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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City Council reviews proposed budget
The Duncan City Council reviewed the proposed 2014 Budget during a special meeting Tuesday. The total funding available through the budget is $59,750,719.75.
“The process is not easy,” City Manager Jim Frieda said. “Budgets are tough. Budgeting isn’t always a pleasant process.”
CU-Duncan holds annual tree lighting
Unlike the past few years, weather was not frigid during Cameron University-Duncan’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting.
This event is something special for Cameron students, faculty and their families, as well as the community. Chosen to help John McArthur, Cameron president, and Ole Kim, CU mascot, light the tree this year were the Lehman siblings: Chris, Alex, Maddie and Paige.
Kiwanis Club happy with new sale venue
As it seems, a new location for the Kiwanis Club Christmas Tree Sale has been a positive change, according to its members.
After several years in the Elk Plaza parking lot, the sale was moved to Kiddieland in Fuqua Park. Sales began about a week ago and will continue through Dec. 15 or until the organization runs out of trees.
Community prepares for inclement weather
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. This is the thought process being yielded by the Stephens County, the City of Duncan and Duncan Public Schools as they prepare for possible inclement weather.
American Red Cross tips for winter storms
Winter storms can range from a moderate snow over a few hours to a blizzard with blinding, wind-driven snow that lasts for several days.
Some winter storms are large enough to affect several states, while others affect only a single community. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures and sometimes by strong winds, icing, sleet and freezing rain.
Regardless of the severity of a winter storm, you should be prepared in order to remain safe during these events.
Tips and tricks for ‘winterizing’ your ride
Some regions of the U.S. have already experienced their first snowfall of the year, which means it’s time to start thinking about prepping cars for cold weather and treacherous road conditions.
Meineke Car Care Centers has compiled a list of tips and recommendations for “winterizing” your vehicle, including this checklist:
One day remains in filing period for school boards, Marlow City Council
Incumbents and newcomers have filed for school board positions for Duncan, Marlow, Comanche, Velma-Alma and Red River Technology Center, and two people have filed for Marlow City Council.
Duncan Chamber accepting nominations for annual awards
Nominations for the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s annual awards are now being accepted by the chamber.
Recipients of the Woman of the Year, Man of the Year, Community Improvement, Free Enterprise and Al Hinshaw Community Spirit awards will be honored at the Feb. 6 banquet at the Simmons Center.
Commissioners continue to discuss property purchase
Stephens County commissioners have not reached a decision on whether to purchase the Courthouse Plaza property north of the Stephens County Courthouse. But at least one Courthouse Plaza tenant expressed her concerns if the commissioners do decide to make the purchase.
Christmas Auction continues tradition instilled by Jaycees
People who have helped with the annual Christmas Auction found themselves returning Monday night, as the auction kicked off its 56th year.
This year, the auction has become even more of a community event, as it is no longer solely sponsored by one organization. In previous years, the Duncan Jaycees headed up the event, before requesting help from the Duncan Rotary Club.
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