To the Journal editor:
Today, more than 1 million Michiganders cannot afford health insurance and do not receive this benefit from their employer.
With the average yearly cost of health insurance exceeding $10,000, it is simply not reasonable to expect low-income workers to pay for a private insurance policy on an annual salary of $15,282 for individuals, or $31,322 for a family of four (133 percent of the federal poverty level).
What's more, just 39 percent of small employers in Michigan (those with fewer than 50 employees) offer health insurance to their employees, and, according to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly 3 million adults in Michigan work full-time at minimum-wage jobs often barely making ends meet. The fact stands: Too many Michganders work full-time and still cannot afford health insurance.
On Sept. 3, our state legislature courageously adopted a bill to address the problem of health care inequity. With a bipartisan majority deciding it was time to expand Medicaid eligibility to low-income workers, Michigan has joined 24 other states and the District of Columbia in extending affordable primary and preventive health care options to low-income workers at no additional expense to the State budget over the next 20 years.
Passage of House Bill 4714 means that 2,839 people who are currently uninsured in Marquette County will become eligible to receive health coverage through Michigan's Medicaid program.
Thank you, state Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, and state Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, for doing the right thing for our community, its residents, and for improving the overall health of our state's residents.