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Archive for Sunday, March 22, 2009

Faces of the uninsured

Workers juggle bills, health care

Maria Kerby, left, office manager of Health Care Access, 1920 Moodie Road, assists Jane Cotitta in getting information about health care for an uninsured friend. Health Care Access provides primary medical services for Douglas County residents who have no insurance. There are about 13,000 Douglas County residents who have no health insurance, and the clinic serves about 1,700 of them.

Maria Kerby, left, office manager of Health Care Access, 1920 Moodie Road, assists Jane Cotitta in getting information about health care for an uninsured friend. Health Care Access provides primary medical services for Douglas County residents who have no insurance. There are about 13,000 Douglas County residents who have no health insurance, and the clinic serves about 1,700 of them.

March 22, 2009

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Workers juggle bills, health care

An estimated 13,000 people in Douglas County aren't covered by health insurance. Enlarge video



Help available

The Community Health Improvement Project will have information tables for people who want to learn more about what kind of health care services are offered in Douglas County as part of National Cover the Uninsured Week. They will be:

• Today, 1 p.m.-4 p.m., Wal-Mart, 3300 Iowa. • Tuesday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., main lobby of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine. • March 28, 9 a.m.-noon, annual Community Wellness Festival, Collins Center at Baker University, Baldwin City.

They are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends. Often, they are workers who are struggling to make ends meet.

They are the uninsured.

“A lot of our patients have to choose how to spend their limited income, and obviously having groceries and a place to live and basic needs are going to come first, over an insurance policy that they may or may not need,” said Nikki King, executive director of Health Care Access.

It’s estimated that 340,000 people — about 13 percent of Kansans — do not have health insurance. About 13,000 of them live in Douglas County. Nationwide, 46 million are uninsured.

Health Care Access, 1920 Moodie Road in east Lawrence, opened 20 years ago to provide health care for low-income Douglas County residents with no access to medical care, except for a trip to the hospital emergency room. The founders assumed it would be a temporary two- or three-year fix, until the national health care system improved.

They were wrong.

In 2008, the agency served a record 1,703 patients and provided more than $4 million worth of care.

“We are bigger than ever and looking for more capacity,” King said. The wait to get an appointment is six weeks and growing.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, of Lawrence, was a founding member of Health Care Access. While the organization fills a void, she said it’s not the long-term answer.

“It’s a safety net, and the ideal solution would be for Health Care Access to not be needed because everybody has coverage,” she said.

Praeger said meaningful health care reform would need to come from the federal level.

“We will never get our arms around a permanent solution unless we address the issue of health care costs,” Praeger said. “It’s not conceivable to ask somebody to pay a third to a half of their monthly salary in health insurance. It’s just not going to happen.”

Four uninsured Douglas County residents agreed to share their stories to help raise awareness about the health care crisis in this country as part of national “Cover The Uninsured” week. These are their stories:

Linda Wilson

Linda Wilson

A grandmother

Linda Gleasure, 59, is a self-employed hairdresser at Brandon Woods Retirement Community. She has been shampooing, cutting, blow-drying and styling hair there for about five years.

“You’ve gotta enjoy what you do and that’s three-fourths of the job to me, and I am enjoying what I am doing,” she said.

Gleasure said she earns about $800 per month, which doesn’t cover her monthly bills.

“I juggle bills. Sometimes, I don’t pay the water bill one month and I pay the phone bill. And the next month, I don’t pay the phone bill, but I pay the water bill to keep disconnects away. I’ve had to do that a lot.”

She lost her health insurance in 2005 when her father died. He had lived with Gleasure for 13 years and helped pay for the coverage.

“When he passed, I couldn’t do it,” she said.

Three years earlier, she had a mid-sized tumor removed from her head. It was a six-hour surgery and seven-day hospital stay. The bills were around $80,000. She knows the importance of health insurance. She tries to not worry about her situation, but it’s difficult especially as she ages.

“There’s a lot of things that could cause fear and if your mind goes there, you could worry yourself sick,” she said. “For me, I just thank God that I can depend on him. He’s our help in time of need. I am a firm believer in that.”

