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With Dust Settling, Hoosiers Size Up New Health Care Laws

Following passage of national health care reform legislation, Hoosiers have begun to assess what the new laws will mean for them.

Eddie Deckard

Photo: Arianna Prothero/ WFIU

Eddie Deckard owns DNS Maintenance, a company which fixes and remodels homes. Deckard gets insurance through his wife’s job, but isn’t able to offer it to his employees. He said he and his employees considered a company health care plan, but found that for a company of just seven people, it would likely be cost-prohibitive.

Following passage of national health care reform legislation, Hoosiers have begun to assess what the new laws will mean for them.  But there appears to be one consistent theme: no one really knows how health care reform will affect them.

Nicholas Bannister-Andrews is 29 years old and was previously employed as a web developer with Indiana University.  As far as he knows he’s healthy – and he said that is fortunate.

“I basically don’t go to the doctor at all,” Bannister-Andrews said.

That’s how Bannister-Andrews – and many other unemployed Hoosiers — deal with the fact they don’t have health insurance.

Preexisting Conditions

But fellow Bloomingtonian Chase Potter is not so lucky.  Chase divides his time between two different jobs, neither of which offers him health insurance. That was OK for a while because he was able to get insurance through his ex-partner. However, that relationship has ended – and with it, Potter’s insurance.

But there’s a catch to Potter getting insurance again – he has a pre-existing condition that made it more difficult to get coverage — assuming he could have afforded it in the first place .

“Well, I’m in kind of a rough situation actually.  I’m HIV positive and the medications I’m on are debilitatingly expensive,” Potter said.”  I also had an ER visit on Valentine’s Day, six hours in the emergency room racked up $1,700 of medical bills.”

Potter says he has not been following the health care reform debate because it’s confusing and he’s too busy working and trying to find an insurance provider which will offer him coverage immediately. That overwhelmed feeling is a pre-existing condition Potter shares with, Nicholas Bannister-Andrews.

“It kind of got confusing and I didn’t know where to go to get good updated information,” Bannister-Andrews said.  “Someone I’m following on Twitter was following it, so I kind of got a good run-down of highlights.”

Local Employers Wonder if Laws will Affect Their Bottom Lines

And those trying to decide whether they can afford offer their employees coverage are also trying to make sense of the 2000-plus page bill.

“Well, the health insurance bill.  Let me see, I really don’t know a whole lot about it.  There are not a lot of details that have been explained to me.  Honestly, I don’t know.”

That’s Eddie Deckard, owner of DNS Maintenance, a company which fixes and remodels homes.  Deckard gets insurance through his wife’s job, but isn’t able to offer it to his employees.  He said he and his employees considered a company health care plan, but found that for a company of just seven people, it would likely be cost-prohibitive.

“But the cost was just so extreme.  We’ve checked into it,” Deckard said.  “And I’ve talked to the guys about it, ‘If we get health insurance then I could pay a certain amount, you guys pay a certain amount,’ but none of them opted to do it because of the cost.”

But one thing Deckard is sure about is that he doesn’t care for partisan politics.  What he says he’s most concerned about is running a profitable business, which he knows means attracting the best workers by offering competitive compensation.  Deckard said he’s heard a lot about the bill, but little which tells him whether it’ll benefit his company.

“Well they’re hounding, ‘it’s wrong- it’s going to destroy the country.’ How do I know that?” Deckard said. “I’m not saying I’m Republican I’m not saying I’m Democrat, I’m just saying I’m a bottom line guy- tell me the bottom line: how much does it cost me?  I would like to offer it to the guys.  It would be a plus for me to say, ‘If you work for me you get paid vacation, you get paid holidays, you get insurance- you know, the whole bit.’”

Although Deckard, Bannister-Andrews, and Potter are unsure how health care reform will affect them, they all say they hope it benefits the country as a whole.  Potter said that’s a sentiment he thinks anyone who doesn’t have health insurance can agree with.

“The current options for those of us who can’t afford private insurance or aren’t offered it through jobs it’s really difficult and time consuming to get on that and I think we’re all hoping that this new health care will be a little simpler and a little more available,” Potter said.

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Arianna Prothero

Arianna Prothero started at WFIU as a reporter in May of 2008. She is now the Interim Assistant Radio News Director and, along with her reporting duties, produces WFIU’s Noon Edition and anchors All Things Considered on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Arianna holds her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Political Science with a minor in Russian and Eastern European Studies.

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