By Arlene Edmonds
Special to The CS&T

Orthodontist Dr. Anthony Farrow of Ambler welcomes health care reform. Over the 18 years that he has been in business, securing and funding health care for his employees has been an ongoing struggle. He has two Philadelphia offices, in center city and Mount Airy, and has 10 employees. Currently, he subsidizes health insurance for half his staff.

“Every single year since I have been in business health care costs have escalated,” said Farrow, a lifelong Catholic. “Even though I provide 50 percent of the health insurance premiums for my employees, some still find it cost prohibitive. If they could have afforded it before, as the costs continue to rise it becomes increasingly difficult.”

Consequently, Farrow believes that having a national health care program is imperative. He is quick to point out that some of his other staff members for whom he does not subsidize health insurance are able to afford health care because they are married and their spouse’s employer provides health care for the family.

He is well aware that there are many small business owners who cannot afford health care for themselves or their staff.

Farrow said that he is willing to pick up part of the tab for a national health care program if it means that all Americans will be able to have some type of health insurance coverage.

“Let’s face it, it’s going to have some cost whether it is through taxation or employers having to pay more into it,” Farrow said. “I know that it may be an additional expense for me, but I also know what could happen if an employee gets sick and can’t pay for treatment. We are all going to have to work together to make this happen.”

The Ross family of St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy neighborhood needs health insurance. Earl V. Ross Jr. is co-owner of the Goodman-Ross Trucking Company, and his wife Rhonda is owner of Simply Vogue Boutique on Wadsworth Avenue in Mount Airy.

When their health care premiums for the family rose to over $1,000 per month the couple found that insuring themselves and their two sons was no longer affordable.

“It was a challenge when we had health insurance to pay $800 a month, $20 copays and $20 for prescriptions a few years ago,” said Rhonda Ross. “As the cost went up we just couldn’t do it. Of course whenever I hired anyone I couldn’t pay insurance for them either.”

For Ross, the most critical concern is dental insurance for her sons Earl III, 15 and Ronald, 9. As she is noticing changes in her own eyesight, she realizes that vision insurance is also necessary. Fortunately, she said, the family is fairly healthy and tends to use natural health remedies, so regular doctor’s visits and prescription costs are not an immediate concern for them.

Ross, like Farrow, welcomes health care reform. Paying health care costs out of the family’s pocket has proven to be costly and often throws the family budget off especially since both husband and wife are self-employed.

“I think [some of the people who oppose health reforms] have health care insurance from their employers. They can take their children to the doctor or dentist anytime they need to,” Rhonda Ross said. “I think if some lost their insurance then they would realize what it is like to be on the other side of this debate.

“To [them] I would say … think about the people who come into the emergency rooms with no health insurance. Or, think about families like mine who are uninsured because it costs too much,” she said.

Arlene Edmonds is a freelance writer and St. Raymond of Penafort parishioner. She may be reached at