Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Universal Health Care - Except for the Sick

Apparently, Massachusetts's new universal health care system is universal - except for the sick. Because, naturally, they're the people who need it least, right?

The new young adult plans contain some protections not included in the student plans, but most cap annual coverage at $50,000 or $100,000 to keep premiums low.
I guess the message the state is trying to send is "just don't get sick."

Or, maybe it's "screw the sick?"

We now have universal insurance, except for the people who need it.

We now have universal insurance, until you get cancer.

We have universal insurance, until you get a debilitating disease.


$50,000 goes like water down a drain in the hospitals of Massachusetts. Any patient who's stuck in the hospital for months is bound to pay way more than that - apparently, somehow, out of their own pockets. What's worse is the fact that people will think they have universal insurance, until they're told they don't - and the moment that happens is when they find out they have cancer, or are surviving a major health catastrophy.

With this kind of "universal insurance," my brother, who needed a heart-valve transplant years ago, would have had hundreds of thousands in debt before he turned 19. Nice.

Universal Health Care in Massachusetts is a gimmick. It won't work. At best, it's a bandaid. At worst, it's just corporate welfare that fails to fix any of the serious problems in the system. More and more, it doesn't seem like any of the people who need it most will benefit. Will the real slim shady solutions please stand up? Will any congressman, senator, representative or elected leader of any kind have the moral courage to do the right thing and demand a true universal system? The time to debate is long since over - people are dying every day because no one is standing up for their human right to health care. It's time someone argue for the rights of the sick, not the profit margin of Harvard Pilgram and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Update: To explore just how universal our new system is, read about what happens to employees who can't afford their employer's premiums and people who make just above the state's threshold for subsidies. The common theme? They're all screwed.

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