Thursday, June 4, 2009

Health Insurance Not Really Insurance Against Bankruptcy: "Like an Umbrella that Melts in the Rain"

Here is the latest health care research that should scare everyone to death. It's bad news for those who HAVE insurance. That's right, having insurance is no insurance at all against being bankrupt due to a medical problem.
Reuters: Medical bills are behind more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, U.S. researchers reported in a report they said demonstrates that healthcare reform is on the wrong track.

More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts, the team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine.
"Expanding private insurance and calling it health reform will fail to prevent financial catastrophe for hundreds of thousands of Americans every year," Dr. Sidney Wolfe of the Health Research Group at Public Citizen said in a statement. "Nationally, a quarter of firms cancel coverage immediately when an employee suffers a disabling illness; another quarter do so within a year," the report reads. "We need to rethink health reform," Public Citizen’s Dr. Steffie Woolhandler said. "Covering the uninsured isn't enough.

"Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," said Harvard's Dr. David Himmelstein, an advocate for a single-payer health insurance program for the United States. "For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection," he added.

"Only single-payer national health insurance can make universal, comprehensive
coverage affordable by saving the hundreds of billions we now waste on insurance
overhead and bureaucracy."

"Using a conservative definition, 62.1 percent of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; "Most medical debtors were well-educated, owned homes and had middle-class occupations." The researchers, funded by the Robert Wood JohnsonFoundation, said the share of bankruptcies that could be blamed on medical problems rose by 50 percent from 2001 to 2007.

It's bad news for the Republicans who want to EXPAND access to INSURANCE company coverage, since their coverage is no safety net. The curtain has been pull away, but do you think they care:
Rep. Roy Blunt , R-Mo., the head of a Health Care Solutions Working Group appointed by Minority Leader John A. Boehner , insist choice is part of the equation, he said. “If you don’t like your insurance company, you really should be able to choose another one,” he said.

Ryan as a supporter in the House — have proposed legislation that would create state health insurance exchanges and provide tax credits to families for insurance

After a decade in which the image of managed-care companies has been marred by stories about denied coverage and hassles for patients, health insurers have a 40 percent favorability rating with the public, according to a 2008 USA Today/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health poll.

That number was lower than the ratings for banks, airlines and drug companies, and about half the approval rating of doctors. Insurers say that, among other things, they’re ready to offer insurance in the individual markets to everyone, without regard to who is sick, stop charging people who are ill higher rates and cut health care costs.

The “Patients’ Choice Act” (PCA), The PCA will enhance patient and family ability to afford health care insurance and incentivize healthier lifestyles. As the name suggests, patients will have freedom of choice for health care insurance. Finally, the PCA would fulfill our social responsibility to those in need while increasing the competitive ability of American business. This is the right prescription for health care reform.
It would be nice to see the Republicans take this new information and adjust their positions on the health insurance industry. It should be clear that insurance companies has perfected and gamed the system so that they can make a their profit at the expense of the publics financial health. And same goes for conservative Democrats who are ready to throw in the reform towel.

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