Ben Moore subsists almost entirely on tips.
Moore, 33, is a full-time server at an Olive Garden restaurant in Oklahoma City. He said he reports every penny of his tip earnings to the IRS. His yearly income is around $22,000.
Olive Garden offers health insurance to its employees, but the monthly premium is more than $300, he said. That seems like more than he can squeeze into his monthly budget.
“It’s not necessarily the brightest thing on the planet, but I don’t take the health insurance,” said Moore, who is 33 and single.
“I won’t lie to you,” he said. “I should be looking at those kinds of things. But insurance just seems like a luxury item … The kind of money they want me to pay for that, I could go out and buy myself a new car.”
That could change next month when people like Moore can begin applying for subsidized health coverage through the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Moore should be able to buy a “silver”-level health plan at a net cost of $259 per month, after tax credits are taken into account.
A cheaper “bronze” plan would cost him $182 per month, according to an online insurance cost estimator developed by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Silver plans are designed to cover 70 percent of an average person’s health care expenses. Bronze plans are designed to cover 60 percent.
If he chose a silver plan, he would also qualify for additional medical cost-sharing subsidies that would reduce his total health care outlays.
The new online marketplace is not open to people who already can get affordable and adequate insurance from their employers. But it appears Moore would be eligible because the cost of his company plan exceeds an affordability threshold of 9.5 percent of his annual income, set by the health-care law.
Moore would wind up paying bigger premiums than many marketplace customers because he’s a smoker. A non-smoker at his age and income level would pay monthly premiums of $108 for a silver plan and $57 for a bronze plan, according to Kaiser.
Some health insurance advocates have expressed concern that the hefty premiums paid by smokers could deter marketplace participation under the Affordable Care Act, particularly in states like Oklahoma with high rates of tobacco use.
“I suppose I could afford something like that,” Moore said of the estimated premium amounts. “But it definitely would be a stretch for me, because every penny counts at this stage.”
Moore said most of the restaurant employees he knows don’t sign up for company insurance. Many are young and still covered by their parents’ policies, he said. Others consider the insurance too expensive or its benefits too limited.
The exceptions tend to be employees with spouses and children, who find a way to work the cost into their household budgets, he said.
Moore said he is grateful that the health-care act is now the law of the land.
“I was thrilled,” he said. “I didn’t think the Republicans would ever let something like that go through … I know we’re only weeks away, but it still seems unreal.”
He said his sentiment is not shared by other restaurant employees he knows. “They believe that any kind of health insurance is some kind of nanny state thing. They don’t even know what it is.”
Moore’s estimated silver plan premium is $259 per month. Moore’s estimated bronze plan premium is $182 per month.
Ben Moore subsists almost entirely on tips.
- Local News
Velma teens win roping competition
Two Velma teenagers have claimed victory again this year in a statewide roping competition.
Marlow residents reflect on council member Ridley
A void remains on the Marlow City Council following the death of Councilman Don Ridley.
Velma storm siren problem fixed
A glitch with the storm sirens in Velma has been fixed, but just to be sure a weekly test run of the tornado warning system will sound off at noon Friday, Mayor Shawn Enloe said.
Marlow Chamber sets banquet for Monday
The Marlow Chamber of Commerce will focus on the town’s local businesses when it host its annual banquet Monday at First Baptist Church in Marlow.
Council votes for cheaper, quicker water fix
The Duncan City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to go with a $650,000 fix to its water infrastructure needs.
The council approved a $43,000 contract with Crafton, Tull, Sparks and Associates to build a 1,000-foot long pipeline that will be capable of putting about 3 million gallons of water per day into Lake Humphreys.
DHS band wins fifth straight Sweepstakes
The Duncan High School band received a rare distinction, winning Sweepstakes for the fifth consecutive year.
Senior Cody Plumley is excited the band won Sweepstakes for its fifth year in a row, making the DHS Band one of the few school bands to do so.
Do the crime, you’ll face a bigger fine
It just got considerably more expensive to be cruel to animals, ride a bike at night without a light, drive over a fire hose and noodle in a city lake.
The Duncan City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to increase the amount of municipal fines and bonds associated with dozens of misdemeanor offenses.
Sheriffs: State backing out on prisoner promises
State efforts to save time and money by shuffling prisoners more swiftly through the system are riling local sheriffs who are losing money because of the efficiency program.
A change in Department of Corrections practice is landing a “significant hit” on two-thirds of Oklahoma counties, which depend on reimbursements to house state inmates locally, said Ken McNair, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association.
McKinney: DOC move will benefit Stephens County jail
Oklahoma Department of Corrections efforts to move county inmates to DOC prisons has helped the Stephens County Jail dip below capacity.
But Sheriff Wayne McKinney wonders why it took so long to happen when the county jail was overcrowded for several years.
Officer urges volunteers to sign up for mentoring program
A new in-school mentoring program trying to recruit volunteers got a boost on Tuesday night when Duncan Police Officer Julio Alvarez stepped onto a stage to tell a crowd of 50 spectators that a mentor helped him overcome the trauma of childhood victimization.
“Go out and spread the word,” Alvarez said, urging people to sign up as mentors through a program that is being developed by The Well Outreach, Inc.
- More Local News Headlines
- Velma teens win roping competition