Archive for Sunday, September 7, 2008

Uninsured Kansans on the rise

Lawrence resident Ertie Evangelista, 63, rolls up her sleeve to have her blood pressure checked at Health Care Access, 1920 Moodie Road, in September. The clinic, like many Douglas County organizations, depends on volunteers to offer its services.

Lawrence resident Ertie Evangelista, 63, rolls up her sleeve to have her blood pressure checked at Health Care Access, 1920 Moodie Road, in September. The clinic, like many Douglas County organizations, depends on volunteers to offer its services.

September 7, 2008

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Ertie Evangelista, 63, of Baldwin City, has been receiving health care at the safety-net Health Care Access clinic for a number of years.

"It has been a lifesaver," said Evangelista, who raised four children and can't afford private health insurance. "I probably wouldn't be here if it hadn't been here."

She said it's no surprise to her that the number of Kansans without health care coverage is on the rise.

"You're not eligible to get state aid, and you can't afford private health insurance, and you're not working for a big company with good benefits - there are too many people falling through the cracks," she said.

The percentage of Kansans without health insurance coverage increased last year to 12.5 percent, up from 11.3 percent the previous year, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau figures. That means some 340,000 Kansans are without coverage.

Kansas was one of only 10 states that saw an increase in the uninsured, although its percentage still is lower than the national average of 15.3 percent, which decreased from 15.8 percent in 2006.

"The price of health insurance is making it less accessible to more and more folks, whether they can't participate in their employers' health insurance or their employers are no longer providing that benefit," said Nikki King, executive director of Health Care Access, 1920 Moodie Road.

King said Health Care Access treated a record number of people in 2007 - 1,589 patients - and 2008 is on track for another record, probably 2,000 patients.

The volume is growing so rapidly that clinic officials are trying to decide whether to expand on-site or get a satellite office.

King said it is apparent from the national figures that more people are "shifting toward government programs" to get health care coverage.

Kansas offers Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which is called Healthwave.

But King said Kansas lacks an active outreach program to get folks enrolled who are eligible for those programs.

"That is part of the missing link," she said.

In the United States, many people get health insurance through their employer. Approximately 57 percent of Kansans receive coverage this way.

But the number of employers offering coverage is decreasing, and the number of workers who enroll in employer-based health coverage also is decreasing because of increased copayments and deductibles.

In Kansas there are more obstacles, according to Marcia Nielsen, executive director of the Kansas Health Policy Authority, which has been fighting for health care reform.

Kansas is among the bottom of states offering public-funded health coverage to low-income adults. An adult must earn less than $4,000 per year before he or she can apply for Medicaid, Nielsen said. A program that would have provided funds for low-income adults to purchase private insurance was recently repealed.

"It's clear that we have not as a state been able to make great headway," Nielsen said.

Evangelista, who now has diabetes and kidney problems, volunteers at the clinic every chance she can.

Her husband, William, was disabled after a massive coronary when he was 32. He defied the odds and lived 30 more years, until 2006.

While his health coverage was taken care of, Evangelista said she had to scramble to provide care for her children and herself when raising the family.

Sometimes, she said, that meant getting a veterinarian to sew up a cut or provide antibiotics.

Of her children, she said, "Thank God I'm done raising mine. I don't know how mothers do it now."

Asked whether there should be guaranteed health coverage, she said, "Definitely, definitely, definitely. They need something out there."

Comments

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 12 months ago

The statistics are skewed and not truthful.Access and choice are TWO huge differences.There are people who choose not to have insurance.That isn't near the same as those wanting it but can't have it.Health insurance is not a right. Show me in the constitution that says it is then I'll agree.

8ball 6 years, 12 months ago

looking at the size of the woman in the picture for this story,i'd say she's not to worried about her health

situveux1 6 years, 12 months ago

You bet, the feds have demonstrated they take such great care of veterans, I sure wish they'd socialize all our health care and take care of all of us. That's a great plan.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 12 months ago

Oceans on the rise due to global warming, and"Uninsured Kansans on the rise" due to social cooling.May be time for resource-limiting interests to take a swim.

