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LETTER: Everyone is entitled to affordable, quality health care

Thursday, July 9, 2009 | 3:17 p.m. CDT; updated 11:17 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

A majority of working Americans get health insurance through their employers. This approach worked when the economy was strong and businesses were profitable. The arrangements were simple – the cost of insurance was shared by the employer and the employee. However, over the past 20 years or so, the cost of insurance has increased, and both sides are being squeezed. Between 2000 and 2007, health insurance premiums increased by 76 percent. Employers must make the decision to pass those costs on to their bottom lines, ask their employees to pay a greater share, or drop coverage altogether. The choice was easier when the economy was doing well.

Every day, more and more Americans are losing their jobs and, consequently, their health insurance. Even those who still have jobs are finding they cannot afford to keep the insurance they have. How can business owners afford to keep paying more and more to provide insurance to their workers? How can employees afford to keep paying more for insurance when they are making less? The answer is that neither can.

Paying for health insurance shouldn’t force companies to go out of business, and it shouldn’t position working individuals and families to choose between paying for their health and their basic needs. The message to our decision-makers in Washington must be simple and clear: We need reform that guarantees everyone access to quality, affordable health care.

Bruce Horwitz is a board member for the Missouri Foundation for Health.


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Comments

John Schultz July 10, 2009 | 1:19 a.m.

"Paying for health insurance shouldn’t force companies to go out of business, and it shouldn’t position working individuals and families to choose between paying for their health and their basic needs."

And should it force our nation to go even further into debt providing health care for all?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking July 10, 2009 | 4:24 a.m.

Part of the problem is that "basic needs" for a lot of families, involves cable, cell phones, high-speed Internet, and a car for every member of the family over the age of 16.

All the above items are luxuries. Health insurance is as important as food, clothing, and shelter, and should be prioritized as such.

DK

(Report Comment)
Peter Hinshaw July 10, 2009 | 8:32 a.m.

Our great country will be even greater when everyone has basic health care. People who worry about the cost to the government ignore the costs to the government and the economy of those who don't have health care. They also ignore the efficiencies that can be gained in system reform.
People without health care are going to miss more work due to health care problems. Missed work is an economic impact. When their problem becomes overwhelming people without health care end up in the emergency room, which is the most expensive form of care. When they can't pay their bills the costs don't disappear, the rest of us absorb those costs, either through taxed based support for the health care provider or through higher health care costs.
There are vast inefficiencies in our current system. Those inefficiencies are wasted resources that can be applied to cover the people who don't have health care today. The current system promotes practices by everyone involved that are wasteful to the system overall. One example is when tests are re-run because the original test was done by a different provider. Emergency care will be able to be more effective and cost less when 47 million people don't have to use for their primary health care. Sharing expensive equipment is another opportunity for savings.
The US spends far more per person than other developed countries on health care and yet lags behind when compared on broad measures of health including life expectancy and infant mortality.
We deserve quality and efficiency from the health care system for all and this is quite possible with the proper reforms.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr July 10, 2009 | 9:04 a.m.

>>> We deserve quality and efficiency from the health care system for all and this is quite possible with the proper reforms. <<<

Agreed and it is sad when I have to watch people around me and across this country having to make the decisions of whether to buy food this month or pay their spend down for their meds because health care is not affordable for all.

Would you want to see any of your family members in that situation?

(Report Comment)
Kristina Farrah August 24, 2009 | 9:42 a.m.

Charles I totally agree with you.
I have seen my family members have to pay the large spend downs to have medical help. They can not afford to not have the medicine and appointments to the doctors. My dad is 54 years old and has been diagnosed with multiple meloma bone cancer. He has had it for about 7 years now he drawas $908 a month from disability and has to pay $214 towards a spend down before he is covered every month. He is expected to live on $694 a month. My mom become disabled with COPD, Nerothapy, and conjestive heart failure. She is only 51 years old. She draws $819 a month and has to pay $125 towards the spend down. They were married and living together but got a seperation and live apart because they could not make ends meet after the government took almost all of my moms money to the send down as a couple is only allowed a little over a $1000 a month to live on. Now they go with out meals and other things in life because they can not afford them.
I have cried many times because of the conditions my parents are having to live in and I can not financially take care of them. I have 4 children, going to school and working. I can hardly make ends meet for us.
It is pitiful that our government will fight and help another country and our citizens and country is in desperate need of help. We have way too many people living on the streets, going with out meals, children not having food and shelters because of the poverty in the US.
Elderly, disabled, and women going without medical attention and medicine. Most of these people eat very limited and go with out meals to have medicine to help them live. It is unbelievable how our country is and getting worse not better.
How can we voice our opinions to the government and et our point accross?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 24, 2009 | 10:14 a.m.

Kristina Farrah thank you for posting and it is stories like yours and mine that need to get out into the media more.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 24, 2009 | 10:17 a.m.

Kristina Farrah maybe the staff of this paper might want to do a follow up story with you on this article. It sure would not hurt getting your views out into print and on the internet too.

(Report Comment)

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