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FEATURE

What Health Care Reform Means to the Middle Class (Hint: Jobs)





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President Obama, at his Wednesday press conference, talked about the job-loss impact of rising healthcare costs on the middle class. But why the middle class? This recession has hit construction workers, young people, other demographics. It's because the middle class -- and by extension, the overall economy that relies on the middle class (in this case, the middle aged middle class) -- may not be able to recover in the job market without healthcare reform.

You do the math. You reach thirty, you pay more than when you're in your twenties. You reach forty, still more. You reach fifty and, if you don't get a heart attack from a preexisting condition, you may just get one from the substantive increase in your premiums.

Health care providers argue that as people age they require more health care for which they then have to pay. That may very well be true, but in the world of unintended consequences, it also means those fifty-somethings may just be paying in other ways -- include ways that forgo their ability to pay those higher premiums at all.

What does a potential employer do who has to choose between a fifty-something who comes with higher costs for healthcare, despite being a far better qualified candidate, and a twenty or thirty something less experienced applicant who will cost them far less over time in premiums?

The president talked about the "donut hole" that exists for Medicare patients; the requirement to cover all the costs after a certain limit was reached until a far higher limit came into play. This has been a nightmare for many seniors on fixed incomes.

The middle aged may very well have a "donut hole" between their fifties and age sixty-five Medicare eligibility due to the lessening of employment opportunities that come from inflated premiums for their demographic. Continued...

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