don't know who; it might have been a group of angry, over-caffeinated monkeys hypped up on Twinkies for all I know) that in order for the program to be financially solvent, X number of people and/or small businesses needed to sign up and participate in it. No contingency was made in case the right X number of people failed to queue up. Unfortunately, the number of people who actually signed up to participate fell FAR SHORT of the number needed to participate in order to keep the program from going broke. But, it's a government program. It can't just go broke and go out of business. Somebody has to pay for it, and you're right: this Somebody who pays is not the same Somebody alluded to earlier.
The government said to the insurance companies allowed to do business in Maine, "Hey, you guys have to pick up the difference! Pay up!" and the insurance companies just laughed and handed over a wad of cash to buck up the broken government program. The insurance companies knew where the money was really coming from. They'd just crank up the premiums of their customers (that would be Me. and You.)
They call it some kind of Dirigo Health Act "Offset Payment". I call it a "Tax". I also do not remember anyone asking me if it was okay with me if I paid for a government program, that I never signed up for or benefited from, which ran out of money. (Can you say "taxation without representation"?)
So the upshot is, everyone in Maine who pays for health insurance through a company other than Dirigo Health now has had their premium upped by a small percent. Which we have to pay, or lose our health insurance. There is no recourse.
Yes, it is a small percent. Yes, I am glad that some who are uninsured are now insured (although, the number of people previously uninsured who are now insured is ridiculously low compared to the ridiculously high cost of this program -- if I had the specific figures at hand I would quote them, and it would astound and frighten you. I read them, and it astounded me.) My share of this "Offset Payment" for Unique One's health insurance plan amounts to slightly over $625.00 per year.
Hmmmmm. Six hundred twenty-five dollars, a little more than that, actually. That would buy me a damn fine spinning wheel, if I didn't already have FIVE wheels. Or, it would purchase enough 100% cashmere yarn from Italy to knit two sweaters. It would buy a couple of Dale of Norway sweaters. It would pay for someone to take the train from Boston to Maine, and go on a knitting cruise for 3 days in June.
But, nah. You know that $625+ dollars wouldn't have gone home in my pocket anyway. I'm not the one who's suffering because I don't have that $625+ dollars to spend now. You know who really gets the short end of the stick? You do, gentle reader, if you're a Unique One customer. That $625 is a couple orders of needles I now can't order from Bryson Distributing. Or, it's an entire gorgeous order of to-die-for handpainted yarns from Alchemy Yarns. Maybe it's two furniture-sized boxes of Lamb's Pride Worsted I won't be ordering from Brown Sheep Company. Perhaps it's 2 or 3 copies of every new knitting or crochet book being published in the next six months, which I usually receive via an auto-ship program from my book distributor, and which I am now pondering whether I can afford to do that. It could be all the new buttons I would order in the next 2 years. It's my electric bill for a couple months in the summer (damn that air conditioning, anyway). It's a bonus that somebody on my staff won't be getting at Christmas. (Don't worry, I wouldn't be that mean!) (Victoria!)
That leaves me with the job of deciding which part of your knitting fun I have to cut out. Still, we had a pretty sunset tonight. And some people have insurance who didn't before. I don't mind paying taxes; I guess I just don't like having taxes ramrodded down my throat. They do not taste any better or hurt less by being named "Offset Payments".
Sorry for the rant, folks! Love ya! Thanks for reading! Please accept my apologies if I angered anyone!