Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Uninsured Lack Group Strength To Force Health Care Change

Thank you AP for writing “No strength in numbers for America's uninsured.”

As Republicans advocate a free market system of health care, like the one that’s broken right now, this article hit the right issue:

According to AP: “…going without health insurance is still seen as a personal issue, a misfortune for many and a choice for some. People who lose coverage often struggle alone instead of turning their frustration into political action. Illegal immigrants rallied in Washington during past immigration debates, but the uninsured linger in the background as Congress struggles with a health care overhaul…” The lack of a vocal constituency won't help. The number of uninsured has grown to an estimated 50 million people because of the recession. Even so, advocates in the halls of Congress are rarely the uninsured themselves. The most visible are groups that represent people who have insurance … In the last election, only 10 percent of registered voters said they were uninsured.
Lacking a voice in Washington, even in our state legislatures, has given free marketers the latitude to say just about anything they want about how great shopping for insurance would be. Lacking group coverage individuals can make their own decisions, they claim, where people can finally take control of their own medical needs and decisions. But this go it alone plan flies in the face of group cost containment, the idea of spreading the risk, the very model on which insurance was originally based. It’s you against the insurance industry when it comes to negotiating a reasonably priced plan. I wonder who will come out ahead. Remember Sen. John McCain’s plan, the one that put everybody out there on their own? According to, in their article "McCain's Health Care Plan: Making Consumers Suffer More:"
Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario said that the McCain plan destroys the group market, which is currently the market that is working. He said that the group market spread health care across a group pool, which keeps rates stable and affordable. "McCain's plan steers us towards the individual market, which is broken, when what we need to do is steer the individual market towards the group market," he said.
You don’t have to be a genius to understand that, yet conservatives have somehow skipped over the obvious. Republicans will bring up the disadvantages of single payer care in Europe with stories of rationing and long waits, ignoring our own horror stories that include financial ruin and death. Like this one:

Vicki and Lyle White of Summerfield, Fla. lost their health insurance because Lyle had to retire early after a heart attack left him unable to do his job as a custodian at Disney World. Vicki, 60, sells real estate. Her income has plunged due to the housing collapse. Lyle, 64, has qualified for Medicare disability benefits and expects to be getting his card in July. But for now, the Whites have to pay out of pocket for Lyle's visits to the cardiologist and his medications. The bills came to about $5,000 last year. That put a strain on their limited budget because they are still making payments on their house and car. "I never thought when we got to this age that we would be in such a mess," said Vicki, who has been married to Lyle for 43 years. "We didn't think we would have a heart attack and it would change our life forever … the couple must still find a plan for Vicki.

The Whites' example shows how the lack of guaranteed health care access undermines middle-class families and puts them at risk …

What, undermining the middle-class, the Republicans? Crazy!


  1. With all due respect, it might help if you actually knew what a free-market system is:

    What we have right now, and have had since the inception of medicare is not free-market in anyway, shape or form. Furthermore, the rise of big insurance and their lobbying prowess is not free-market. Being stifled by the ever-growing regulatory agenda that comes with government payment is not free-market. And most importantly, having the government currently pay for 50% of healthcare is not free-market.

    Both parties are guilty of not tackling the issues that are raised by the opposition; talking past each other and creating strawman arguments are a common feat.

  2. Thanks for the comment. Since I've been buying my own insurance for the last 15 years, I really think it is you who may be creating straw men.

    Government regs provide a floor for insurance coverage. Without it, insurance would undercover everything, creating massive caveats so they wouldn't have to pay a dime. Without regulation the free market wouldn't work. I'll let you think about that awhile.

    Big insurance in a symptom of the free market and lobbying is the power of private business to effect government policy. I'm surprised I had to explain this.

    The government is currently paying 50% (your figure) because insurance companies have dumped the unhealthy or the unable to pay into the government safety nets.

    Both parties are not guilty (common conservative ploy). If Democrats were in charge, we would have had a single payer system in place under FDR. But then, you knew that right?

    The government systems aren't the problem. Private insurance, the middleman, is draining you and me of the money we could be spending somewhere else.

    A pure free market system doesn't exist for a reason. It doesn't work.

    But then, your corporate position speaks volumes. If I'm not mistaken, you're looking for small insurance companies free from regulations with contracts written in their best interest, profit motive included, looking after the sick and elderly.