KEITHMILES05 6 years, 12 months ago

I second that!The lifestyle people live contributes to their health, both good and bad. Drink too much? Kills your stomach and liver. Eat too much? You get fat and have heart problems and knee and hip problems. Smoke? Lung cancer. People need to take control of their lives and be responsible. This would cut out a HUGE amount of medical costs.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 12 months ago

Health Insurance is no longer affordable to most of us. This must change. Thank you Health Care Access!!!

8ball 6 years, 12 months ago

maybe the worlds greatest govenor ought to get her butt home and fix this problem

Ragingbear 6 years, 12 months ago

Everyone in America is insured. You just have to go to the ER... Health crisis solved. You know, when McCain was a POW for 5 years, he didn't have health insurance....

Confrontation 6 years, 12 months ago

No one has guaranteed health insurance (gov-funded not included). Any employer can cut health insurance whenever they want. Fewer and fewer employers are providing insurance. Deductibles and premiums are rising. Private insurers can get rid of you at any time. No matter how healthy and well-fed you feel that you are, there are health issues that can happen. Skinny people can get sick, too. I wonder what kind of insurance KEITHMILES05 and 8ball have? It must be either millions in the bank or some super-duper-guaranteed-for-life-never-gonna-fail-will-accept-every-claim health insurance policy. Please let us know where your daddy gets your policy.

Potawatomi 6 years, 12 months ago

redmoonrising... I hope you are voting for Obama. That's our best chance for health care reform in this country. McCain has his hands deep in the pockets of insurance companies and only cares about making a buck so he can buy his 10th home. McCain continues to vote against health care, even for returning vets but votes for more war. He definitely doesn't care whether or not you receive health care. I sure hope Obama gets elected or it will get a lot worse for lower and middle class people in this country.

RedwoodCoast 6 years, 12 months ago

Hey everyone, thanks for clarifying; living a healthy, happy life, regardless of how healthy your lifestyle choices are, is a privilege, not a right. Just like driving a car.Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.... psshhhaa!

Sharon Aikins 6 years, 12 months ago

Right now I am in a special study to see whether providing better health care to the disabled or partially disabled will help keep them in the work force. This has been a life saver for me. Before you get all judgemental, I do work. And I have health insurance through the state's high risk pool as no one else would touch me due to having had cancer. This program offers me very affordable premiums and copays, no deductibles. But in a year, this study will be over. After that, I most likely will not have health insurance. Do I try to take care of myself, yes, I do. Hey, maybe I eat a few calories too many some days, not enough on others. I don't always get as much exercise as I should but some days I can't. Most people I know don't take perfect care of themselves. But one year from now, I will most likely be without insurance. It will cost me for the insurance and deductibles approximately $18,000-20,000 per year out of pocket. I will not be eligible for Medicare. I don't receive SSI because I didn't work outside the home enough, I chose to be home with my disabled child. I am divorced and trying to live on an earned income below poverty level. There are some assets which I fear will all go to providing health care to the point where that is all I will be able to afford. And I do have several health issues that require frequent doctor's visits and tests. Going to the dentist, forget it after this year. So instead of commenting on the pictures of people, why not think about the real issue here. Maybe you all have health insurance or can afford excellent health care. Some of us cannot, that's a simple fact.

BigPrune 6 years, 12 months ago

How can this be true when the former Insurance Commissioner for the State of Kansas is also Governor Sebelius?I guess she's spent too much time stumping for Obama and not taking care of her own.

JHOK32 6 years, 12 months ago

Who cares about them, as long as the big oil companies can make record $Billion dollar profits.......that's all our society cares about...right? McCain & Bush need a couple more $Million dollar houses....let's see: how many do they own now? It's such a problem to keep track!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 12 months ago

