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.
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Waurika City Commissioners reinstate Brown
Chuck Brown was somewhat surprised early last week when the Waurika City Commissioners voted to terminate him from the position of city manager.
Brown was very surprised four days later to learn he had been “un-terminated” and restored to the city manager position.
Awards handed out at livestock show
Winners were announced and students walked away vests and plaques at the end of the week-long 76th annual Stephens County Junior Livestock Show, which ended Friday.
Following the award ceremony, the premium sale began as livestock was auctioned off.
Stephens County Fair Board secretary Kathy Shorter said funds for the sale are gathered through the different clubs in support of the students in the competition.
School boards to meet Monday
Bray-Doyle, Central High and Velma-Alma public schools will meet at their respective superintendents’ offices at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Velma-Alma’s school board will discuss possible re-employment of certified teachers and staff for next school year and possible approval of a senior trip to Medieval Times in May
Today marks beginning of Daylight Savings Time
Daylight Savings Time began in the early hours today as clocks were set forward one hour.
Clocks were skipped ahead from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. and won’t be set back again until Nov. 2 when Daylight Savings Time ends.
DPD aims to fill five staff vacancies
The Duncan Police Department is looking for five new officers.
Of the department’s 43 patrol officers, two are females and one is Hispanic. There are no African-American officers.
The city’s search for five new officers includes anyone who is qualified, said Chief of Police Daniel Ford.
Forestry service selling seedlings to public
The Oklahoma Forestry Service will offer the gift of seedlings to the public.
The service, which sells seedlings on its website throughout the year, will come to Duncan to sell seedlings and give Duncan residents a chance to speak to their forester, Kevin Keys, in person during the sale on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Stephens County Conservation District Office at 3901 W. Beech Ave.
Half-cent sales tax approval urged for city’s growth
Twenty years have passed since the City of Duncan passed a half-cent sales tax to establish a foundation to strengthen the local economy.
Lyle Roggow, president of the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation, and Ben Herrington, DAEDF Board chairman, spoke Thursday on the need to continue the sales tax to keep the economy strong.
Junior livestock show finishes Friday night
The 76th Stephens County Junior Livestock Show concludes tonight with the awards presentation at 6 and the bonus sale at 6:30 at the county fairgrounds and expo center.
On Thursday, the doe meat goat show, wether meat goat show, steer show and heifer show were held.
Church Women United organization to celebrate World Day of Prayer
Christian women from various denominations will celebrate their beliefs by coming together this morning to pray.
The local Church Women United organization is set to meet at 9:30 a.m. today in the First Christian Church for fellowship and a program. Today is the 2014 World Day of Prayer, which brings women from all denominations together. The local effort is headed by Church Women United.
Baseball teams remember Chris Lane in Ada
One by one, they stopped playing or coaching and walked past the media to talk about Chris Lane.
Guess you could say he was on everybody’s mind Wednesday, especially the 40 or so players from Redlands Community College and East Central University.
They were all wearing Chris Lane’s numbers on the ECU diamond.
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