Gregg Wagnerâ€™s health insurance sets him back $450 a month. The 43-year-old Louisville Realtor is a single, independent businessman, pretty much the worst model for affordable healthcare in America. And while myriad mitigating factors cause insurance premiums to fluctuate vastly, Wagnerâ€™s bill is more than twice the national average for a single person not covered by an employer.
Rather than become one of more than 45 million Americans who lack insurance, however, Wagner bites the proverbial bullet every month.
â€œI guess I just donâ€™t understand why self-employed people cannot band together with their trade and do what other businesses do,â€ he said Monday, referring to federal law that prohibits, for instance, a group of Kentucky Realtors from joining forces for a discount rate similar to what businesses receive.
Wagner is one of more than a handful who will â€œtestifyâ€ this Saturday morning at Calvary Episcopal Church during an event being billed as a Citizensâ€™ Congressional Hearing. Co-sponsored by Kentuckians for Single-Payer Healthcare and the state chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, the event is to promote U.S. Rep. John Conyersâ€™ HR 676, a bill that would create a single-payer healthcare system by extending Medicare to the entire population.
Single-payer, in essence, is a system by which the federal government would fund healthcare through modest tax increases.
Third District Metro Council representative Mary Woolridge said Monday that sheâ€™d like the Council to pass a resolution endorsing HR 676. At least 10 Louisville unions have already formally endorsed the bill.
Saturdayâ€™s hearing starts at 10:30 a.m. and is part of a national network of demonstrations centered on the Conyers bill, which currently has 70 co-sponsors. Under the bill, a family of three earning $40,000 a year would pay around $1,600 a year for coverage in added taxes. According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average in 2004 (regardless of income level) for a three-member family was $4,424.