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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

July 6, 2008


Real Health Care Reform - Yes, it's Still Important

There are forgotten health care victims that almost no one speak of. By now we're all familiar with those 47 million (or so) Americans who have no health insurance at all. Likewise, we're also aware of those in our nation illegally who use the system, as best they can, to get care for their children, spouses and themselves. Unfortunately, we see them in crowded in emergency rooms or too sick to help in our public hospital wards as they await death.

It isn't exactly what we, as the nation of the free and the brave, like to advertise.

We're also familiar by now with those of us who simply don't have enough health insurance coverage. We see them crowd into their doctors' offices before the end of the year so they don't have to pay off Christmas gifts they purchased on their 30-plus Annual Percentage Rate credit card and their health care plan's deductible, which could cost them in the thousands of dollars.

These are the ones left out of the health care conversation completely. The thought process is that they have the catastrophic care the others lack, so they should be happy. Forget about the giant deductibles, the large co-pays and that "flexible" payments due health care providers above and beyond the amount actually paid known as "usual and customary". At least they have something... right?

Those of us with jobs that provide some sort of health care coverage might find ourselves trapped in jobs or positions without escape. Think of the average family of four with one parent working full-time and one working part-time. Assuming that the parent with full-time employment is lucky enough to have some sort of health care coverage, at least partially paid for by his employer, how tough would it be for that person to leave that job for any reason? How many potential entrepreneurs are out there with a combination of a dream of starting their own business and no reality of making that dream a reality because they can't afford to not have health insurance?

Too many.

And it isn't only that they have jobs they feel trapped in. The manner in which most small companies choose their health insurance provider - and remember, some seventy percent of all employees are employed by small companies - consists of an owner picking the best plan for them and their family. How many of you out there were asked, or even informed, when your boss changed health insurance companies because their doctor left your company's old plan?

I'm betting that not one of you got that phone call.

Perhaps I'm complaining too much. After all, I have a job which pays me pretty well. So what does it matter that my company's old insurance plan listed my handicapped daughter's doctors on their roster while the new insurance company does not? At least my boss can see that cute ophthalmologist he has a crush on every year or so.

Even though my salary, as compared to the median US income, is relatively high (not even close to six figures, if you were curious), the amount I pay above and beyond the "norm" for health care makes a real dent in my wallet, as I'm betting it does many an American. Each and every month, like many of my fellow countrymen and women, I pay nearly an additional one-thousand dollars a month just to be able to take my daughter out of my company plan's included doctors. Even still, I'm responsible for up to an additional $3,000 per year in deductible, plus the copays and monstrous sums past the "usual and customary" fee paid to the "out-of-network" doctors my daughter has no choice but to see.

Just a note to the "usual and customary" fee paid by the insurance companies to "out-of-network" providers: Insurance companies get to pay an almost arbitrary sum to doctors which they consider "usual and customary". Doctors and some hospitals won't even give you a band-aid unless you agree to their terms to pay for fees which "your insurance company" may not agree to. So even though you paid your copay and your $3,000 deductible, you could still be liable for additional sums which could add up to tens of thousands of dollars, or more.

Makes you want to invest in Euros or crude oil futures, doesn't it?

And according to most health care providers, they have no choice but to keep their prices higher to those if us who have to see them outside of their supported health care plans. They pay huge amounts of money to keep up with each and every one of their supported health insurance company codes and such and have to employ many people to do it. No wonder they have to make up their "losses" by increasing the price to those of us, they assume, can afford more.

Even if we can't.

They even take credit cards!

The need for real health care reform just doesn't touch those without health care, it touches just about all of us. How much more rhetoric do we need to hear from the likes of George W. Bush and John McCain who said,

"We’re going to offer every individual and family in America a large tax credit to buy their health care."
-John McCain

How much is he going to "give" those who pay no taxes at all? A tax break only occurs if one actually pays taxes, and the unemployed don't pay taxes because they have no incomes.

We know that the "plan" McCain proposes would cost the US middle class taxpayer an additional $700 billion each and every year - an increase of about thirty-three percent over our current $2.9 trillion national budget. Where will he get this money from?

US - the same people without health care insurance, or without enough, who do pay taxes

The word "reform" is only a word unless it's accompanied by real actions. And in the case of health care reform, it's simply time for those real actions.

-Noah Greenberg

In response to George W. Bush's, "Although these numbers are disappointing, the unemployment rate remains below the averages for the past three decades," Robert Scardapane writes:

Actually, economic analysts see the constant unemployment rate as a sign that we have not hit bottom. The best description of what is going on right now is that the economy is in a slow motion recession. Technically, it's not a recession until two quarters of negative GDP growth. But by the time, it reaches that point it's real bad. Many analysts also don't foresee any recovery until the end of 2009! Congratulations to Chimpy McFlightSuit and the elder Chimp McCain for driving America's economy into the ground.

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-Noah Greenberg