Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Health Insurance Reform: The Human Cost

Big Bad news today in the health insurance reform effort -- Joe Lieberman's threatening to be the one person in the Democratic Caucus to kill health care reform. As far as I'm concerned, I hold him complicit in the deaths of the 45,000 people in America who die every year for lack of quality, affordable health insurance.

Someone accused me over on Facebook of being too "emotional" about my argument. Damn straight. People forget the human cost. I have a second cousin, who I think more of as a niece, who's father died when she was around the age of 2. I remember that fateful day like it was yesterday. My mother and some of my family members, including my then-toddler cousin, were visiting the old Christmas house in Peabody -- a former local tourist destination in the holiday season.

I can't remember exactly how, but word came in that my much-older cousin's husband died, while we were walking back to the car. I think an aunt may have come to meet us there, to tell my aunt who was the mother of the at-that-point widow. He had died for something that would have been easily found if he had been given a test he had requested, but his insurance company denied.

It was a very tough period for the entire family. My older cousin was not the same for a very long time. My second cousin/niece had to grow up without a father. My older cousin took the insurance company to court, but it was fought and fought for so long, that my cousin couldn't take it anymore, so she just dropped it, to move on with her life.

On the other hand, my older brother, who had insurance through my dad, a teacher with a strong union, suffered through a heart valve transplant after battling strep in his heart for the better part of a year. It was in the early 90s, when the surgery he had was exceptionally expiramental. A lot of insurance companies at the time never would have covered it, but my dad had exceptional coverage.

Most people aren't in that situation, especially in this day in age, after decades of serious cost increases and benefit cuts. However, we easily have the resources to have affordable, universal coverage for every person in America. We spend 5% more of our GDP per capita than any other country in the world for our health care, yet have results for that great expense that are middling at best. There is absolutely no reason why we can't cover everyone with quality care and do so at a smaller cost, but that's not going to happen with the private insurance industry we have now.

The public option is key to getting there over the long haul -- and we should be arguing passionately for it, as well as other key aspects to insurance reform, with the exact furor we've felt when we lost a loved one who should have lived, if not for their lousy insurance, or the total lack of it; We must hold those who vote against a public option and health reform accountable, for they are then complicit in those 45,000 needless and inhumane deaths that happen every year.


Anonymous said...

the public option is a non starter because people don't think government does much correctly

sorry your blog has been destroyed

Ryan said...

The public option is going to win in the House and the progressive caucus in the House has said it will not vote for a bill without a public option. Far from a non-starter, it's odds-on a favorite for ultimate passage, especially once this thing gets to conference committee.

As for my blog, it's doing fine, thank you ;) I have 1 spammer which caused me to change the policy. He'll go away eventually and I'll go back to the old comment policy after. It may be easy for him to copy/paste some CLT bullshit, but it's even easier for me to ignore them...

Middleboro Remembers said...

The last poll I saw was 70% favor the public option.

Joe Lieberman? A Democrat? The poor man's lost it!

Great video on BMG from Billionaires.

Anonymous said...

I am a health insurance agent in Utah and run two websites that sell insurance www.benefitsmanager.net and www.dentalinsuranceutah.com. I mention this because in Utah it would be great to have a guaranteed public option to put people that the private insurers will decline for health conditions. Plus the way Weiner discribes the public option, it will be priced competitively. So what this means in my industry (I've been at it 18 years) is that all my unhealthy clients that get charged more or declined can be put onto the public option now. All my healthy clients can stay on the private option. Hmmmmm follow me yet???? How long can the public option stay affordable?? Who is going to pay for the losses of a big sick pool of people....taxpayers?????

Ryan said...

The pool is a huge concern -- that's why the Wyden amendment is so important. Right now, very few people in the US will be eligible for the public option as discussed in the Senate plan -- basically just people who couldn't otherwise get insurance and very small businesses. It's a pool that's small, compared to the rest of the country, and disproportionately tilted toward those who tend to be most expensive toward the system. The Wyden amendment would open up the public option to many, many millions more patients -- thus greatly expanding the pool. Other important facets for the public option will be ensuring that private companies are banned from discriminating against preexisting conditions and forced to cover most of the same things that the public option will cover -- ie health insurance reform needs to get rid of the donut and/or loop holes..

Anonymous said...

Joe Lieberman is a hero!

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