This is a discussion that I have been wanting to have because frankly I am personally pretty excited about a change here in US law.

Although I know that some will be capable of making this discussion political I ask that you please don't.  Instead I wanted to relate my own experiences with the health insurance topic, Lutherie, getting into the biz, etc. and not be a shill for the affordable care act aka Obamacare.

When I left the stinkin desk job and wanted passionately to someday hang out my shingle and do repair/restoration work the one single issue that I could not overcome and find a solution for was affordable health insurance.

In the states our insurance tends to be connected to our employment and as such doing anything unconventional or as an individual leaves one subject to the wild, wild west of brokered individual health plans.  These plans often sucked.... did not cover much of anything, and cost a fortune as well.  And you could be cancelled, capped, denied for previous conditions such as being nuts like me.

But no longer and this morning I ventured onto the Health Insurance Exchange and purchased the very best plan offered here in Michigan for less than half it's retail price.  I have pre-existing condition(s) as well and every quote that I received in the past was north of $2,200 monthly....  Now I'm enrolled in a "gold" plan that has to cover most everything, can't be cancelled, can't be capped for just under $395 a month!

There is more too.  Because I can now solve my own health insurance problem we, our business is in a position to provide meaningful work to others as well.  There are five of us in our business.

As such for those who ever fancied going pro, severing the bonds of corporate America, the health insurance issue is no longer impossible to solve.

I'm wondering if others here are seeing this new change in US law AND the availability of quality, affordable health insurance as I see it which is as something that is a pretty good deal for Luthiers?

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Ernie, Ned, and Frank thanks much for your thoughts and input here in this thread.

My story in real time is not unlike Frank's in that affordable health insurance is something that I have waited for a long time and had it not been available to me next year my own ability to work in the trade would be questionable.  

Ernie I have had only one encounter with the Canadian system and the result was very good.  While on travel with a female coworker she got very sick in Van Couver.  I took her to an ER, she was seen at once, treated, treated very well, her issues were addressed spot on with a correct diagnosis, and we were sent on our way.  I tried to pay the facility/hospital and they wouldn't have it.  I was told about the "blue cards" that Canadians have as their ticket to ride so-to-speak in obtaining health care in Canada.  I was also told that collecting payment is something that they don't know how to do anymore in their system because the Canadian system is much more about treating people than billing people....  

Although posting my one lone experience with any system is basically ignorant on my part I also have an aunt who purchases her $6,000 a month cancer drugs from a Canadian pharmacy because it's nearly twice the price in the US.  My aunt is simply attempting to survive a bit longer, fighting like the Tiger that she is making us all very, very proud.  Seems to me kind of shameful that any of us have to go out of country just to survive...

Anyway again it's not for everyone, thankfully I and others will greatly benefit, and again with respect to Lutherie the issue of affordable health insurance has long been a problem for working Luthiers.  For those of you not in the trade this is something that has to be considered.  Wages for Luthiers are typically low and for many of us we do this because we love some or all aspects of our work.  

Anytime any of the barriers to entry in the trade come crashing down, as the health insurance for state-side Luthiers issue now is, it's news.  I'm personally thankful and pretty excited too that now I have a shot at being that old man fixing instruments and making folks happy.  It's all that I want to do.

I can't share your enthusiasm on this one. I've had 2 good, affordable plans go away since the passage of this law. In the first instance, the OTC medication tax breaks went away and the plan (an HSA which I'd tailored to suit my needs) doubled in price. The second plan, which I currently have and includes the doctors I see "in network" no longer complies with the federal mandates, specifically maternity coverage, birth control etc. I'm a 53 year old male, I ride a bike 300 miles a week, am in great health and don't expect pregnancy any time soon, but I, like everyone else, am required to pay for these mandated coverages. I currently pay $173/month but the new plan my insurance company is offering is $373/month! It has the same basic coverage, but a smaller network of doctors. It does, however, include the mandated coverages so I'm good if I get pregnant, or need a sex change. I don't currently qualify for assistance from the government as my income is too high. But that's okay, I guess, since, in the words of our president "we want to spread the wealth around". Thanks but, no thanks. "We have to pass the plan to see what's in it". Indeed.

Yeah I hear ya Mark and can relate.  My new plan covers maturnity coverage as well and at 57 years old I just don't see myself getting pregnant either.

OTOH (on the other hand) half our nation are females and they are unlikely to have a prostate either but prostate exams are covered in the mandate too.... ;)

So too are colonoscopies covered which is pretty cool since most of us have one of those...

I don't think anyone WANTS to pay for health insurance. My wife and I no longer need maternity coverage but I'm happy to think that my children won't need to worry so much about that when their time comes. We managed because we had double coverage from BOTH of our jobs. Otherwise, I'd still be paying for my kids. (The first one spend 10 days in Ped's ICU. )

I've personally watched emergency rooms fill up, night after night, with uninsured patients that are using the most expensive source of medical attention available because they don't have insurance to go to a doctor. Someone has to pay for that or the service goes away.  I suppose Government subsidy might fix that problem and others like it but then it really would be a "tax".   

Just curious.  What tax breaks are there for OTC (Over The Counter) medications? or are you referring to something else?


For all its faults I'm glad that we have the National Health Service in the UK. 


I hope our (USA) envy isn't too obvious. . .

It is to our constant amazement in the UK, and other parts of Europe that there is little or no social health care in the US. What we find  even more amazing is the opposition  people put toward the setting up of a US NHS. Yes it is an imperfect system, yes it is bureaucratic and over managed, but ever man woman and child in the UK expects and receives free medical treatment for any condition from a grazed finger to a heart transplant. 

First of all....  to those that this Obamacare has supposedly helped....congratulations from  the taxpayers. of the U.S. I seemed to have missed the "newscasts" of people "dying in the streets" for 'lack of Healthcare ,in the USA in my lifetime. ( Iam 60)!

The private system is not perfect, but I highly doubt that the 'bloated' govt,ment can execute anything in a 'fiscal manner'.

Look what happened to Social Security and Medicare....broke! ...after billions of taxpayer dollars.

We used to 'expect' to get (as citizens) what we worked and paid taxes for in this country and NOT what the government 'allowed' us!

To be quite honest! ....As a U.S. born citizen, I already have more Govt'ment and Regulation than I can afford.

Sorry! Just being honest!

Not a political rant....just my feelings about 'socialism'...


I doubt if I have yet to meet an American who actually understands what socialism is. For example I've met many who describe Obama as being a socialist. Not by a million miles, he may be liberal, but he would certainly be to the right in the UK. I for one am glad that I don't have to pay private health insurance and my health care is is not down to big business or international pharmacy companies. 


Steve, please take the time to read this well-written article by a classmate of the president and explain how your take is more accurate than his.

It is wholly enlightening and worth the effort.

Hey Retro,  ssshhhhh....quiet, don't wake Steve up..... he thinks there is such a thing as "free" medical care.


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