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March 17, 2014

READERS' FORUM: March 18, 2014

Don’t miss March 31 ACA enroll deadline

Being sick is undeniably stressful, and being sick without health coverage is even more so. For the 13 percent of Hoosiers ages 50 to 64 — about 172,000 people — who were uninsured in 2011, I have a message for you: Please don’t miss the March 31 deadline to buy coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Why now?

Not only will having health insurance help your peace of mind, you won’t have another opportunity to get covered until Nov. 15, 2014. Plus, you’ll avoid a financial penalty. But, if you already have coverage through Medicare or Medicaid, a military program or your employer, you don’t need to do anything.

How to sign up? First, check out AARP’s web tool — HealthLawAnswers.org — which provides a quick and easy way to get customized information based on where you live, your gender, your family size and your income and insurance status. Answering just seven simple questions generates a report about what benefits may be available to you and your family and where to find more information.

Next, visit the HealthCare.gov website or call a 24-hour hotline at 800-318-2596 to compare plans and determine what works best for you and your family. Whichever plan you choose, add this to your peace of mind: The health care law requires all plans to meet a certain level of coverage; you can’t be denied coverage if you have a pre-existing condition or dropped from a plan if you get sick; your plan can’t put dollar limits on your care; you get free preventive care including diabetes and cholesterol screenings, mammograms and immunizations; and, young adults can stay on their parents’ family plan until they turn 26.

At AARP, we take our role of providing folks with simple, clear-language information about the health care law and what it means for them very seriously.

I hope you’ll take your role as a savvy consumer seriously, and sign up for the coverage that works best for you by the March 31 deadline.

— June Lyle, director AARP Indiana, Indianapolis

Athletics costs out of balance

Here is a new take on a familiar spring ritual.

A March 5, 2014, Readers’ Forum letter (“Great work by TV sports staff”) passed along this information:

“On Feb. 19, six senior athletes, their coaches and their families gathered at Terre Haute North High School to sign letters of intent to attend colleges and universities for fall 2014.”

Local TV cameras and other media attend and highlight this sacred ceremony each year.  Chests swell. Involuntary tears roll. Fists of victory wave in the air. Coaches and school administrators stand by looking gratified, smug and vindicated — all at once. I hope the kids enjoy the spectacle. They paid for it.

I’m not certain how much taxpayers paid for the athletic success of each of these six hard-working kids. A clear statement on this never makes it into the non-transparent, arcane budget issued each year.

It’s safe to guess that the amount spent on these six athletic success stories far exceed the amount spent on six, average, non-athletic students in our local schools.

We do know, thanks to the recently released database of the Knight Foundation, the amounts spent on athletics vs. academics at the university level. These amounts vary widely. Their report shows, for example, that “In 2011, Georgia spent more than $25 on every scholarship football player for every dollar it spent on a full-time equivalent student, according to the database.” That’s a peach of a pot of gold for the coaches and the relatively few kids they goad, groom and grind into winners (or losers) each season … season after season.

Closer to home, at Indiana State University, academic spending for each student in 2011 was $11,298. Amount spent for each athlete came to $37,027.

The TV cameras, print media, coaches, trustees, administrators and faculty don’t gather around and swell with pride over these figures. And now, thanks to the Knight Commission, there’s no excuse for not knowing that approximately $3.25 goes into sweat for every $1 spent on academics at ISU.

Students taking on education debt and the parents and grandparents footing the college bills never hear these disconcerting facts. They should.

— Gary Daily, Terre Haute

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