We’ve been refused health insurance from the monopoly health care provider in our state. All three of us were refused. Irony 1: This same company who covered my successful cornea transplant in 1998 used this against me and declined coverage. Irony 2: Heather’s post-partum depression being successfully treated was used against her and she was denied. Irony 3: Leta’s two MRIs, which proved she was healthy have been used against her. Denied.

I feared this might happen when I left my day job. But none of us has diabetes. Or cancer. So I naively figured we’d pick up an individual plan at a higher rate than we paid from my previous employer. I figured it might be as high as double or double and a half the amount with a higher deductible. Oh how wrong I was. COBRA was five times what I paid. Five. Per month. We could buy a second home for that amount of money. And furnish it entirely with Sasquatch-related paraphernalia.

I believe the United States is on the brink of a health care something. I read this piece in the Kansas City Star by Paul Krugman (which ran in the New York Times) about how the free market doesn’t work with health care. I couldn’t have stated it better. The “free market” for health insurance is subsidized by tax dollars and is geared to delivering coverage to those who don’t need it most. Insurance companies apparently only insure the healthy. Or those who work for companies with more than 3 employees (and who offer a group plan for employees). They spend great amounts of money and energy weeding out the sick and needy. It’s sheer insanity. I can hear the conservatives cracking their knuckles to comment now. Save it. As a small business person recently self-employed, all the Hannity in the world isn’t going to fix this problem. It’s going to take creativity, genius and sacrifice from every side.

We qualified for a state “high-risk” plan (Irony 4: it’s managed by the same monopoly company that denied us coverage), but the premiums are about three car payments a month. Two if it’s a really nice car. And that is with an enormous deductible. Enormous.

I’ve read where Costco is doing a test of offering it’s members health insurance in certain parts of California which was started this past summer. Since every state has different laws, Costco can’t just roll out a plan for all their members. How crazy is it that a company with millions of private members, who are ripe for health care coverage can’t offer a simple plan across state borders? What if Wal-Mart or Target started offering customers health coverage? I think we’d see some interesting options arise, but I don’t think that is going to solve the crisis.

I’m a believer in universal health care. Especially if the rich pay more. If I make a million bucks a year, I should have a portion of that money go to those who need it more than me, just for the opportunity of making that kind of money. I’d gladly pay it. GLADLY. Whether that’s in the form of a tax or part of my national insurance or whatever you want to call it, it would be wonderful to know that if I didn’t need the coverage, someone who did would get the benefit. I’m afraid I’m in the minority.

The biggest issues facing universal health care in the United States seem to be the powerful insurance lobby (remember the scary ads from the insurance companies in the 90s when Clinton wanted to give a health card to everybody?), the failed notion that free markets and competition will keep prices low and the paranoia that universal health care will somehow be a huge step towards socialism/communism. Add to this the decreasing employer contributions to health care for employees and in the next 5 to 10 yearsof continued inflation of health care costs this country will be in serious shit. I believe that it’s time to put some brain power into solving this issue. There has to be a better way. Creativity, genius and sacrifice.

I plan on writing my local and federal representatives about this situation, but I don’t have a lot of faith that I’ll be heard above the insurance lobby. Individuals who need health care coverage have little recourse. If I’m part of a group, I have guaranteed coverage, but guaranteed at what cost?

So anybody have a great health care plan that takes cornea transplant recipients, depression survivors and very cute toddlers that doesn’t cost three cars a month?

  • James

    I am so sorry to here this, I truly am. Honestly, this is the exact situation that keeps me a wage slave, and believe me I admire you for you courage to jump off the chain gang.

    The problem with health care in the free market is it is a conflict of interest; providing health care does not work well with the notion of profit. The moment you become profit centric you begin examining what elements of the equation can be eliminated in order to maximize returns. If you produce widgets you look to reduce inputs and boost efficiency and productivity. If you are an insurance company you look to build a subscriber base of non-claimants and should they file you make every effort not to pay that claim as well as explore options to raise their deductible or drop them all together.

    Profit + Health <> Chocolate + Peanut Butter

  • James

    Pffft! That last line should have read:
    Profit + Health (Does not equal) Chocolate + Peanut Butter

  • HANK

    In my complete ignorance, I had no idea Americans dont have universal health cover. In Australia thats exactly what we have, and the fees to maintain health care for everyone (minus assylum seekers) is deducted weekly as tax(depandant on income). It works generally fine, we still have Private healthcare, which lets you skip the line for operations. But just this past week new Industrial Relations reforms were passed by our Senate modelled on the US, so i would bet our healthcare will be next. :( Im sure u could find a lot of people who will jump on the bandwagon.. good luck!

  • BeeJay

    You both write. If you could join a writers organization, or one for people who are self-employed, it might not be cheap, but you are guaranteed health insurance as members of the group.
    I’m middle aged and overweight, with perfect blood values and cardio tests and everything, have only been hospitalized for tonsillectomy and appendectomy, but because of my age and weight they deny me, too. It’s all paint by the number, and the bean counters are in charge of picking the numbers. Sucks.

  • Heron

    Hi Jon,

    We are in the exact same situation, self-employed in Utah, and totally unable to take out a second mortgage just to buy health care insurance.
    We should set up a self-employed-digital-Utahns corporation just to get decent group coverage.

    So far, we’ve managed to get along on a lick and a prayer, but I dread the day that anyone in my family develops any serious health issues. If it happens, it will probably bankrupt us.

  • Stuling

    About 15 years ago the business round table in NZ lobbied the government to remove pretty much everything in the way of protectionism to enable them to maximise their profits and basically have free reign. I found it deeply ironic that not two years later they were whining that it wasn’t working how they thought it would, and that overseas interests were impacting their abilities to make a profit.

    So. Big business is all for unfettered capitalism provided they’re the biggest (or only) fish in the pond.

    I used to work for a big Telco. It used to break my heart getting calls from the elderly from the phone booth down the street because their phone had been cut off. Usually they were only about $10 short on their monthly bill and it was their total lifeline to the outside world. Needless to say, if they couldn’t afford the $10, the $40 reconnection fee was going to be out of the ballpark.

    I absolutely agree with Jon. Pay more tax and provide everyone with critical services, healthcare and basic communication included. Profits don’t come before people. OK, that was the greenie/bleeding heart/liberal side talking, the more pragmatic part of me says the issues are much more complex (the aging of the general population and the decling birthrate impacting on the overall ability for the tax base to support itself) but there has to be a balance there somewhere.

