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Couple Bemoans Health Plan's Surtax

FRED MARVIL and his wife, Flossie, recently sat at their kitchen table trying to figure out how they could cut back on electricity, water consumption, and food. The Bethesda, Md., couple's budget problem comes from having to pay the surtax levied on middle-income senior citizens as part of the catastrophic health plan.

``Somehow we have to make up this $66 to $70 per month we pay that must come out of a limited income,'' says Mr. Marvil, a retired government worker who now supplements his retirement by doing marine surveys. Flossie likewise works - helping out at a local antiques store.

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What really upsets Marvil is that he already has major medical health insurance, purchased when he worked for the government. That policy cost him about $1,000 a year.

The way he sees it, the $800 he is now spending for the new catastrophic plan is wasted. ``I'm paying for something I don't need,'' he says. He would be much happier if Congress were to make the program optional.

Marvil, who was in the insurance business for 42 years before government service, says the catastrophic plan is ``just a poor policy.'' He particularly dislikes the large deductibles (which may get larger) and what he sees as real inequities. For example, 3 million disabled people are also part of the program. This includes AIDS patients who used to be covered under state medicaid programs. ``You have people who are over 65 paying for younger people who are disabled,'' he says.

Marvil, who writes his congresswoman, Rep. Constance Morella (R) of Maryland, does not oppose the concept of catastrophic-care coverage. But, he says, ``They need to scrap this program and start all over again.''

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