She recently turned to Health Care Access, which provided her with medications and her first women’s wellness exam in two years. She had to use a credit card to pay for dental work and recently racked up a $6,000 bill because she needed crowns.

“That’s all that’s on that credit card is teeth,” she said.

Gleasure has two sons, ages 28 and 23. The youngest lives at home and plans to get married in June. His full-time job pays $11 an hour, but he is uninsured.

His mother worries about him.

“He can’t start having a family without insurance. If the baby has trouble or the mom has trouble, it would break them. He would be 25 years old and have this debt that he can’t get rid of and then you can’t get a house because you’ve got too much debt,” she said.

Gleasure also plans to get married. She became engaged in February to Steve Wilson, of Harrison, Ark. They met during church services in Lecompton. Wilson is a longtime friend of the pastor. The wedding date hasn’t been set because of the housing slump. Wilson’s house has been on the market for six months and only a handful of people have looked at it.

“Economically. That’s another problem,” she said.

Steve Pitnick

Steve Pitnick

Newlywed

Steve Pitnick, 51, commutes to work every day from his Lawrence home. He is in the construction business with his brother who lives in Lenexa. They do remodeling work, paint and finish basements in the Kansas City area. He is still making monthly payments on the van he uses for work.

When Pitnick gets that van paid off in a couple of months, he plans to start shopping for a health insurance policy. It would be the first of his lifetime.

“For 47 years, I was very lucky with my health,” he said.

Not feeling well, he visited a doctor in Shawnee who recommended Health Care Access. After the visit, he was diagnosed with a liver disease. He said the disease required a year of treatment, and all of the services and medication were provided for free.

He called it a blessing — and a wake-up call.

“They are a godsend, that’s what they are,” he said.

Pitnick recently remarried his former wife, Marilyn, who is a nanny. She, too, is uninsured. He also supports two grown children at home. He enjoys fishing and riding his motorcycle. He said his life is much different than it was four years ago when he found faith. He said he used drugs and lived a “crazy, screwed up” life.

“When they said you’ve got this, that and the other, it just didn’t surprise me,” he said. “The way I truly looked at it is, if this disease is going to get me, then fine, I can go to heaven now.”

But, it didn’t. Now, he wants to find affordable health insurance, so someone else can take advantage of Health Care Access. Employees say he donates money when he can and often writes “God Bless you” on the check.

Depending on business, he brings home about $500 a week. So far, his business hasn’t been affected by the economy.

“Who knows,” he said of what the outlook might be. “If people decide they are not going to do this, that and the other, then who knows what will happen.”

Paul Halford

Paul Halford

College bound

At age 20, Paul Halford has his whole life in front of him. That is, if he gets the medication that his life depends on.

Halford was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 7. He had health insurance until he turned 18. Then he was on his own. His dad is a pastor in Baldwin City and his mom works as the church secretary. They don’t have insurance either.

“God apparently is watching over us,” Halford said.

Halford, an honor roll student, graduated from Baldwin High School a semester early. He began working full time for Jackson Hewitt Tax Service and traveled around Kansas. Last year, he graduated from Masters Commission school in Jacksonville, Fla. Then, he worked in construction in Wichita for a few months before moving back home.

Now, he is trying to save money to attend North Central University in Minneapolis next fall. He hopes to become a pastor or teach theology or maybe even do something with drama.

He is working as many hours as possible at Back Yard Burgers, where he earns $7 an hour. That’s about $150 per week.

“I have car payments even though my car is falling apart. I still haven’t paid it off,” he said.

Halford said he pays for entertainment, such as bowling and movies and, of course, gas. He also takes 10 percent out of each paycheck and gives it to his church.

He relies on Health Care Access to supply him with insulin and blood pressure medicine. He goes through about $200 worth of insulin a month.

Halford pulled out a small bottle and held it up between his thumb and index finger. “This bottle of insulin is $85 and I am like, ‘What goes into this that makes it that much money?’ That’s what I don’t understand,” he said.

