NET LOSS: Brian Loftes, a commercial fisherman for 30 years, says that the expense of health insurance is equal to another mortgage payment and is currently costing him $16,000 annually.
PBN PHOTO/BRIAN MCDONALD
By Rhonda Miller PBN Staff Writer
Lindalee Jordan has diabetes. She has no health insurance. Still, she considers herself pretty lucky.
“Thankfully, my medicine can be in generic form. I take pills,” said Jordan, who lives in South Kingstown with her husband, fisherman Jim Jordan, and their teenage daughter.
When Jordan got a tick bite last year and thought she might have Lyme disease, she went to the emergency room, with the tick. “The doctor saw me in the emergency room for five minutes. I didn’t have a test for Lyme disease. It was too soon to take a test. That was $1,000,” said Jordan, who adds it would cost her about $1,500 a month for a family health plan.
“We’re just trying to make enough to sustain [her husband’s] boat and $1,500 a month is a lot of money,” Jordan said. “If the boat needs an engine, I wouldn’t have the money if I’m paying for health insurance. We have two people as crew on the boat, and they don’t have health insurance,” she said.
“I think about 70 percent of the people who work on boats, the crew members, out of Point Judith don’t have insurance,” she added. “Health insurance should be the norm, but now it’s unattainable.”
For Rhode Island fishermen and others who are self-employed or own a small business, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that goes into effect in January 2014 offers hope. That’s when everyone will be required to have health insurance.
But no one is quite sure yet exactly how it will change, or what the cost and the coverage will be.
“This is a new process, and there are a lot of questions out there,” said Ian Lang, spokesman for the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange, still a work-in-progress as it heads for the federally mandated Oct. 1 launch of the sign-up period, the preparation for the beginning of coverage in January.
“We will talk with the fishing community, and many communities and individuals, over the next few months so they can have their questions answered,” said Lang.
“The health exchange that’s being created through the Affordable Care Act is a marketplace where small businesses and individuals can compare plans and purchase insurance,” Lang said. “It will be online and there will be a physical presence where people can call or come in.”