  • Steve Phillips

    One thing that my partner and I did with our insurance was to setup a legit business and then cover us both. I too was trying to get covered as an individual but after checking into the business aspect, it was cheaper to cover us both instead of just me.

    This might be slightly different in your case, but you are in fact “a business” and could list both as employees. Leta could be an issue tho …

    In every major city there are companies that deal with this, usually insurance “wholesellers” of sorts — they deal with a LOT of different companies so they can search for you the ones that are more lenient on pre-existing conditions.

  • Peter Eisenmann


    I did the same as Steve. In fact, my situation is complicated by the fact that my wife has Cystic Fibrosis and IS covered by Medicare/Medicaid – but only as a working employee.

    We started a corporation and I am paid by my employer to the corporation and NOT as an individual. The corporation pays my wife and I as employees – that corporation pays MY health insurance (or did until I started working for another company that had group coverage).

    You can, additionally, set up a medical savings account through an insurer and that may be a way to cover your high deductable policy, as well as get a tax break and have money for other health issues that are attached as riders on any new policy as exempt. The health savings account can be used to pay for anything health related NOT just insurable areas.

    A corporation can get insurance for the employees easier that an individual. Look into that as well as joining the Writers Organization.

    Feel free to email me for more info. I helped a number of employees get set up with a plan like this at the last project I had. And NO I am not a salesman, just a guy that has negotiated bullshit red tape in the healthcare realm for a few years.

    Hope all works out.


  • Amy

    I need to take a minute here to say one thing:


    When I stopped teaching school (yes, that was just written by a teacher) to be a SAHM, we had to buy private insurance. $2500 per person deductible etc. We opted not to buy maternity insurance, since it would increase our premium by a car payment and you had to have it for a year before you could even use it. Cheaper to just pay the doctor. Supposedly, complications are to be covered.

    One emergency c-section later, and the fuckers DENIED my claim. Repeatedly. “C-sections aren’t covered by your policy.” Okay, how is an emergency c-section not considered a complication?


    (An aside, after a lengthy appeal, a letter from the doctor, and the threat of a lawsuit, they picked up the c-section minus the $2500 deductible and not including the $1200 nursery bill. Fuckers.)

  • Karen Rani

    I’m sorry to hear this. I don’t have a solution for you though….I live in Canada where our government takes care of us in the medical sense, even though they are bending us over and making us take it in another sense. But I’m thankful to have the health care system we have. Hey…you guys like Vancouver….move to Canada! :)
    I hope some the commenters here have a few options for you!

  • GG

    I live on the east coast, and don’t have employer-provided health insurance. I was able to get coverage through Blue Cross & Blue Sheild for myself and my husband for around $350/month, for an 80/20 plan with a $250 deductable. My husband has a seizure disorder, a result of a tramatic brain injury in 1999. We just got the coverage this past spring, so they do take pre-existing conditions. Our monthly premium is less than we would pay for his prescriptions without coverage. There is a state program for children here, so we have our daughter on that. I don’t know if Blue Cross writes insurance in your area, but if they do you should look into it. Or maybe move!

  • GG

    Another idea would be to get coverage for your daughter separately. Most insurance companies have a single person rate, a “couple” rate, and a family rate. The family rate is generally the same whether you have one child or eight, which works out well for people with big families, but not so well for those with just one child. You could try to get a couple plan for the two of you, and put Leta on her own policy. There are companies out there that will sell polcies for children only, due to all the divorce cases where the non-custodial parent is required to provide the health coverage.

    In my prior life I was an insurance agent, before I wised up and got out!

  • Kizz

    Have you checked out Here in NYC I have seen their advertisements but not done extensive research on what they offer.
    Good luck!

  • Tina

    My roomate joined this organization and got health coverage at a fairly reasonable rate. It’s the National Association for the Self-Employed.

    Also I found this link that claims to give you quotes from different groups. Not sure how reliable the answers are but thought it might help.

  • Jaeme

    I have to agree with the person who said that insurance companies are MOTHERFUCKERS. I was diagnosed with PPD and before they would agree to cover my high-priced, non-generic medicine (which, incidentally, turned out to be the magic cure for me) I had to try several generic alternatives first. Two of them made me feel even worse and almost put me in the hospital, where it would’ve cost them thousands more than if they would’ve just covered the medicine my doctor prescribed in the first place. It was only once my husband called the company and threatened legal action that they would cover the medication I needed.

    Just something to make you feel better, though, if you can’t solve the insurance problem…don’t worry too much about an emergency. I was uninsured when I had to have emergency surgery, and the bill ended up being over 10k for only three days in the hospital. Most hospitals have charity funds available and if you’re uninsured they will sometimes waive the bill. They did for me.

  • renee

    This is the exact fear I have after I graduate college. I probably won’t get into graduate school right away and I doubt I will be able to find a salaried job with benefits. There is no way in hell any insurance company will want me unless it is some “high risk” plan, which in some ways I am (all mental health related which isn’t that costly to them since they barely cover you in those aspects anyway, or at least my plan doesn’t). I guess I will be learning how to sponge off the government or something if I don’t end up making too much or even qualify for CBH or something to begin with. Gah who knows. As if I need this added stress. Insurance is so not my friend. I was actually crying about this last night, heh.

  • Miko

    I still work for The Great Satan. I don’t work in medical insurance but it still sucks the soul out of me and makes me feel like a btich. ‘Scuse me, like a motherfucker. My partner just joined a union here in CA and looking at the benefits he gets vs. the benefits I get working for the damn insurance comapny makes me want to cry. They screw everybody—including their own employees.

    My heart goes out to you. Good luck.

  • Emily


    Thanks for posting this. Sorry for your situation. Have you checked into plans from your college alumni association? I’m a UW-Madison grad, and they offer that. I also like the idea from one poster about setting up a company. That whole thing (incorporating, the lawyers, etc.) might pay for itself very quickly vs. the premiums you’re forced to pay now.

    The whole system is fuookad, but there are people working on it.

    I’m working on a business plan right now that will allow me to devote my life to fixing at least one tiny piece of this. I’m presenting it next week. Keep thinking good thoughts for me. Us experienced web types are starting to flock to this – please don’t lose hope.

