Column: Choosing between a roof over your head, and health insurance

'Raising Prescott'

The astronomical cost of health insurance in today’s society has parents and their families from all walks of life seriously questioning whether they can afford it.

Open enrollment has begun across the country for individual and employer-provided insurance plans for the 2018 calendar year. I recently sat in on my own company’s meeting. It was the first time I wasn’t just looking to cover myself, but my entire family.

It scared me.

New research from eHealth revealed individual health insurance premiums have increased 99 percent since 2013, a mere three years after the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was signed into law. Over that same time period, family premiums have skyrocketed, increasing 140 percent.

The average family health insurance premium (family of four) came in at a whopping $1,021 during the first two months of open enrollment in 2017, according to the research.

In 2013, that number was just $426.

So basically, a working parent (or both parents) of a four-person family is paying not one, but two mortgages. One for the house and one to keep their family healthy. That’s assuming they own a house to begin with in this economy.

That’s the brutal truth.

So what are our options?

Depending on a family’s financial situation, state health insurance through AHCCCS is available. The Arizona Children’s Health Insurance Program may also be available, which needs congressional approval to be extended through 2018.

As it stands, Arizona will run out of money for the program at the end of this year.

With that, parents may choose to enter the marketplace and select a plan from likely only one over-priced provider, go with their company’s health insurance option, or drop coverage altogether and hope nothing major happens.

Each family, including my own, will make the best decision possible with the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s just sad it had to come to this, because as parents, our No. 1 concern is protecting our children, and forcing us to pick between a roof over our head and the ability to go to a doctor is about as un-American as it gets.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at bbergner@prescottaz.com or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.