Anna Doktor

Anna Doktor

Widow

In 1992, Anna Doktor and her husband, Czes, moved to Lawrence so he could earn a master’s degree at Kansas University, in addition to his degree from Poland, and become licensed in the state of Kansas. He then landed a dream job at Lansing Correctional Facility as a psychologist.

Meanwhile, Anna took care of their two children, Alexander and Monika, and worked part-time jobs. She has a degree in political science and journalism from the University of Warsaw in Poland, where she is originally from, and planned to earn a similar degree at KU.

“That part didn’t happen,” said Doktor, now 51.

In 2003, Czes died after an 18-year battle with cancer. His death left the family without health insurance. They were offered coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, but it cost $800 per month.

“I could live in a tent and have insurance or I can try to keep my home. I tried to pay for a few months and then I quit and by then I didn’t work,” she said.

Her children were covered by Kansas Healthwave, a state health insurance program for children, until she began working at Signs of Life, a locally owned downtown bookstore. When she first started there, she earned $120 a month, which was $40 too much to continue qualifying for the program.

“You are too rich to qualify for state help by their standards, but basically you are too poor to pay for anything else,” she said.

She considered cutting back on work until she found the Leo Center’s Heartland Medical Clinic in downtown Lawrence. It provides primary health care services and medication for the family, and the fees are based on her income. More importantly, she said the doctors and staff treat the family with genuine care and respect.

“If nothing major happens, we are fine at the Leo Center,” she said. “My concern sometimes at 2 o’clock in the morning is: What if? But, I cannot afford to think about it and I cannot afford to pay $500 or $600 a month just for what if.”

She has house payments and utility and grocery bills. She puts off dental work until it’s necessary. Her children, now ages 12 and 15, sometimes pitch in by walking someone’s dog for a little money. They are understanding when mom can’t buy a new pair of shoes until next month.

“Like my daughter said, ‘Mom, I would rather have one pair of jeans and have you go to work happy and come to us with energy and joy, than having a whole closet and you being grumpy and working so many hours a week.”

Comments

geekin_topekan 5 years, 9 months ago

Yesyes Pil we all know of your anti American classification system you cling to.Don't tell this forum,tell these people of your findings.If you have a pair.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

The above comment on how many is a May 2003 quote. Lots of people have become unemployed and more companies are not funding health insurance for employees. The big three are shaving back benefits for their retired employees thus not meeting their original agreements and they want out of insuring their employees.

"All agree that something must be done to repair the healthcare system. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) must work with the data they have even if the data is incomplete. CBO’s estimates are modest. During our present economic recession I think the number of uninsured will rise to 54 million by the end of 2009, not in ten years."

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

HR 676 would make Americans employable and self employable

The USA is the only industrialized country NOT providing medical insurance or care for its’citizens.

HR676 is the ONLY option being offered NOT connected to corporate american insurance. Politicians are still concerned for themselves and their election campaigns while you and I pick up the cost of their insurance. Each of the many politicians could easily afford to pay their own way. Yet you and I are doing so.

I cannot afford THEIR medical insurance. Why should taxpayers be forced to pay insurance for elected officials? They say paying for mine is not affordable. Then how is theirs affordable? Think about it. How many times are we paying considering the number of politicians in our lives?

All taxpayers need coverage, taxpayers need relief and big time reduction in cost.

HR 676 is the only equitable approach that includes all of us.

HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health, physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

A family of four making the median income of $56,200 would pay about $2,700 in payroll tax for all health care costs.

HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private health insurance industry and HMOs.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

Actually neither the state nor the feds would be “providing” insurance. Our tax dollars would be paying for it. It's not free but wayyyyy less expensive.

However under a National Health Insurance plan the insured would be receiving all necessary medical care including prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health,physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.

It would be for far less money than anyone is paying today for such comprehensive coverage.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 9 months ago

Now that the Far Left has declared my income susceptible to the perceived needs of all other Americans, I'll be ready to unwillingly open my wallet to the whims of each of their social experiments.

