An accident away from bankruptcy

Published 10:32 pm Wednesday, September 24, 2008

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.


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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.