Catastrophic Health Bill Helps

PRO AND CON

IF Joe Landin of Dallas did not have to spend $350 a month on prescription drugs, he says, ``We could spend the money on food and other necessities.'' But Mr. Landin, a retired print-shop manager, has to pay for 20 different prescriptions out of his $979-a-month social security check. Because that expense would leave him short of the cash he must have for food, gas, and other utilities, he charges the drug purchases on his credit card.

``That way we only have to make monthly payments,'' he explains.

Joe and his wife, Margaret, have already tightened their belts. They now run the air conditioning only ``when we can't stand the heat anymore.'' They canceled their subscription to the local paper and drive only short distances to save gasoline.

Thus, it is not surprising that Landin is a supporter of the beleaguered catastrophic health insurance plan. Starting in 1991, the plan will pay for 50 percent of his prescription drugs.

Because Landin makes only $12,000 a year, he does not have to pay a surtax - a source of contention among many senior citizens. However, he does have to pay a monthly premium from his social security check.

So far, Landin and his wife have not had to use the plan for hospital expenses. The program went into effect last Jan. 1. Under that coverage 80 percent of any medicare-approved hospital expenses would be paid for.

Landin is aware of the opposition to the plan. He figures most people who oppose it have some form of supplemental health insurance.

Landin says that he lost his health coverage when the print shop where he worked laid him off two years ago. ``I don't think people would feel the way they do if they had to change places with me,'' he says.

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