I never thought I would be writing about health care reform. I have never really understood my own insurance policies. I just know they are expensive and they don’t cover everything.

Before I wrote this, I talked with some of my peers. I couldn’t find anyone who understands the health reform act that was passed in March, or who seemed very interested in the subject.

I found this interesting because, according to the National Association of Realtors, 28 percent of its members do not have health insurance.

I find the number alarming considering that according to the Census Bureau, 15.2 percent of the general population are uninsured. I think health insurance is an issue we should be interested in.

According to NAR, the reason so many members are uninsured is because of the expense. I can relate to that. I have looked into various insurance options for myself, and at this point I am using the only option available. It is what it is — minimal — but at least I have some coverage.

My husband and I have a medical savings account. Doctors’ visits for preventative care are not covered, and there is a copay for everything and a large deductible. Already this year our medical bills have exceeded $3,000, and that is in addition to the monthly premiums for two people.

There will be more deductibles to pay over the course of the year. I hopefully won’t need any medical care until I have a few more closings, but would never consider going without health insurance. Even with it, we are all one medical emergency away from financial oblivion.

When I slipped on the ice at a client’s property last year and hurt my back, I kept telling myself that the pain was in my head — that was easy, given that I had also hit my head pretty hard when I fell — and I could work through it.

Some provisions of the health reform legislation passed this year will be phased in over several years, and by 2014 most people will be required to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

I know there are people who really hate the idea of anyone telling them they have to have health insurance. I will just say that we are already paying for those who don’t have it — in the form of higher premiums and medical costs.

There will also be tax credits for small employers and individuals — the credits are supposed to make health insurance more affordable, and state-run insurance marketplaces are intended to create greater competition among insurance companies. …CONTINUED

It will be illegal for health insurance companies to deny coverage because of preexisting health conditions, and it will be illegal for them to jack up the rates or drop you from the plan when you get sick.

Funny how insurance works: We pay our entire lives, whether we use the insurance or not, and then when we do need it the insurers seem to either want to charge us more, drop our coverage, or not cover the medical expense.

In my community the biggest, tallest, newest and most beautiful buildings were built by insurance companies. How do they manage it with all of those skyrocketing health care costs?

Under the reform legislation, there will be no deductible or copay requirements for many preventive services.

It would be nice to have a plan like that, and I suspect that in the long run my insurance company would come out ahead. Prevention may be cheaper than patching me up once I get sick.

On the other hand, before the health reform act was passed they could have dropped me instead of paying to patch me up.

The new legislation also means that children can stay on their parents’ insurance plan until they are 26. That would have really helped our daughter, as she chose an academic life.

She benefited greatly from the insurance plan in France for the two years that she lived and worked there. When she returned to the U.S. she faced the daunting task of finding affordable insurance on an income that is only slightly above the poverty level.

I don’t understand all the implications of the current legislation, and at this point it is hard to find information that makes sense. I found two sources of information that explain health care reform in plain English: a government website and an NAR site.

As more information becomes available and the plan is phased in, it might be a good idea to read up. Who knows? Maybe in a few years more Realtors will have health insurance.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.


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