Letter: No Safety Net

Thank you from the bottom of my (expensive, dysfunctional) heart for "Health Care Confidential" [cover story, Sept. 17, 2009]. As a self-employed, self-insured individual on a high-deductible health insurance plan, I relate to those authors who have to make practical decisions on health care: Go without? Pay hundreds and thousands in cash while everyone else plops down a $20 co-pay? Argue with the doc about whether or not it's medically necessary? I can't tell you how many times I've begged the doctor to be straight with me: Tell me if this is really important or if you're CYA (as they say in the medical world, otherwise known as making sure you're not sued).

People with independent, high-deductible insurance are underrepresented and marginalized in the health-

care debate. Until your story this week, I never heard anything in the media about the millions of people who do not have employer-sponsored health plans. In the mid-20th century, when Dad went to work and Mom stayed home with the kids, a corporate-sponsored health plan made sense. These days, when so many Americans are self-employed, consulting, working for a small business, or staying at home, making health insurance contingent on employment doesn't make sense. We're not families of the '50s anymore.

I tell people who have cushy employer-sponsored health plans who think we don't need reform that they'll change their tune when I get cancer, my insurance company drops me, and they're raising money for my treatments by throwing pancake suppers. It's scary to know I'm walking a thin wire with no safety net.

Gretchen Roberts

North Knoxville