    Good luck. Keep us “posted!”

  • Torrie

    Jon, I’m so sorry
    I wish I could do or say something to make it better.

  • Jon Sagara

    Check out your local Farm Bureau.

    I’m not sure what the differences are between UT and CA, but when I had to get my own health insurance for a brief period of time, the FB provided relatively affordable rates.

    Best of luck to you.

  • Leta

    I’ve emailed Heather, but never commented here before…but I’m in public health and just had to comment today. First BRAVO! So many people will read your site and even if only 10% agree with what you wrote, it will do so much good. Second, immediately call your state Department of Human Services and inquire about SCHIP coverage for Leta. I have no idea what the regs are in Utah, but most states offer some type of Medicaid based coverage for uninsured children,and the family income limits are quite generous. I have no idea what you guys make, but most middle class people are permitted. You will have to pay for Leta’s coverage, but I have never heard of an SCHIP premium higher than $20 per month. Second, if you can afford nothing else, look into catastrophic coverage for yourself and Heather. For a healthy young couple, this is often reasonable. It will have a large deductible, but you should be able to find one with a manageable premium. Third, contact the drug manufacturer that makes Heather’s meds and see if they offer free or reduced price pills for the uninsured. (Do this with any other maintence drugs you guys take, too. Many drug co’s do this, not because they’re nice guys, but because they need the good PR.) Hopefully this will tide you over until you can work out some type of more comprehensive, permanant coverage. Sorry this comment was so long, but when you left your job, the first thing I thought was “Boy, what will they do for health insurance?” I now feel bad for my pessimism, and am trying to atone. I hope this helps, and good luck!

  • Stacey K.

    Ironically, a brilliant idea was suggested during a recent episode of “The West Wing.” Allow Medicare to be made available to anyone who wishes to enroll.

    Medicare actually sets the standard for all health insurance. Whenever Medicare makes a change, all private health insurers follow. Medicare is so finely tuned its hard to believe it is run by the U.S. government. It’s complicated, there is no doubt. But even though their administrative costs are low, Medicare provides customer service like you wouldn’t believe. The Medicare website ( contains every strand of information regarding how it works and what is covered and the telephone customer service is nothing less that outstanding. The Medicare system is fully able to be expanded to include uninsured Americans with no limit on pre-exisiting conditions.

    Ironically, Medicare cares for those 5% of Americans who require the most insurance. There are over 40 million people currently enrolled. I care for my 85 year old stepfather who suffers from gastric cancer, parkinsonism, diabetes, glaucoma and high blood pressure. We have easily spent over $100,000 just this year. Medicare is an 80/20 split, but you can buy Medi-Gap coverage which covers the difference of any approved Medicare expense. Additionally, Medicare comes in three parts, A (hospital coverage) and B (medical insurance) and now D (prescription drug insurance). Those over 65 can choose what coverage they want. Medicare doesn’t cover everything and is not perfect, but the system is in place. It works.

    Unfortunately, the health insurance lobby with their buddies the pharmaceutical lobby make the NRA look like amateurs.

    To answer your question Jon, if there is low cost health insurance out there, I haven’t found it yet. I haven’t had health insurance in 5 years. I take my own blood pressure, test my cholesterol myself and rely on the amazing Susan Komen Foundation to get annual mammograms and the equally amazing Planned Parenthood who provide low cost gyn exams. This is the thin tightrope I walk.

    An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. It is obviously cost effective to provide the other 5% of Americans affordable health insurance. Thank you so much for your post and for actively joining the fight.

  • Muhammad

    Insurance in general is a legalized racket. Car insurance falls into the same category, it’s just that since the absolute amount is lower most people don’t notice. Until people feel a DIRECT, painful prick they continue to pay and pay and pay…

    Without insurance cars would be designed fundamentally differently.

    Without insurance car repairs wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg – and like computers you’d be able to install most worn-out parts yourself.

    Without insurance the medical industry would be structured differently

    Without insurance doctors wouldn’t be making 200k salaries and telling people to “come back for a checkup in 2 weeks JUST IN CASE”

    Without insurance caesarian births wouldn’t become the norm

  • Mike Swimm


    I have been reading both of your sites for a very long time but never posted.

    A few years ago when I first left college I came down with shingles (which is fairly minor) without any type of health insurance and had to give away nearly penny I had saved to cover the hospital bills and prescription costs. I feel terrible for you guys reading this post and can only imagine what it must be like to be responsible for a whole family.

    I think about how the hell this country is going to handle health care all the time and like everyone else I have not clue. The thing is although universal health care sounds great do you really want to trust our government to handle the health of your family? The same government that illegally invaded Iraq? The same government that refuses to acknowledge the damage that we are doing to the environment? The same government that endorses “Intelligent Design”? Their solution to depression is probably more church for crying out loud!

    My brother and I started our own business last year (I am a few years younger than Heather and he is four years younger than me) and we just hired our second full-time employee. Although it has been extremely tough we now provide health insurance for both of them (our first employee has a history of breast and bone cancer so you can imagine how that went). I really agree with many of the posters here that short of getting another job the only way to handle these costs is to incorporate the Blurbodoocery. Is it a pain in the ass? Yes. Is it fun/interesting? No Way. But my attitude is that we as Americans have to look out for ourselves as it has become abundantly clear that our government doesn’t give a damn about us.

    Since we set it all up ourselves we would be happy to help you guys out if you want to email me.

    Good luck man.
    Mike Swimm

  • dragonlady474

    I second the motion on the Blue Cross coverage. That’s what we have and they have never hesitated in paying their portion. My Husband has allergies that require regular medication and when we got married they added me on with no problem considering I’ve had cysts and tumors removed AND a few operations. I’d definitely check them out if they are in your area. Also, check with your old insurance, sometimes they will cover you at an increased rate for up to 6 months after you no longer work there. This may or may not be a good deal, depending upon what the increased amount is.

  • mamaPajama

    First, for Leta

    This falls under the Medicaid program and insures children under 19. No cost to you and the co-pays are usually $2-5.

    For you and Heather, an association might be the best way to go, but will still be expensive. I suggest you work with a high deductible plan, perhaps an HSA. Consider excluding pre-existing conditions from your coverage (PPD and the cornea transplant) to see if can get your rates down.