Chris Ogle 5 years, 9 months ago

They are a godsend, that’s what they are,” he said.

Health Care Access is very much a life-line to many folks in the area. To all who make this work... Thank YOU.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 9 months ago

Win-Win Campaign HR 676: Healthcare Savings for Healthier Cities

We want YOU for a new campaign targeting local government entities – cities, towns, counties, school boards – in an effort to get them to endorse HR 676. Our hook is big money savings in a time of fiscal crisis for governments.

In a nutshell, the employer payroll tax that will be required for health coverage under HR 676 is considerably less (usually one-third to one-half) of what government entities now pay in health insurance premiums for their workers. Set asides to cover health benefits for already retired government workers will no longer be required. HR 676 will mean savings for public employees, too.

Help us get this message to local government officials. We are asking for interested people to sign up for this campaign, and commit to a 6-8 week process of learning and doing, culminating – if all goes well – in a resolution or public endorsement from your town, city, county or school board. Local officials will learn that national health insurance is the only reform that provides significant financial relief for fiscally strapped local governments.

http://www.healthcare-now.org/campaigns/win-win/

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

STRS-- Under a single-payer plan, you'd most likely pay less than you do now for your healthcare coverage. Your ideological whining is baseless.

skinny 5 years, 9 months ago

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Dr. Adrian Rogers

yankeelady 5 years, 9 months ago

What many who have insurance through their jobs don't realize is that what they pay is the tip of the iceberg. Even though it seems like a lot comes out of your paycheck it is usually less than half of the cost. Sometimes way less. Your employer pays a huge chunk of our premiums. That's why COBRA can be 800-900 a month while your cost while working was 200-300. The system favors the insurers who really don't do much for healthcare. It is about the big profits and bonuses. And the change really started with Reagan and the first HMO's.

Staci Dark Simpson 5 years, 9 months ago

Add us to the list of uninsured. We can either have a house and eat or be insured. My work doesn't provide insurance, which is dumb considering its run by a big corporation. My husbands work insurance is 1000 a month. Granted its covers everything without any co pays it is more than my mortgage and car payment together. We need to investigate why the medical community charges so much for services. Example: When my son was born our insurance paid $180 for my son to get circumsized, we were charged $360. Guess who paid the difference?

Pennyclub 5 years, 9 months ago

It is the Insurance companies that need to be controlled not the health care. Health care is dictated by the Insurance companies and that is the problem.

average 5 years, 9 months ago

Employer-based insurance is insane. It's a major impediment to entrepreneurship and labor mobility. Small businesses spend hours poring over insurance plans (not their core competence). They are also severely encouraged to discriminate against hiring older or sicker people. Yes, it's illegal. And it happens every day.

Pure-private insurance also doesn't work in a country where an estimated quarter of the population (including my cancer-survivor mother) could never obtain private insurance at any cost.

So, you either have single-payer, insurance companies that have to take everyone equitably, or "high risk pools" subsidized by the government. Neither of the 'hybrid' plans is going to save taxpayers money, and both are going to continue the bureaucratic mess of the profit-driven insurance behemoths.

Personally, the worst day I've ever had dealing with the Post Office or DMV was substantially better than the best day I've ever had dealing with Aetna, Blue Cross, or UnitedHealth.

redmoonrising 5 years, 9 months ago

Recently visited a specialist for a 5 minute follow up. The cost, $95.00. One prescription costs me $236 per month, I use half as much as prescribed. An inhaler cost $187 at last purchase. I don't buy it any longer and wheeze. Routine dental cleaning, xrays and a couple of minutes with the dentist to check my mouth, $230, not covered by insurance. A new pair of glasses after cataract surgery, $439 at a discount place after a 30% discount because I am insured even though they don't pay for glasses (go figure that one). In a few months I will be joining the uninsured because it will cost me over $13,000/year out of pocket for premiums, co-pays, deductibles and non-covered items. And I like having a roof over my head and some food now and then.

tin 5 years, 9 months ago

Most people can afford some kind of health insurance. They just choose not to.

