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Wayne's Words: Healthcare and new name for ballpark

Wayne Horne | 10/26/2017, 8:42 a.m.
This week Wayne discusses the current debate regarding the Affordable Care Act which has been going on since its inception.

The current debate regarding the Affordable Care Act has been going on since its inception. In a column from October 2013, I highlighted several points that are part of today’s discussions. One point was standardizing health insurance plans to fit insurance companies’ bottom line. Insurance companies’ interests do not always fit consumer needs. The ACA is not a government run health insurance program. The plans were designed and administered by insurance companies. Insurance companies are profit centers. They serve an important purpose in the private health care system, but they cannot lose money and stay in business. Overall, they seldom lose money for any length of time.

Another issue is the cost of health care. In 2013 the average annual cost per person was just over $8000. It’s now four years later and that number is almost $10,000. Not all of that cost is for medical care. Prescription drugs, doctor care and hospitals account for about 65 percent of the health care dollar. The rest comes from services such as dental (4%), nursing home care, home health care, etc., according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other government tracking services.

The ACA needs a large number of healthy people enrolled to offset claim costs of the less healthy. That is the essence of any insurance plan. There has to be at least as much money paid in as paid out. That has not happened. The idea is that younger, healthy people would purchase health insurance, thus providing premium dollars to offset claim expense. The reality is most younger people do not purchase health insurance unless it is provided as a benefit where they work. It was that way long before the ACA and it was not as expensive back then as it is today.

There is nothing new in the above-mentioned issues. Neither is the fact that the U. S. per capita healthcare spending is more than twice the average of other developed countries such as Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom and others. We have the freedom in the U.S. to make our own health care choices. Most want that freedom to continue, but at an affordable cost. Those two ideas may not be compatible. Open enrollment for individual ACA plans begins November 1 and ends December 15.

One last thing…the saga of Joliet’s baseball stadium continues. Taking another stab at viability for the stadium this last week is the idea of connecting the stadium to the legend of Old Route 66 by means of signage. The old Silver Cross Field sign over the stadium entrance will be replaced with one that renames the field Joliet Route 66 Stadium. Branding the stadium to the popularity of the nostalgic old highway is a good idea. However, it comes with yet another expensive item being added to the stadium (money pit) expense.

Keeping in mind the controversy that erupted with the Rialto Theatre marquee several years ago, the cost of the new stadium signage will probably exceed $250,000. The City has determined at this time not to expend dollars for the new sign until there is a naming rights contract in place. There is no word at this time regarding a naming rights contract but hopefully it won’t be tied to attendance like the old one with Silver Cross hospital. Due to steadily declining baseball game attendance over the life of the field, the City of Joliet never realized the full benefit of the revenue potential that was projected when it was built in 2002.

One other bit of trivia regarding the baseball stadium appeared in this column back in October, 2011. The question of selling the baseball park came up. The inquiry was raised by then city councilman Bob O’Dekirk. When asked if he still favored the sale of Silver Cross Field to a private owner he stated “the time has come to see what it is worth.” The question has never been answered. At that time, then Mayor Tom Giarrante asked “Who would buy It?” Who indeed?

Stay tuned…

Comments welcomed by Wayne at whorne@thetimesweekly.com