    You’re both writers, look into writing grants for health insurance. How about a part time job that offers benefits? Our local grocery chain offers health insurance to part-time checkers and baggers.

    Or you could move to Canada. Or join Scientology, you KNOW all you need is the right vitamins.

  • erat

    Ooooh, what a subject. This one boils in my gut every time I think about it.

    I’m essentially uninsurable (chronic — not terminal — illnesses do that) so I’m going to be stuck in corporate hell for the rest of my life or at least until something is done about the insurance situation in America. My wife and I have already been turned down for life insurance, and if I ever go more than 30 days without health insurance it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll never be insured again unless I can trick a company into hiring me without revealing my illness. With so much “innocent, just for information purposes” questioning of health during job interviews nowadays I think I may be screwed. Even HIPAA isn’t going to help me.

    If it costs three car payments to pay for insurance, sock away two car payments a month into a money market account (I recommend and after you have a decent amount built up start socking money away in investments that either mature quickly or can be liquidated with minimal fees. It’s time to get creative with health care $$.

    But hey, as long as we can pay billions to keep killing people in a pointless war, who cares how badly we rot at home? It’s all worth it… Universal health care isn’t anywhere near as important as chasing ghosts.


  • Allison McKenna

    Jon–I agree with mamapajama about the HSA + the high deductible plan…it is a viable option as long as you qualify for the high deductible plan. We decided to go that route while my husband was self-employed and I was working in an hourly wage no benis job. My son and I qualified but my husband who had surgery on his shoulder after being injured in a car accident (it just so happened that it was within a year of us applying for coverage), didn’t qualify. He went without insurance for a year until I found a position where my benefits covered him. Scary…especially since our deductible for our family (me + baby) was $4000. Gulp. It is completely ridiculus that is has to be such a gamble.

    Despite now having a secure position at a small liberal arts college where life usually seems blissful, the conversation of health care costs rattles the campus every year. This past year our premiums were initially proposed to go up 24%. The college expects an 8% increase yearly so the difference falls to us and straight out of our paychecks. Luckily there was some successful wrangling and the premium increase was negotiated down to 10%. Geez only 10%..for family coverage that is an extra $1200/year.

    Best of luck.

  • Wendy

    Don’t laugh, but Sam’s Club (WalMart) DOES offer health insurance. I had trouble getting coverage that was affordable in Texas and found the best plans through the Sam’s Club web site.

    As someone with chronic illness…I agree with your comments.

    Good luck!

  • bisous

    As long as you set yourself up legally as a small business, you can generally find coverage among groups that specialize in bringing small business people together into insurable employed groups. Ask your friends who are musicians or self-employed – they know all the tricks. I got mine through a company called SBSC, but this is in New England. They didn’t ask for any prior medical info or medical recrods. I just had to join the small business association, plunk down my premium ($250 a month for a single healthy 30 y/o woman!), pick a PCP, and I was covered under a major plan.

    The ones that don’t cover meds are much cheaper, btw, but depending on the meds needed… it may be worthwhile to cough up the extra. However, I’m a psychiatrist, so I’ve worked a lot with patients in getting the free medicine from the companies, and as long as your insurance doesn’t cover meds and your income is below 150% of the poverty level (you can subtract medical costs and prescription drug costs from your income to get below the 150% level if you don’t make it there on your own) you will get free meds. The bummer is most of the companies have separate paperwork and systems with similar guidelines, and it takes tons of paperwork from your doctor, which you don’t really get if you are uninsured, so it doesn’t quite make sense, but that’s not unusual.

  • Dr. To You

    Hi Jon–

    I am sorry to hear about your situation. The previous posters have great suggestions. I am a physician, and I have uninsured patients see me all the time. This is what I do for them: I try and get them free meds, Pfizer has great programs as do other major companies. I am inundated with samples that I end up tossing because they expire. Don’t be shy in asking for free meds. All I ask from the people is a quarterly office visit to document the need for the meds.

    As far as insurance coverage, I pay an arm and a leg for Blue Cross PPO insurance. But it is so worth it. We are a healthy family too, and rarely utilize our benefits. But, in a way, I feel my thousand+ premium IS paying for those who need it, the other members.

    Anyway, if there is any information I can help you with, please email me.

  • Bethaney

    Being uninsured sucks…I have been uninsured/underinsured on and off for the last 4 years. When I did have insurance I used to joke that it was “lion tamer” insurance because it basically only covered lian attacks. :)

    Anyway, I don’t know a lot about health insurance, but I do know a little bit about incorporation, being an unemployed attorney and all. If you want to look into incorporating, check out They have a whole section for small businesses, including I believe, forms. To incorporate in Utah, go to Also, some law schools may have business law clinics that can help small businesses wade through the forms and red tape. You usually have to pay a small fee, but the students deal with all the government bull shit, so it may be worth it.

    Good Luck

  • Lisa

    Your post resuscitated a lot of rage in my household about this topic!

    I’m in the same boat as you: left my last job voluntarily, opted not to pay the exhorbitant COBRA rates, and now without coverage because I was denied when I applied for an individual policy. I recently learned that California is, in insurance terms, an all-or-nothing state, meaning that an insurer can’t say “we’ll cover you for everything except A or B” like they can in some states. They have to cover you for everything, and if they don’t wish to they may deny coverage. So the stories like yours (and mine) abound. I just learned that my doctor’s husband was denied coverage because he was treated for a kidney stone several years ago. A kidney stone. Otherwise completely healthy.

    What was equally upsetting to me is that if I apply to another carrier for coverage I now have to declare that I’ve been denied insurance. Most carriers give you an opportunity to offer an explanation of the denial, but the fact remains that I’ve got the equivalent of a stain on my insurance record, because my doctor prescribed a medication for my migraines that works but is expensive and raises a red flag for insurers.

    The other comment I wanted to make is that some freelancer organizations do offer insurance coverage, but that offer isn’t a guarantee of coverage like one might get with an employer. All their “offer” means is that IF you pass muster with the insurance company you may be eligible for the group rates.

    It’s a huge mess. I’m lucky to have doctors who are just as outraged as I am and who have given me rather steep discounts after I told them that I’m covering my own costs. You might discuss this with your medical providers, too.