Support HR 676Enough talk already... together let's just get it done!The Citizens Alliance for National Health Insurance HR676.org,Inc. http://www.hr676.org/ Physicians for National Health Insurance HR676http://www.pnhp.org/publications/the_national_health_insurance_bill_hr_676.phpHow it would help! * HR 676 establishes an American-styled national health insurance program. The bill would create a publicly financed, privately delivered health care program that uses the already existing Medicare program by expanding and improving it to all U.S. residents, and all residents living in U.S. territories. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that all Americans, guaranteed by law, will have access to the highest quality and cost effective health care services regardless of ones employment, income, or health care status. * With over 45-75 million uninsured Americans, and another 50 million who are under insured, it is time to change our inefficient and costly fragmented health care system. * Physicians For A National Health Program reports that under a Medicare For All plan, we could save over $286 billion dollars a year in total health care costs. * We would move away from our present system where annual family premiums have increased upwards to $9,068 this year. * Under HR 676, a family of three making $40,000 per year would spend approximately $1600 per year for health care coverage. * Medicare for All would allow the United States to reduce its almost $2 trillion health care expenditure per year while covering all of the uninsured and everybody else for more than they are getting under their current health care plans. * In 2005, without reform, the average employer who offers coverage will contribute $2,600 to health care per employee (for much skimpier benefits).Under HR 676, the average costs to employers for an employee making $30,000 per year will be reduced to $1,155 per year; less than $100 per month.Who is Eligible!Every person living in the United States and the U.S. Territories would receive a United States National Health Insurance Card and identification number once they enroll at the appropriate location. Social Security numbers may not be used when assigning identification. cards. No co-pays or deductibles are permissible under this act.

ASBESTOS 6 years, 12 months ago

Yes Kathy the insurance wizard that was at the beck and call of the insurance industry. Insurers are only one notch up from lawyers and car salesman, but they don't know as much as the latter.But I am sure Obamaessiah will part the atlantic ocean and make America the land of milk and honey!

notajayhawk 6 years, 12 months ago

kansas_o_kansas (Anonymous) says: "If I ever forget that there are people out there who just don't "get" what really goes on in this world I know all I have to do is pull up just about any story the LJ World prints and read the comments."Pssst - k_o_k: Kansas, let alone Larryville, is not "this world."

behealthy 6 years, 11 months ago

Before 1943 few in this country had any form of health insurance. If they did, they called it hospitalization, because it only helped with unexpected expenses in a catastrophic situation at a hospital. The premiums were very cheap. It didn't cover doctor visits, prescriptions, maternity, or many other conditions that are now expected to be covered by health insurance. Most people made every effort to stay healthy and tried to set aside funds in the budget in case a family member needed medical care. They had a friendly relationship with their local physician. In the 1950's my father was a car mechanic and traded services with our doctor in case he needed to treat one of our family members. We have now become a nation of unhealthy people who see no direct correlation to our life style choices and our wallet. We expect the top of the line care and want someone else to pay for it.We want the insurance company to accept everyone and not base premiums on potential risk because that isn't fair. Then we wonder why premiums are so high and many people choose not to have insurance until they have a health issue. We expect our employer or the government to pay our premiums to an insurance company who should then pay for any conceivable claim we have. Then we wonder why we haven't had a raise in three years, and complain about how much is withheld in taxes from our paycheck. What if we all purchased our own plan like we do our car and home owners insurance? What if it had nothing to do with our employer. (For over 50% of employees of small businesses this is reality.) Many of them have already purchased a private health plan. They now realize this: 1) The healthier you are when purchasing, the lower the rate. Once you have a policy, the carrier cannot raise your rate or drop you based upon your claims (Lesson:apply while you are healthy) 2) If you stop smoking, and lower your weight to within a normal BMI, you can save between 30%-70% on the premium (Lesson: make healthy choices and save) 3)The younger you are, the lower the premium (Lesson: since the majority of the uninsured are young and healthy, most could afford a policy)My 26 year old pays $37 a month for 5 million dollars of coverage.4)The higher the deductible, the lower the premium. An HSA qualified plan limits your out of pocket. (Lesson: pick the low premium, budget for the small things and use your insurance plan to protect from the catastrophic)5)Aprivate plan is truly portable. (Lesson: you never have to consider a health plan when considering a career.)6)Nearly all carriers now offer individual policies giving more choice to the consumer.7)Kansas has a high risk pool for those whose health issues prevent them from purchasing a private plan. Of course the rate is higher than a private policy but one can get coverage.Maybe so many employers not offering health insurance has a silver lining. People have found a better alternative.

notajayhawk 6 years, 12 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says: "It's not what the political parties want it's what the people want!"Correct. It should be what the American people want. And while the polls say that a majority favor the concept of nationalized healthcare, when you give them the details, such as longer wait times for non-emergency care, more restricted choices of providers, etc. (not to mention what it would cost), that majority support disappears.****BTW, I wonder how much of the increase in uninsured folks was a result of kicking those who couldn't document their citizenship off of Medicaid?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 12 months ago

