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'It is expensive': Voters want presidential candidates to hear their health care cost concerns

Scripps News Political Correspondent Charles Benson sat down with Wisconsin voters to hear what they want from the candidates in 2024.
Benson health care roundtable
Posted at 12:23 PM, May 22, 2024

Bring four people together at a Wisconsin coffee shop to talk about health care and it doesn't take long for the conversation to take off.

Lynn Carey shared her story about having a double lung transplant. Kamar Carter spoke from the heart about being a small business owner and paying for health care. Peter Gilbert is on Medicare and spent a lifetime in the insurance business.

Ron Chmill is an insurance agent from the suburbs, a cancer survivor who had a heart attack earlier this year. He's thankful to be alive, and for his health insurance.

"So far, since January 1st my insurance company has paid $233,000 for me plus my $9,400 deductible," said Chmill. "Luckily, I had the health insurance."

The 61-year-old is on his wife's insurance and worries about his out-of-pocket costs when she retires, and as they wait to sign up for Medicare.

"I will have to budget for that," he added. "Our premiums will be $1,800 a month and that's only for 18 months."

He knows the politicians will be talking about health care this election year.

"I don't know if anyone has the answer," Chmill said. "They talk about it around the election time but after the election then it kind of stops."

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Kamar Carter thinks about health care all the time. He owns a wellness business at a retail shop in Milwaukee.

"I wound up with my own business after that so now I'm at a point where I can pay for my insurance, but it is expensive," said Carter, a father of four. "I'm in agreeance with health care, I feel like everybody needs health care."

He knows there are challenges because he sees it with his customers.

"A lot of people in my community are living check-to-check," Carter said. "If you lose a job, everything is gone once you lose your job."

Carter wonders why Republicans and Democrats can't work it out to find better solutions.

"If you love people there is no way you can't sit down at the table, where everybody is happy," he said.

Lynn Carey knows what it's like to be the health care provider and the patient.

"Health care has always been very important to me because of my career as a nurse. I'm a retired nurse," she said.

"I had a double lung transplant, and it will be nine years on May 13th," Carey added. "It's a very expensive disease, as many diseases are."

She is a big supporter of the Affordable Care Act for many reasons, including its protection for people with preexisting conditions. Carey also appreciates President Biden's efforts to lower some prescription drug costs for people on Medicare.

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However, Carey believes both sides need to come together to do more.

"How can we provide a health care system that will provide health care as a right, not as a privilege?" questioned Carey. "In terms of Medicare, I like the discussion about making it available earlier. I would like to see it available to everyone. I call it Medicare for all. I have had a really good experience."

Peter Gilbert spent a lifetime in the insurance business.

"I'm a big proponent of preventive health care," he said.

The St. Francis retiree has stayed active on this issue and others. He made an unsuccessful run for the state Senate a couple of years ago, but there's one big change he'd like to see.

"I would prefer instead of health care being tied to a job," said Gilbert. "Because people maybe want to change jobs, or they lose their job ... being tied to a job is not very efficient."

This story was originally published by Charles Benson at Scripps News Milwaukee.