  • maya

    Add me in as another voice in the “MuthaF***rs!” chorus – The difference being that I suckled from the teat of the devil, so to speak, for five and a half years (helped people get health/car/home insurance that was better, not good, but better, for them). Believe me when I say that a) I’ve seen this happen to many, many families like yours, which SUCKS ASS b) look into the option of starting a “small business”/group plan – they actually have to take you, regardless of your health. Oh, and c) it is much, much worse when you KNOW how evil they are – they truly do NOT care about people – so many times I’d be “fighting” for my clients with these brainless corporate idiots who would read off Section 2343A over and over, without having a friggin’ CLUE what the hell that would mean for my clients. A few times I just said, “DO YOU REALIZE YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT A HUMAN BEING?” – sometimes it helped. You might also want to see if you can get on some sort of temporary (short-term) plan just as a CYA until you get the real thing.

    Oh, and one more thing: YEAH HEATHER! I told my husband that we must pick up this month’s Glamour asap.

  • grass

    Wow – this is so scary. In Canada, a recent Supreme Court decision (Chaoulli v. Quebec) said that privatising health care might make it more accessible. I wish someone could forward them your story.

  • Susan M

    You may not need to go through the expense and hassle of incorporating (although being an S corp does offer certain legal advantages if you’re ever sued). Take a look at the sole proprietorship structure. It’s relatively cheap and easy, and you can always convert to an S corp later. List Heather as the principal & that might open up other association options like the National Association of Women Business Owners. HTH!

  • sarah

    Wow. I didn’t realize how many people were going through this. I’ve just been denied by Blue Cross and Kaiser and am currently writing an appeal. The reasons I was denied? Depression and polycystic ovarian syndrome. The depression has been successfully treated for two years and my meds are generic. Everyone and their mother has PCOS and all it really means is that one needs birth control to regulate things (because, I’m twelve, and “period” just sounds like a dirty word). I read an article recently about depression being the number one thing that individual insurance companies won’t cover–in fact, even if you had a prescription for prozac ten years ago and aren’t on it currently, they’re likely to deny you. They don’t want any history of it because you know, depressed people are crazy, and fundamentally not good people. Appeal letters do often work if your doctor provides the right documentation–I’m crossing my fingers. I would try writing an appeal if I were you–it can’t hurt.

    I don’t mean to start on a negative note–rather, I’m just empathizing with you. And the fear for you must be greater because you have a child. I’ll be joining you in writing my state.

    I do have short-term catastrophic insurance which isn’t cheap, but it’s doable. And, given that I needed stitches two weeks ago and my catastrophic insurance covered them entirely, I’m glad I have it (it would have been $700 otherwise).

    I’m not so sure you’re in the minority so much as the majority doesn’t hold the power in this country. Isn’t there any way of organizing something like a grassroots letter-writing project through the internet? Seriously, you have a ton of readers and things get linked all the time–and there are A LOT of us in this country who don’t have health care and want it. Especially those who don’t have health insurance but work full time and aren’t self-employed (read: I’m an adjunct–great profession!–I have no options). What if we were all writing even just one letter a week? I know it takes time but…is it worth a shot?

    Anyway, perhaps I’m young and idealistic but what if all of us who read your website starting writing letters, and what if all of us who had webpages linked to your website? And good old-fashioned word-of-mouth should work too. It’s not as though change would come quickly but even if it takes fifty years, isn’t it worth the effort?

  • Strizz

    I have no insurance. My kids do, and that is only because NYC is part of New York. I pay $18 a month to make sure my kids can see a doctor, which is nice. The only insurance I qualify for (free or low enough for me to afford) is either family planning or pre-natal care. I got a tubal ligation and no longer can get insurance. the only time I have been insured is if I was knocked up. That is almost an incentive. Almost.

    Insurance is a whole bunch of bullshit, for the people the doctors…everyone BUT the dudes sitting in those big leather chairs collecting a big check. AAAAHHHHH America. land of the free and fuck you if your not rich.

  • Samantha

    Because I was signed up for graduate school, my surprise gallbladder attack and subsequent removal cost me and my parents NOTHING (might be that great UAW-negotiated healthcare GM complains about). Had I not been signed up for school “in case” I couldn’t find a job, it would have been upwards of $15,000.

    A dear friend, only 22 and recently booted off of TennCare, broke his leg right before Thanksgiving and the outpatient repair a week later cost him $45,000.

    Health insurance is crazy. Leta likely has options with the state, so I’d look into those. If BYU doesn’t offer alumni plans, BCBS seems like a good, basic plan to go with but be forewarned that they want nothing to do with Heather’s reproductive system.

    Best of luck.

  • erat

    Not to throw gas on the fire but there is another battle front that requires serious attention.

    In California (possibly other states), companies have been firing employees who have refused to quit smoking. Non-smokers have been FOOLISHLY applauding this as if it will never affect them.

    What they don’t seem to grasp is the official reasoning behind being fired: it’s not to create a smoke free environment, but instead it’s because smokers may cost the company more in insurance premiums if they don’t quit. This is not conjecture, it’s the official reason given for dismissal.

    Basically it boils down to this: you can be fired if you’re going to use your health insurance for more than just routine checkups. Considering that gainful employment is probably the #1 source of “affordable” health care, this should get EVERYONE’S panties in a serious wad, even those worn by non-smokers.

    If anyone out there lives in an area where things like this are happening, raise hell.

  • Lesley

    As a Canadian who continues to enjoy universal health care, you have my utmost sympathies. The Canadian government is hell bent on privatizing health care and this scares me to no end because the doctors of course support this…it means a lot more money for them and insurance companies are salivating at the prospect of making billions here. We’ve already privatized alot of the non-medical health care services and we’re finding these private companies really suck at cleaning, making hospital food, laundering, etc. Hospitals are becoming filthy places. Workers are no longer unionized and they are underpaid and furious. As long as I’m alive I’ll fight to save the universal health care system. I sure don’t want to face what you’re going through down there.

  • jen

    This may be outlandish – or just ahead of it’s time, but:

    Bloggers are organizing more and more, coming together, developing professional relationships – thus establishing this as a valid profession.

    Now, what would it take for professional bloggers to establish their own organization (functioning like the actors guild) something that could eventually provide reasonable benefits for working bloggers?

    Neccessity is the mother of invention, no?