I have a major medical plan that cost about ten dollars a day. Who can't afford that? Most people I know spend that a day eating out or buying cigarettes or other things they don't need.

There may be some that can't afford that but chances are it's because of bad personal choices they've made in there lives.

Now Obama wants me to bail these people out? BS if you don't have it work harder like I do, go without something you don't have to have and buy it yourself. I make those kinds of sacrifices why can't the rest of you do the same.

Chris Ogle 5 years, 9 months ago

hey tin- I am fortunate to have health insurance. It is higher than my house payment, but I have it.

Not everyone (regardless of how much they work) can afford insurance. I am not in favor of social medicine, but we need to do something..... Of course stepping away from the table, and walking would work wonders.

See ya later bye, going for a walk (and not to the fridge)

alm77 5 years, 9 months ago

tin, I agree with you that people who won't work should, but the people in the above story have jobs. What about them? My father-in-law worked for 18 years in a state job and recently retired. His retirement income is sufficient, but he now has no health care. What is he supposed to do?

My family is so blessed with employer provided insurance, and it costs our family less than 10% of our income. I don't know what we'd do without it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

A single-payer plan is not socialism. It's an insurance plan. It's that simple.

Doctors would still run their own practices, and patients would still choose their own doctors. It would cut out middle-men who serve no useful purpose, allow businesses to get out of the healthcare business, and allow healthcare providers to spend more of their time delivering healthcare, and not dealing with pointless paper shuffling which serves primarily to protect the profits of insurance companies.

KS 5 years, 9 months ago

Dr, Rogers, right on! I suspect that these uninsured are very nice folks, but I wonder how many of them have cable TV and internet access and a cell phone? Let's see now, can they not afford it or do they have different priorities?. And they all want me to pay for it? Can anyone spell "expatriot"? The more the governement interfers with our lives, the more money will be moved out of this country. Make our tax laws better and not at the second highest tax rate in the world and money will come back to what used to be the good ole USA.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

" Make our tax laws better and not at the second highest tax rate in the world and money will come back to what used to be the good ole USA."

You are clearly misinformed about US tax rates.

SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 9 months ago

bozo,

You claim that socialized medicine is "an insurance plan." However, under private industry, I can choose to purchase insurance or I can choose not to.

Will my family and I be able to choose to opt out of your forced plan? Can I not pay the premium of your forced plan? What if I don't pay less under your forced plan?

elfth 5 years, 9 months ago

Do all the posters saying "don't take my money to pay for the uninsured" not understand that this is already happening? Where do you think the money comes from when the uninsured show up at the ER with what might have been an easily treated condition has turned into a life threatening crises? When the hospital writes it off, it's money from the insured that makes up the loss. Of course that's after the insurance company has taken their percentage for profit. Until you are prepared to refuse care to the uninsured no matter the need or merit, you will be paying and making sure the insurance company will get their "taste".

nbnozzy 5 years, 9 months ago

I feel like I have a right to comment on this issue because a couple of months ago I was diagnosed with esophagus cancer. Luckily for me, through my job, I do have insurance. Good insurance. It's covering the bills. But had I still been at the old business my brother and i was in, I would be in trouble. Health insurance for a small business is expensive.

The reality is that because I am lucky to have good coverage, my life is probably being extended. How much, I don't know.

I think that for BASIC HUMAN DECENCY, some type of coverage should be allowed for all legal United States citiizens. Private donations could cover illegals. Leave it to the health care professionals to decide how much care is needed. Offer drug companies major incentives to provide the supplies.

I once thought differently about health care than I do today, but with age, maturity, and the dreaded "C" in me, I believe that those who are worse off than myself, should have some type of basic health care. Are we not a nation of caring Americans who are there for our own? Whether you live in Larryville, or Pottstown PA, you are my neighbor and I wish you a happy, healthy life. Let's take of each other and be decent people.

btw--- I am a Republlican and don't care to hear any "he's a liberal commie crap" retorts. I am wearing a different set of shoes today and I hope you never have to go there......

