From the 29 March 2010 Lockport Union Sun and Journal (Lockport, NY)

By Bob Confer

The topic du jour of the past week-plus has been the House of Representativeís passage of health care reform. People have been wondering since (and well before that) what theyíll be paying for the health care of others. Before we delve into that, itís important to figure out what youíre paying now in that regard.

First, letís look at your county/town bill. Refer to the section that reads County Tax. In Niagara County 54% of that total pays for Medicaid, the insurance provided to 9 percent of the population who we are told cannot afford health insurance. Write down that value which, frighteningly, is more than half our your payment to the County.

If you have a hunting camp in the Southern Tier Ė which many locals do Ė donít forget to analyze that bill as well. The Medicaid percentage varies from county to county. For example, if you are an Allegany County landowner 61 percent of your county taxes are dedicated to Medicaid.

Next, move on to your 1040. Determine your federal taxes paid. 20 percent of federal spending goes to Medicaid, Medicare (health insurance for the old) and CHIP (health insurance for the young). So, multiply your federal tax by 0.20. Set the number aside.

Now, determine what you paid to the State of New York. 30% of that will go to Medicaid. Tally that up with the numbers you came up with at the local and federal levels and calculate that as a percentage of your total income. I did, and I made the grim discovery that my wife and I paid 6.1% of our household income for the health insurance of others. Thatís a pretty staggering.

But realize thatís not all of it. Donít forget that youíre also forced to pay for the health care of all government employees and retirees. If you wanted to figure out what that percentage is youíve got your work cut out for you, delving through the benefits packages at every level of government from your town to your school to the hallowed halls of Albany and Washington, DC.

It may not be a perfect calculation, but itís pretty darn close. It might make that 6.1 percent a devilish 6.66 percent (which would be quite fitting).

If you arenít one of the aforementioned public servants you (and/or your employer) had to pay for your health care. That is, if you could afford to after you paid for everyone elseís first. Chance are, if you did get job-based health insurance, you had to pay a portion of the premium, be it 25, 50, or 75 percent. Depending on the employer contribution and your plan you had to pay a lot towards your care and that of your family. Typical insurance packages in WNY are just under $4,000 for single, a smidge under $7,500 for double, and in excess of $11,000 for family coverage. Statistics show that the average family that pays for health coverage puts 22% of its household income towards it.

Now, add your premium payments to what youíre paying for othersí insurance (the quality, by the way, probably far rivals what you get from your insurance) and youíre looking at an incredibly massive portion of your familyís income being dedicated to health careÖyours and that of someone you donít even know. And people wonder why most homes canít survive without two breadwinners.

That value is destined to go up Ė not down! Ė with the passage of health care reform. Donít let Congress fool you when they say the "evil" health insurance, medical equipment and pharmaceutical companies Ė not you - will foot bill. Those corporations arenít super-powered like the government; they just canít create money out of thin air to pay the new fees. They have to get it from somewhere or someone: Namely their customers, you and me.

It wonít be cheap, either. 32 million people will have to become insured. About 25 percent more Ė approximately 40 million Americans - are already on Medicaid and look at how much that costs us. Just suppose the numbers extrapolate nicely and our new-found payments for this so called "reform" are three-quarters of what weíre paying for Medicaid now. Come 2014 weíll be paying another extra 3 percent of our income to cover those who were just granted insurance through Obamaís and the Congressís benevolence (using our money), bringing the grand total to more than 9 percent of your earnings.

Yes, in a few years you might as well say 10 percent of your hard-earned dollars will be spent on health care and thatís before you invest in the same for your family. Itís enough to give someone a heart attackÖso thank goodness thereís universal coverage!