Looking forward to using ObamaCare for insurance

I found The Hill’s Aug. 19 article regarding recently finalized health insurance rates in Colorado to be very misleading (“Premiums to rise for cheapest health plans in Colo.”). As 27-year-old woman who’s looked at individual plans in Colorado, I can assure that I couldn’t find plans for anything close to $56/month, and that the cheap ones I did find had such high deductibles and limited coverage that they weren’t worth considering. I can’t afford to risk going bankrupt just because of a car accident or because I get a serious illness. The plans that will offer coverage starting in 2014 will provide much more coverage with limits on out-of-pocket expenses, no lifetime or annual monetary limits on coverage and preventive visits free of additional cost-sharing.

The same source for this article shows that the median cost for coverage of young adults is closer to $200/month, so $135/month for catastrophic coverage that provides better benefits than similar plans available now certainly doesn’t seem like “rate shock” to me. The article also left out the financial assistance those of us who make less than $46,000 a year will receive thanks to ObamaCare. The lower your income, the more help you’ll receive. That will help lots of us currently uninsured Coloradans get the coverage we need.

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As a young — and thankfully healthy — Coloradan, I am looking forward to enrolling in October through Colorado’s new marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado, and having access to better plans with better coverage, and financial assistance to help me pay monthly premiums. I will no longer face unpredictable costs when I see my doctor. It is not too much to ask to get the care you need when you need it.

From Marykate O’Brien, Denver

Tax reform should close loopholes for big firms

In The Hill’s recent story on Sen. Max Baucus and Rep. Dave Camp’s corporate tax reform tour (“Baucus, Camp make fourth stop on tax reform tour,” Sept. 9), the reporter catches an important fact about FedEx, the legislators’ corporate host at their stop in Memphis: The company “is part of two corporate coalitions — RATE and ACT — that are seeking to overhaul the corporate tax system.” In other words, FedEx is already working hard to influence its guests — the visit formalizes what has been going on behind the scenes. But the story misses a point that has not yet been widely reported: that FedEx has paid only 4.2 percent in federal taxes over the past five years, according to an analysis of the company’s filings by Citizens for Tax Justice.

FedEx CEO Fred Smith has been outspoken in calling for a reduction in the corporate tax rate, and apparently he commands the attention of both chairmen. However, the example of FedEx does not demonstrate that corporate taxes should be lower. Instead, it shows that corporate loopholes should be closed so companies like FedEx are forced to compete on a level playing field and to pay their fair share to help support the U.S. infrastructure that makes them profitable.

From Frank Clemente, executive director, Americans for Tax Fairness, Washington, D.C.


Congress must not ignore tax havens

Tax-writing chiefs Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) visited Intel recently and talked about the need to give these large companies a boost (“Baucus, Camp road show lands in Bay Area,” Aug. 20). That should not mean that tax haven loopholes used by Intel, and 81 of the other top 100 corporations, ought to remain legal. When wealthy individuals and large corporations dodge their taxes, we are left to pick up the tab.

With Congress scrambling to fix the budget, we need to pressure our elected leaders to end offshore tax loopholes that ultimately cost the public $150 billion a year, funds that could be better used in just about every other way. We certainly should not have to cut public priorities so that large, profitable corporations like Wells Fargo, Intel and Microsoft can keep their lucrative loopholes.

When choosing between eliminating public programs or increasing the debt and ending corporations’ ability to dodge taxes, the choice is simple. Urge your representatives to close tax loopholes. 

From Jamie Woo, Washington, D.C.


Combine technology, diet to battle obesity crisis

Innovative efforts by America’s medical device and biotech companies to help solve our nation’s crippling obesity problem (“Despite the hype about healthy eating, we’re losing the war on obesity,” (The Hill’s Congress Blog, Sept. 3) are to be lauded. Let’s hope that their determination and discoveries help the many Americans who are suffering the health consequences of what may now be our country’s most entrenched chronic disease.

At the same time, let’s not forget that without an intensive and sustained effort to prevent obesity — by changing our culture of unhealthy lifestyles to one that embraces regular physical activity and healthy, wholesome eating habits — we will forever be seeking a cure.

Healthy eating is not hype. Coupled with regular exercise and a physically active lifestyle, it is the backbone for maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being.

From Helen Durkin, J.D., executive vice president of Public Policy at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, Boston