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

"You claim that socialized medicine is “an insurance plan.” However, under private industry, I can choose to purchase insurance or I can choose not to."

The matter of choice plays absolutely no part in whether or not it's an insurance plan.

There is hardly anyone who doesn't want to have meaningful access to healthcare, and very few of those who have no health insurance now have "chosen" to live in that precarious situation. The number of people who have really chosen and would continue to choose to opt out is so small as to warrant little or no consideration in this issue.

"Will my family and I be able to choose to opt out of your forced plan?"

Why would you do that?

"Can I not pay the premium of your forced plan?"

Taxes are levied against you every day for all kinds of things. How many of those do you opt out of?

"What if I don't pay less under your forced plan?"

The vast majority of Americans will pay less, most of them significantly less. If you pay more, it means that you either have no insurance at all right now, or you are very wealthy, and will remain wealthy regardless of how much more you are paying for healthcare. In either case, yours is not a good argument against implementing a system that is infinitely more efficient, effective and sensible than the current broken down mess.

Chris Ogle 5 years, 9 months ago

elfth (Anonymous) says…

Do all the posters saying “don't take my money to pay for the uninsured” not understand that this is already happening?

Good point elfth

notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

merrill (Anonymous) says…

"It would be for far less money than anyone is paying today for such comprehensive coverage."

The new math, courtesy of the looney left - take what we pay for healthcare now, add on the 40 or 50 million the left claims isn't getting healthcare now, and somehow it will cost less.

Brilliant as always, merrill.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus (Anonymous) says…

"Your ideological whining is baseless."

The only one ranting baseless ideology is herr klowne, continuing to blather about reduced costs without anything to back it up.

"Doctors would still run their own practices, and patients would still choose their own doctors."

And it would still cost just as much.

"... and allow healthcare providers to spend more of their time delivering healthcare, and not dealing with pointless paper shuffling which serves primarily to protect the profits of insurance companies."

boohoozo would have us believe that your average physician spends 3 or 4 hours per day filling out insurance forms. Anyone else around here stupid enough to believe that?

And, as a provider in an allied health field, one that DOES have a government-funded, 'single'-payer system, I can assure you that such a system creates just as much, or more, useless documentation, paperwork, and red-tape.

"A single-payer plan is not socialism."

With a taxpayer-funded system, everyone will pay in according to their income - in other words, each contributing according to his ability and receiving according to his needs. You're right, herr klowne, that's not socialism - it's Marxism.

"Why would you do that?" [Referring to opting out of a nationalized system]

Why do so many people in Canada have private insurance, boohoozo? Oh, now I remember - because the Canadian nationalized system is killing them.

RedwoodCoast 5 years, 9 months ago

So lets just keep our health care system trucking on the way it is. No one is getting screwed by it, right?

RedwoodCoast 5 years, 9 months ago

Insurance companies don't make money by paying claims. Rather, they make money by NOT paying claims, meaning that their business model is set up in direct opposition to the purpose of insurance--to allow access to the exorbitantly-priced health care in this country. Our health care system is nothing but a dead albatross.

Chris Ogle 5 years, 9 months ago

multi- please tell merrill it's a joke. Wouldn't want to lose old cut and paste, now would we.

disgustedagain 5 years, 9 months ago

Excellent article, but judging by the usual insensitive and "compassionate" responses (see Pilgrim and tin) to those worse off than themselves, this country will never have decent care for the poor or the unlucky. Congratulations to Pilgrim and tin for never having a medical catastrophe or ever making a single mistake in their lives. Luckily, if God exists, their lack of compassion will be judged.

mom_of_three 5 years, 9 months ago

Even those with health insurance are not guaranteed lack of financial problems. Look at those who need thousands of dollars for transplants because insurance doesn't cover it, or prescriptions too expensive because insurance doesn't cover it.
Something needs to be done. I have worked for retail where insurance is available, but too expensive. I was lucky that my husband worked for a company with decent insurance.
I don't understand why anyone in this country has to suffer with a serious illness.

enima18 5 years, 9 months ago

"I don't understand why anyone in this country has to suffer with a serious illness." mom_of_three

Really? You cant understand when people have 14 children and are un-employed and can't pay for healthcare? I.E. the octuplets mom?