  • Lesley

    P.S. I pay $35 a month in an insurance premium to the province I live in. My employer matches that contribution. This amount provides me with total medical coverage for all basic care (which is pretty much everything except cosmetic related surgeries or interventions) and 80% coverage for all my prescription drugs, physiotherapy, massage, chiropractic, naturopathy, and some alternative medical interventions (like acupuncture). If I get pregnant, I’m not paying to have my baby. If I have a heart attack, I’m not paying any more to have the surgery, but I may have to pay something for the after care…depending. If, at the end of the year, I find I have paid 3% or more of my gross income on medical expenses that aren’t covered by the plan (like aftercare, for example), I can claim it as a tax deduction. When my mother was dying of cancer, she not only received palliative care at home, but phenomenal in-hospice care. All of this was covered by Ontario health care plan. In the hospice she had four doctors and five nurses attending her. The hospice also provided social workers, a priest, counselling psychologists, and other services for the family. I was able to move in there and live there with my mother. I paid nothing for this. The gov’t covered it. This is the Canadian system. It’s also like this in the Norwegian countries and I believe England and Germany have similar programs. We pay higher taxes in Canada so that we can have decent education and good quality health care. People bitch about taxes but really, it’s a good deal in the long run and everyone benefits from it.

  • jen

    on incorporating – i hear that you can benefit more from doing so in certain states and i believe Texas is one of them. i don’t know what that would take, but it might be worth looking into.

  • Muhammad

    The whole concept of insurance will inevitably lead to the debacle one sees here. Any industry that is infiltrated by insurance INEVITABLY ends up with a product that is

    a. Too expensive for a regular person to afford because
    b. Prices shoot up enormously as every person in the chain from you to the product cashes in

    How is this system sustained? On the backs of those who pay more than they get out of the system. Multiplied by MILLIONS of policy holders this translates to BILLIONS of dollars of profits into the hands of: doctors – hospitals – medical equipment manufacturers – pharmaceutical companies

    What is the cure? Nothing less than ABOLISHING insurance. There are no “tweaks” that will make the problem solvable in the long term. Canada has it good for now but their system will break down too.

    If insurance was abolished:
    1. Almost nobody could afford to go to the doctor
    2. Doctors and hospitals would start to go bankrupt
    3. Pharmaceutical companies would start to go bankrupt
    4. Medical equipment manufacturers would start to go bankrupt

    5. People would start to change their lifestyles – more exercise, less fat, fewer chronic “rich fat person” diseases
    6. Doctors would lower their fees
    7. Hospitals would lower their fees
    8. Medicine prices would plummet
    9. Prescriptions would be required only for the most dangerous drugs
    10. Billions of dollars would be back in the hands of millions of people and out of the hands of a few thousand fat-cats (doctors, dentists, big pharma, insurance companies)

  • Dana Topper

    From 1984 to 1996 I tried my hardest to afford health insurance for my only child…. and myself…. While I worked at home. We were turned down by EVERYONE…. then Oct. 29th 1997 she died of a heart attack…. from a genetic heart defect…. Because we did NOT have health insurance doctors wouldn’t run test to find out why she kept having “seizures”. I remember the “Clinton” days and his promises… which amounted to NOTHING! I dislike, no hate insurance companies! I hope one day there is health insurances for all Americans…. no questions asked…. Good Luck!

  • Anne

    Sam’s Club offers health insurance, although I am not sure if you have to have just the Sam’s Advantage Plus card or just the normal one.

    Also, Blue Cross/Blue Shield used to have a PPO program tailored for the self/independently employed. Coverage for The Boy and I ran $150/mo., and covered his excessive shots, which was all I was interested in at the time.

    I kid you not.

    On the first day of school, when you have to bring copies of your child’s birth certificate and shot record, all the other mothers had an index card listing their kids’ immunizations. The Boy and I had TWO 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper, with listings on three sides.

    Our pediatrician is neurotic, apparently.

  • Anne

    Oh! And I almost forgot!

    You might also look into Utah’s version of CHIPS, the federally subsidized children’s insurance.

    Even if you are denied, they provide a list of lower-cost insurance options you could explore as options for Heather and Leta, at least.

    It’s sad that insurance in general, but health insurance in particular, has become a form of legal organized crime. ** sigh **

  • Susan M

    Correction on my earlier post – it’s the National Association of Female
    Executives that offers a variety of insurance benefits to members, not NAWBO.

    My apologies. Gotta lay off the eggnog.

  • Anne Glamore

    This is something I’ve been worried about for a long time and I grow more worried by the day. My husband and i are doing FINE financially and are insured thru his employer. But I am 38, and in the last 10 years we have had SEVERAL catastrophic illnesses that could have been the difference between making it and declaring bankruptcy: preemie twins, Hep C treatment, a huge spine surgery (the latter 2 as a result of a scoli surgery in the 80’s). We’re unusual in that we’ve suffered all this so close together and so young, but also in that we have been able to deal, so far. It is sheer luck that we have been able to take out loans to cover the difference in what was covered by insurance (lots) and what we owed (also lots).
    I can’t even get started on the “conservative” mindset on this– it’s more expensive for everyone to fix illnesses rather than pay for preventive care.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Tommy from Michigan

    I think it would be helpful for Dems and Independents and maybe “moderate republicans” to rally around this issue and get this done. There are many social justice issues to support and the shotgun approach just won’t work.

  • Ms Sisyphus

    I have a great health plan. Easy premiums. No deductible. Guaranteed coverage. It’s called being a Canadian.

    My daughter–who is eactly 1 month younger than Leta–was diagnosed with a 12 cm tumour in her abdomen 1 week after her 1st birthday. The day after the ultrasound revealed this beast, were were admitted to pediatric oncology at our regional Children’s hospital. No wait time. Within 3 weeks of the discover of the tumour, she’d had all the necessary test and the debulking surgery. She had an MRI, a CT Scan, and a bone scan and major abdominal surgery. No one once asked me “And how will you be paying for this?”

  • Lisa

    Our country is in a health-insurance crisis. Premiums are too high, coverages are too low, reimbursements to providers are too low. Too often people are denied even the most basic of coverage and care at anything even approaching affordable. I spent 2 hours on the phone this morning unsuccessfully trying to find a home health care company which would accept a patients insurance to set up home phototherapy for a newborn with elevated bilirubins. This patient has Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO. Not some po-dunk company no one has ever heard of. No home health care companies accept it. Undoubtedly due to low reimbursments.