It's not what the political parties want it's what the people want!We don't need insurance WE need guaranteed HealthCareRep. John Conyershttp://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/legislation/hr-676-conyers/united-states-national-health-insurance-act

kansas_o_kansas 6 years, 12 months ago

My mother paid for a private insurance policy for herself and then later for her & us kids (dad was a farmer) from the 1950's until the early '80's. At that point it became unaffordable and her health declined. Nagging little chronic illnesses, untreated, became life threatening debilitating illnesses as she aged... Her weight went up, her knees got worse, her diabetes & hypertension, untreated, damaged her heart & nervous system. By the time she was officially considered "disabled" it was too late. She looked a lot like the woman in the picture - the one some of you so smugly like to condemn for "life style choices." If I ever forget that there are people out there who just don't "get" what really goes on in this world I know all I have to do is pull up just about any story the LJ World prints and read the comments.

dandelion 6 years, 12 months ago

8ball (Anonymous) says:looking at the size of the woman in the picture for this story,i'd say she's not to worried about her healthLooking at the shape of this women, I would guess she has rheumatoid arthritis. My aunt has that, and everyone in her support group has the same shape. I think it's a side affect of the disease, not of over eating. You'll notice her arms and legs are quite skinny. Of course, we all know you only eat fruits and veggies and work out everyday, so you are really quick to condemn someone who doesn't fit into your little mold. Shallow, shallow shallow.Also, if she didn't have insurance when she was diagnosed, guess what. The insurance companies are never going to let her buy insurance. It would ruin their profit. So I guess, according to you, she should just die a horrible, painful death. Nice.

dandelion 6 years, 12 months ago

Ok, I'm wrong. I read the article and she doesn't have RA. You would have her die a horrible painful death from kidney disease and diabetes. By the way, if she is poor, she probably can't afford a good diet. When I was working my way through college, I ate a lot of ramen noodles and mac and cheese, because it was cheap. I gained a bunch of weight for someone in their 20's. Now I can afford healthier food, but some people can't. Of course they choose to be poor, right?

KS 6 years, 11 months ago

If they have a cell phone, which I bet they do, it is not always a matter of NOT being able to afford health insurance. It is a matter of priorities in life and generally health care is ALWAYS a matter for someone else to pay for. That is what we have taught Americans over the years. Why should I pay for it when I can get it "FREE".

KansasPerson 6 years, 11 months ago

behealthy (Anonymous) says:"Before 1943 few in this country had any form of health insurance. If they did, they called it hospitalization, because it only helped with unexpected expenses in a catastrophic situation at a hospital."I'm with you so far -- "The premiums were very cheap. It didn't cover doctor visits, prescriptions, maternity, or many other conditions that are now expected to be covered by health insurance."But isn't that because of the lower costs (at the time) of things like doctor visits? I mean, prior to the time you're citing, didn't it cost just a few dollars to go see the doctor? I realize wages were lower at the time, but I don't think it became a big problem until medical costs went WAY up."Most people made every effort to stay healthy and tried to set aside funds in the budget in case a family member needed medical care. They had a friendly relationship with their local physician."I can't quite agree that people made every effort to stay healthy. That sort of mentality seems to have come along later. People were smoking, drinking, and in some cases, eating to excess. (Especially in the early 1900s.) Sometimes this was just because they didn't have the research findings yet (remember how doctors used to think smoking was healthy?). The whole idea of exercising just to stay healthy came along much later, I think. Plus weren't things just basically more unhealthy back then? Lead paint comes to mind -- pre-OSHA accidents -- lack of vaccinations -- lack of awareness of child safety in homes."In the 1950's my father was a car mechanic and traded services with our doctor in case he needed to treat one of our family members."Kinda wish we could do that now! Well, maybe you could. The last time I went to the car mechanic, it cost more than $800, so that's gone up a ridiculous amount too.I see a lot of sense in the rest of your post.

holycow 6 years, 11 months ago

The article fails to mention that there is another affordable clinic in Lawrence. Heartland Medical Clinic at The Leo Center sees both insured and uninsured patients at well below the market rates.Both organizations have been taking action on a crisis that belongs to all of us.

Linda Aikins 6 years, 10 months ago

Redmoon, have you thought about getting a job outside the home? Something that would give you insurance? You can be disabled and still work. Use the T like your son does.

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