Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What We’re Fighting For

A reminder of something I blogged about last week: we are fighting for healthcare not health insurance.

The New York Times reminds us why:
Many With Insurance Still Bankrupted by Health Crises

Health insurance is supposed to offer protection — both medically and financially. But as it turns out, an estimated three-quarters of people who are pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems actually had insurance when they got sick or were injured.

And so, even as Washington tries to cover the tens of millions of Americans without medical insurance, many health policy experts say simply giving everyone an insurance card will not be enough to fix what is wrong with the system.

Too many other people already have coverage so meager that a medical crisis means financial calamity.

One of them is Lawrence Yurdin, a 64-year-old computer security specialist. Although the brochure on his Aetna policy seemed to indicate it covered up to $150,000 a year in hospital care, the fine print excluded nearly all of the treatment he received at an Austin, Tex., hospital.

He and his wife, Claire, filed for bankruptcy last December, as his unpaid medical bills approached $200,000.

This is especially pertinent in Tennessee, where 3 out of 5 people struggle with medical debt.

This is not healthcare or even health insurance, this is a legal Ponzi scheme, a highly organized and orchestrated theft from American families to insurance company profit ledgers. There should be a law against the “fine print” that excludes the treatment one needs when they get sick. People pay their monthly premiums in good faith, expecting to get coverage when they need it. Health insurance companies spend thousands of dollars trying to make sure you can’t collect your benefits.

Who wants more of that?

As I mentioned yesterday, private health insurance is for healthy people. Under our current system, sick people die.

The healthcare debate we’re having now is: do we have private healthcare with a public option? But really what we should be talking about is, do we have public healthcare with a private option. We’ve never really tried public healthcare in this country outside the VA; state and federal programs all involve insurance of some kind--Tennessee’s is provided by BlueCross/BlueShield.

We’ve seen the problems with health insurance. As our Congress Critters move forward in trying to develop a plan to reform healthcare, I want them to consider all of the options. If private health insurance needs to be part of the mix, then you’re going to have to explain to me why. “That’s how we’ve always done it” is not a good enough answer.