  • Dr. To You

    Was the insurance company called IHC? I hear from the In-Laws that live in SLC that they own everything, and are building a massive hospital in Utah…furthering their wish to take over the world. If it was IHC, it sounds just like them–ruthless…

  • juli

    Welcome to my world and so, SO sorry you’ve had to join our little group rafting down a river called “denial.” Try being a lesbian in the heartland and getting your employer to go with a healthcare provider that will offer coverage to your “domestic partner.”

    Hmmm, when you tally up all these “groups” that are denied healthcare, I think you might just about be flipping over into majority rather than minority territory. Mebbe we need a march for healthcare…

  • jessica


    You might want to check Artist’s Health Insurance Resource Center –

    What a crappy situation. I’ve been in the no-health-insurance boat for most of my post-school years, and was lucky enough to not need it, but it’s a little scary to have to go without.

    Good luck.

  • Jim

    A lot of great comments and suggestions. Here is another to help you solve your problem. Think about joining the local Chamber of Commerce. My wife is an underwriter for an HMO and she writes a bunch of group policies for Chambers. I know, before I married her I used to have one because I was self employed.

    Many times you just have to join (usual cost should be dues of around $300 a year) and then you qualify for their group policy.

    Also, I just checked and you can get group discounts if you are a member of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. You can join at Dues are $99 a year.

    Good luck.

  • Mel

    You guys need to incorporate, and make Leta and Chuck employees 😉

    Maybe if Canada ever gets its act together with re-designing its health care system, our big brother will follow suit. (Yeah, right.)

  • Suzanne

    I’m starting to understand how lucky I am… I was born in Norway and I’ve lived there my entire life. And DAMN does the state look after us. Health care is pretty much free (we pay a small amount every time we go to the doctor, but that’s about it.) Serious injuries and hospital stays are always covered.

    The Norwegian government is run by a strong “equality principle”: everyone has the right to attend the best universities (we don’t pay to go there) and everyone has the same right to get the best medical treatment. The downside is the approx 40-50% income tax we pay. I prefer that.

    Guess this is not much help to you.:-/ Keep on fighting though. It’s tragic that the US doesn’t have a better health care system.

  • CrazyForHer

    I am sorry to hear this very sad news. It is unbelievlable that we face these problems in the good ol’ US of A. If we lived in Malaysia we would have free Dental and Health insurance provided for free but then we could also be publicly whipped for littering.

    I work for an insurance company in their wonderful IT department and I can feel your pain. I see how broken the system is and hope that things change soon.

    I wanted to let you know that although we only offer coverage in our local area you might check smaller insurance companies who offer individual coverage. Our company offers a plan for kids only, with low deductibles. I wish you all the best in finding a solution.

  • Shelli

    Is it possible to file an appeal to the insurance company? I am a former pediatric nurse. One of the main reasons I quit and won’t go back is because most of the hospitals and clinics in this state are owned by one company. (Can you say “monopoly”?) Not only that, they also own one of the major HMO’s in this area. Call me a skeptic, but I think that sounds like a conflict of interest. I couldn’t handle the manner in which we were told not only by the insurance companies, but also by our own bosses, who owned the insurance companies, how to treat our patients. I don’t know what the answer is, all I know that like most on here, I think that the whole thing SUCKS!

  • Leah

    amen! As a post-college student who does not yet have a full time job, I’m paying $130 per month for a semi-decent plan that will allow me to visit a doctor on occasion. It’s a PITA, and I’m jealous of my European friends who have socialized health care. I think we need that in America, and we also need rich people who pay and stop whining.

  • Tony

    I was in pretty much the same situation….self-employed, history of depression, etc. Here in New York State you can join a local Chamber of Commerce and they HAVE to allow you to buy group health insurance. I’ve got top notch coverage just like a real person.

  • Elise

    Wow, stressful. Unfortunately I have no helpful suggestions other than to ask if Utah has legislation requiring state paid medical insurance for children like we have here in Massachusetts.

    As to the cost, I know it’s sticker shock to find out the real cost of health insurance (ie what our employers actually pay versus the tiny portion we contribute), but someone has to pay. When I was still living in Canada, I paid the same monthly premium that I do with my current job (yes, there are health care premiums in Canada) plus my total taxation burden was 55% (income taxes + sales taxes). And it took weeks to book an appointment with my doctor, months to see a specialist etc. My father’s family is Norwegian, and their socialized health care system also comes with user fees and an even greater taxation burden. The difference is that while they cost the same, no one can be denied access due to pre-existing conditions.

    I believe whole-heartedly in equal access to health care for everyone, it’s the right thing to do in a civilized society. But we’ll all still have to cough up that “second mortgage payment” in one form or another whether it be through direct premiums or via taxation, because health care is expensive and someone has to pay for it.

    And one tiny grumpy note: I find it really disturbing when people compare the cost of health care to the cost of cars or other consumer goods. No one needs two brand-new SUVs or Pottery Barn furniture, but everyone should be spared the burden of fear that they will get sick and have to declare bankruptcy.

  • Courtney

    I’ve been a bit of a lurker, but I wanted to jump in on this one. First of all, congratulations on leaving your job. My husband was a freelance graphic designer when we got married, and I was a teacher’s aide (read: We were amazingly poor but happy). Then, we had a baby.

    Fortunately, I had insurance through my job for this event. However, the coverage for myself and our one child was my entire paycheck. Plus, we just couldn’t make ourselves do the daycare route. We wanted to raise our child our way. So, we decided I would stay home and my husband would get a 9-5 job since he could make more money than me.

    We tried very hard to find ways for my husband to continue to just freelance with me at home taking care of our baby, but we couldn’t really do it. I do recommend to you that you find an insurance broker who can shop around to many insurance companies and get you some different options. And, if worse comes to worse, you can get catastrophic health insurance. This is what my husband had while he was freelancing. He was a healthy guy, but he also skateboards. So, he needed some coverage. Catastrophic is easy to get. They don’t really any ask health questions.

    Good luck. Insurance companies suck. We hate them too. Even though we were fully covered for the pregnancy and birth of our son, we still paid an arm and a leg.

  • honey bunny

    jon, this makes me cry.

    i hope that you’re able to work things out and get some health coverage for a decent price. this whole thing is fcked beyond belief and it makes my liberal heart bleed a bit more.

