Sunday, April 4, 2004

Satisfied for now, unsure about later



YOUNG PROFESSIONAL
Rich Hancock
Rich Hancock likes his coverage, but he sees his parents spending more and more, and doubts Medicare will be around for him.
(Meggan Booker photo)

RICH HANCOCK
36, Mason

Type of insurance coverage: employer-offered PPO

Health coverage premium: $77 every two weeks

Family health bills: Expecting a second child

Working in sales for a Philadelphia-based company, Rich Hancock says he's happy with the health coverage he receives from his employer and more than satisfied with the quality of care his family gets in Greater Cincinnati.

Hancock recalls a recent illness suffered by his 5-year-old daughter: "We even got a 7:30 p.m. doctor appointment on the day after Thanksgiving."

Still, Hancock watches and worries as his parents spend more of their income for drug bills and the rising costs of Medicare supplemental coverage. He assumes the current system won't be around for him.

"The costs just keep getting bigger. Who knows what it will be like when I retire?" Hancock says. "I think benefits will be totally different."

Some type of major change to Medicare will happen. Recent reports out of Washington indicate that the trust fund established to help pay for massive costs of retiring baby boomers will run out of money in 2019 instead of 2026, said Tommy Thomspon, federal health and human services secretary, on a recent Cincinnati visit.

Reforms could include a higher retirement age, cuts in benefits, increased fees charged to seniors or any combination of things, Thompson said.

Hancock says he has little confidence in the ability of the federal government to make effective reforms. Too many special interests have too much influence, he says.

"I don't think the drug companies want to see things changed very much," he adds.

More stories from Greater Cincinnati families:
Chronically ill or 'ridiculously healthy." Workers, self-employed or retired. Young or old. A spectrum of lifestyles and incomes. But these Greater Cincinnati families share a worry about the cost of health care, now and in the future.
Harry Tyson SMALL BUSINESS OWNER
Risk of going bare vs. impossible costs
Harry Tyson started a company after the dot.com bust, but health benefits have been impossible.
Rich Hancock YOUNG PROFESSIONAL
Satisfied for now, unsure about later
Though happy with his coverage, Rich Hancock worries as his parents spend more for health care.
Lisa James CHRONIC ILLNESS
Insurance changed and bills soared
When Lisa James' husband took a new job, it turned into a coverage nightmare.
Keith Glassmeyer UNION WORKER
A strong benefit that may not last
Keith Glassmeyer says health-care benefits are the biggest concern among fellow workers.
Betty Stevens CONCERNED SENIOR
No confidence in Medicare reform
Betty Stevens joined an HMO in the '90s, and saved money at first. She's now less satisfied.
Harry Tyson RETIRED EXECUTIVE
'On the good end,' but still worried
Bill Luerssen is "ridiculously healthy" and lucky to have solid benefits. Not all retirees are so lucky.
More stories from Greater Cincinnati residents
Add your own story or comment

  YOUR HEALTH/
YOUR MONEY

Paying the bills
The rising costs of health care have spiraled into a crisis.
Full survey results
Return to special report front

Healthy lives, lower premiums
Most favor penalties for smokers, fat people and those who don't take care of themselves.
Employers offer incentives
Editorial: Don't blame others

A common fear
These families share a worry about the cost of health care.
Small business owner
Young professional
Living with chronic illness
Union worker
Concerned senior
Retired executive
More stories

YOUR THOUGHTS
Share your thoughts on the series or propose solutions.
Post your comment...