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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Gawkers and gearheads gather for car show on Main Street
A fairly accurate timeline of the internal combustion engine was represented at the 7th Annual Cruisin’ the Chisolm Trail car show this weekend in dowtown Duncan.
Car show had a big bang this year
Nothing at the previous car shows ever went kablooey quite like the featured vehicle at Cruisin’ the Chisolm Trail’s opening night on Friday.
Inaugural prayer breakfast in Duncan patterned after National Day of Prayer
A new tradition will begin in Duncan on May 1 -- an annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.
The Well Outreach plans mentoring program for kids at risk
The Well Outreach, Inc., will unveil its plans for an in-school mentoring program it will launch this fall during a Tuesday night meeting at its 913 W. Main Street storefront.
Bench murder trial to be returned to August docket
Although the first-degree murder trial for Miles Bench has been set to begin Monday, District Attorney Jason Hicks said the trial is unlikely to begin before August.
Bench found competent, trial to start Monday
A jury took 50 minutes on Thursday to find Miles Sterling Bench competent to stand trial for first-degree murder and District Judge Joe Enos scheduled the trial to begin Monday.
Bench, 23, of, Velma, is accused of the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry of Velma. She was killed in June 2012 in the Teepee Totem convenience store in Velma where Bench was employed.
Miller pumps up decathlon students
Dr. Ché Miller, who helped bridge a funding gap needed to send the Duncan High School Decathlon Team to the national competition in Hawaii, gave the team a pep talk on Thursday.
Miller, recently recognized as the Man of the Year by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the students they are about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and advised them to absorb as much of the experience as they can.
Churches prepare for Easter Sunday
Churches throughout Duncan and Stephens County are preparing to celebrate Easter this Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
Today is known as Good Friday to mark the day Christ was crucified on a cross.
Ellis named new CEO of regional United Way
Lauren Ellis, who’s led the United Way of Stephens County for more than two years, has been named the new chief executive officer of the United Way of Southwest Oklahoma.
Her new job will be based in Lawton but Ellis said she will remain in Duncan and commute.
Jurors to decide Bench competency issue today
Jurors will hear final arguments on Thursday and then be asked to determine whether 23-year-old Miles Sterling Bench is mentally competent to stand trial for first-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of 16-year-old Braylee Henry nearly two years ago.
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- Gawkers and gearheads gather for car show on Main Street