I don't blame her I blame the system that lets this lady think that the government is responsible for providing health care for her illegitimate children.

You socialists can complain all you want but in the end, the people who can hold a job, 92% of Americans, will end up paying for it.

Tell that last 5% to 6% of the 92% that that is fair. If you can convince them to buy into your BS then you just might be the next President.

notajayhawk 5 years, 9 months ago

RedwoodCoast (Anonymous) says…

"Insurance companies don't make money by paying claims. Rather, they make money by NOT paying claims, meaning that their business model is set up in direct opposition to the purpose of insurance..."

And somehow you think that would change with a government-funded system? With a government funded system, you have the additional problem of legislative budgets - the legislature gives them a certain amount of money at the beginning of the fiscal year, and when that runs out, they stop paying. Traditionally the funding agency just went back to the legislature and said 'We need more,' but with the way things are now, there IS no more to allocate. When the money dries up, providers will either have to deliver services for free or stop delivering services at all.

"...access to the exorbitantly-priced health care in this country."

NOW you're starting to get it. THAT is where the problem is - it's not who pays for it, it COSTS too much. And until we do something about that, the problem will continue to get worse. But if we get Uncle Sammy to tax everyone (correction - everyone else) to pay for it, nobody is going to care, let alone do anything, about those costs.

athena2235 5 years, 9 months ago

Health Care Access is a great program. But they have income limits. I also don't have insureance because I can't afford $1400 a month for an individual plan, but I also make about $2000 a year too much to go to health care access. So what about those people. We make too much to get help, but not enough afford insurance. If you don't recieve insurance through work, you have no protection.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

"If the government controls the method of payment, the government seizes control of one-seventh of the national GDP."

Considering we pay twice as much as anybody else does, they would only "seize" control of 1/14th of the GDP. The other 1/14th would go back into the pockets of the taxpayers.

"And you haven't eliminated any middleman, you've only changed one for another. An insurance bureaucrat for a government bureaucrat."

Medicare has many fewer bureaucrats than private insurance does. Your contention isn't supported by the real world facts.

staff04 5 years, 9 months ago

Pilgrim, considering that no one has proposed socialized medicine, your arguments are kind of silly. No one credible in government has proposed eliminating private plans either, so you'll still be allowed to throw your money away while those that opt for a single-payer system save while receiving the same care you do (unless, of course, your provider decides to stop accepting private plans because they get tired of getting dicked around in the name of profit everytime they want to bill for a claim). Don't worry, you'll still have the right to watch a quarter of your healthcare dollars go to overhead and shareholder profits if the government decides to allow universal access to a single-payer plan.

Fear not.

Ryan Neuhofel 5 years, 9 months ago

From this physicians perspective, most health care debate presents the false choice of "government single-payer system vs status quo" without fully comprehending the basic economics at hand.

We must make a clear distinction between “health insurance” and “health care” - with the former (as it exists now) being mostly a pre-payment for the latter. Unfortunately, the current debate on health care is solely focused on the “uninsured”, which is a product of medical inflation NOT the cause. The increased control of third-parties in the health care industry - with the intent of protecting people from any “financial” relationship with providers and “managing care” - is the true root of rising health care costs … leading to rising costs of insurance premiums … making them “unaffordable” on the private market. While the “uninsured” do have an inflationary role in health care, “insuring” every last American will not significantly reduce costs if the current system (controlled by public and private third-party payers) remains the standard.

The issue of government aid is another topic entirely. If taxpayers money is used to pay for "health care" for the poor, it should be distributed as a "cash" benefit (similar to food stamps) that can be used to pay for health care directly and purchase appropriate insurance coverage. While politicians would oppose such a plan, the poor would receive much better care and not be subjected to the political whims of bureaucrats - while also reducing the tax burdens on those who pay.

Dr. Neu

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