Self-employed hit hardest by healthcare inflation

Fox Chase musician Arty Artymiw, who makes a modest living playing electric violin with The Barley Boys (www.thebarleyboys.com), says he laughed when he read my Aug. 26 column about health insurers boosting their prices to employers (who pass part on to workers) by more than 10% a year.

"I don't know what these people are complaining about," Artymiw told me. He doesn't mean to make light of the unsustainable increases in hospital, drug and professional costs for employer plans each year. Rather, he's looking at his personal Aetna coverage, which he said went up 28.5%, to $614 a month. "They raise me every single year." He figures this year may be worse because he's turning 50 - "a big benchmark."

"I'm a prisoner of my health plan," said Artymiw, a diabetic who pays $20 of each montly $190 insulin pen and $50 sugar-measurement equipment order out of his pocket - and then some: His total prescription payments are capped at $2,500/year. He had cataracts removed from one eye recently. He's putting off the other to save on copayments.

Artymiw has a theory on why medical costs aren't slowing down with everything else in the economy: "Ever since Obama came up with health reform, the writing is on the wall. They won't be able to pull this stuff in five or six years."

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