Answering a question about MNSure, Minnesota's health insurance exchange for those who don't receive affordable health care insurance from their employers or don't qualify for Medical Assistance/MinnesotaCare, Andrew Lang, the endorsed Republican candidate for state senate district 17 told listeners he couldn't afford MNSure.
. . .I've talked to a lot of people door-to-door, and what they're always saying, that's one of their big main concerns is health care has become so expensive, I can't afford it.
I know for myself personally, I can't afford the MNSure program. It would . . . (laughs) It's as much as my mortgage payment. The deductibles are outrageous. I can't afford it. There's no way I can go with it.
Here's the clip:
The cry to the heavens about expensive health care insurance came during a Kandiyohi County Fair forum earlier this month. One can listen to the whole debate here (along with those for the Minnesota House candidates for 17A and 17B).
We grew worried that Andrew Lang and his family might become homeless from having to pay for both "MNSure" and that mortgage, but further investigation revealed that Lang, who works as Supervisor of Parks for Renville County, receives health insurance benefits from his employer (Lang's wife also works for the county). A friend who works in a non-union supervisory position in the county said that the employer-provided insurance for "management" is very good.
While anyone can obtain insurance through MNSure, there's not much point searching for a policy through the exchange if the employer-provided insurance is affordable. Could Lang afford MNSure if his family didn't receive paid health care benefits from an employer? We'll leave that question for when that alternative universe happens.
One has to wonder if Renville County supervisors' insurance is close to AFSCME union members working for the county receive under their contracts, negotiated by Council 65. We dipped into a few of those for Renville County workers and found this language for health insurance benefits across the county:
Why is MNSure too expensive for Andrew Lang? Probably because his existing, quality, employer-provided insurance doesn't cost his family more 9.66 percent of his income, so no tax credits on MNSure for him.
There's also another option for the Lang family as well, since he serves as an officer in the Minnesota National Guard: TRICARE, which offers various plans to Guard members and their families depending upon their status.
Bluestem is all for members of all branches of the military--including the National Guard--receiving quality health care insurance. Our friends who serve are ready to make to ultimate sacrifice--and short of that, spend months away from their families and friends. Health care is the least we owe them.
While county employees aren't asked to make the same sacrifice as those serving in the armed forces, those we know work hard and take pride in helping their communities, so we don't begrudge them the benefits they receive. Indeed, we don't like the race to the bottom that's happened to private sector workers' benefits that in part triggered the need for health care reform.
What we don't have sympathy for is a wannabe lawmaker copping fake empathy about the cost of insurance. Lang should be honest about his own circumstances.
The West Central Tribune reported that the forum "drew a sparse crowd at the fair but was broadcast on KWLM." Let's hope those listening or downloading the audio online apply critical thinking tools to Lang's "feels" about the cost of policies obtainable from private insurance companies in the MNSure exchange.
Photos: Andrew Lang, via the Republican Party of Minnesota (top); screengrab from one of the AFSCME Council 65 contracts with Renville County (bottom)
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