  • Ariel

    I read somewhere (sorry, no links I’m lazy) that most American bankrupcies are caused by health care costs. No surprise there.

    That said, I have to echo the commenter who mentioned NASE. I used them for health insurance while I was freelancing, and while it ain’t cheap, it’s worth exploring.

  • mm

    We pay $685/month here in NYC for a family of 3 and have had no claims at all other than office visits in 10 years, except one pregnancy.

    I guess that’s 3 car payments tho, right?

  • Graham

    So sorry to hear your story, and unfortunately it’s all too common. I hear these stories almost daily from patients. I don’t know your history, but if you have any military service, you’ll be able to see someone at your local VA. (Sometimes patients forget about this.)

    There appears to be a free clinic in Ogden: Floyd W. Seager, MD Memorial Clinic. And here’s the association of community health clinics in Utah:

  • Sarah

    Regarding the realities of health care costs and the fact that someone has to pay for them–something I’d like to point out: while we don’t have a 50% taxation burden for health care, most of us pay a lot more in taxes than we can really afford, and where do they go? I think there would be fewer complaints if our taxes were going towards our own health care and education (read: our taxes would be benefiting us). The government takes about 30% of my 26K each years (and I don’t get nearly half that back)–it’s not cheap and I barely support myself (I do live in expensive area, not really by choice). But I’d be fine with that knowing that I don’t have to worry about extra, unexpected costs adding to the burden of living paycheck-to-paycheck. Wanting health care reform doesn’t mean not wanting to pay for health care at all; it means wanting our taxes to be used for us. Hell, I’d let the government take 40% of my paycheck if it meant things like universal health care or fewer people starving in this country. And since “somebody” has to pay for health care, isn’t it logical to say that those who have more money should be taxed more in order to pay for that health care? If the money is a need, and they have the money?

  • Leta

    I am truly a stalker, I have been living here all weekend…
    Here’s the thing: we are in desperate need for tax reformation. The proportion of taxes paid by corporations has gone down by 2/3 since the 1950s, which has shifted the tax burden on to working people and small businesses. Yet we continue to give bizarre tax incentives to businesses so they can create more minimum wage jobs- most of which do not offer decent affordable health care! This has led to crumbling infrastructure in things like education and HEALTH CARE. This situation will not get better until the tax code is changed, period. And there is no reason that the typical 9-5 worker should have to pay a greater percentage of his/her paycheck- we all paid more than GM did last year. Not only that, we’re wasting $60+ billion per year on a futile, endless drug war and even more untold billions on a futile, endless war in Iraq.

    Juli is absolutely right when she says we need a march for healthcare! That is the best idea I have heard in a long time. Obviously, there are a lot of people touched by this, so it doesn’t seem like it would be too hard to get enough people to D.C.
    I bet we could get the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to sponsor us…

  • Sharlene

    Two things:

    1. I’m grateful to be Canadian.

    2. This has the be the most useful comment run I’ve ever seen. You people rock! Hopefully something can be of use for your family, Jon.

  • Gayla

    My husband had back surgery 2 years ago which has prevented us from being able to gain health coverage.

    What I have found to benefit us and help cover expenses for our prescriptions is International Benefits Association that’s brought our expense down to $35 per month for prescriptions. I am on one that costs $280 without insurance – husband’s cost $150 without insurance per month.

    Other examples of what we’ve paid so far:

    Doctors office visit – normally $98 – we pay $32

    We have four kids between us – all are listed on our coverage. They don’t ask questions, pre-existing doesn’t matter. It’s a whopping $59 per month for this peace of mind.

    It may not be the best, but it sure beats what we were paying.

    You can find more on this coverage here:

    I highly recommend this coverage for anyone who has nothing or needs something to help offset their high deductables.

    Hope this helps

  • J

    My only hopw is that the Baby Boomer generation, who is known for their “squeeky wheel” ways (I say that in a GOOD way) will be the driving force in changing the health care system. I believe that generation will not stand for the poor health care benfits that will beseige them in the near future…

  • VTOL

    Amen creativity and genius. Sacrifice, I’m not so sure about. I sacrifice more than enough to the government already, with litle in return.

    I’m neither creative, nor a genius and am entirely unable to answer the questions below, but am going to pose them anyways:

    – Who pays for the transition costs to whatever miracle universal health care plan? They will be enormous, putting the transition costs that were discussed earlier in the year regarding the partial privatization of social security to shame ($2 trillion).

    – How do we ensure that we maintain the highest quality of care? Maintaining those high R&D levels will be tough for companies that know they’ll be receiving a big fat check from the government, as long as they maintain the minimum quality required by the government. It’ll become a volume operation.

    – How is medical malpractice addressed? We can’t have our cake and eat it too. One of the primary contributors to rising health care costs are the high insurance premiums due to the plethora of malpractice suits. Additionally, the threat of malpractice ensures that doctors/hospitals run the entire gamut of tests, necessary or not, further increasing costs.

    Again, no answers. Just questions. Is it needed, absolutely. Am I leery of anything that has the potential to increase the size and power of the government, hell yes.

  • Claire

    Yes, health care companies are motherfuckers. I used to temp at one every summer.

    I currently live in Germany, where everyone is required to have health insurance. Now that does not mean that the government pays for it all, because they don’t. Contrary to what some of my Republican friends think, Germany is not a socialist country. Now the government does subsidize it to keep costs down and does pay for its poorest citizens. That makes it more affordable. My German husband explained the importance of mandated subsidized health care to my Republican father. “Look, people who get sick and have no health insurance go to work and are not productive and get everyone else sick. If they had health insurance then think of all the working hours you could save.” Even my free market loving dad could not argue with that logic.

  • Ms Sisyphus

    I’d like to address Elise’s point about Canadian healthcare.

    “When I was still living in Canada, I paid the same monthly premium that I do with my current job (yes, there are health care premiums in Canada) plus my total taxation burden was 55% (income taxes + sales taxes). And it took weeks to book an appointment with my doctor, months to see a specialist etc”

    Yes, we can pay premiums for drug plans and private hospital rooms etc. But basic healthcare–dr visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, Er visits, diagnostic tests etc. are all covered.

    And I heard all about the horrific wait times etc on the news. But when my daughter’s tumour was found–at an ultrasound appointment that came one day after a well baby checkup–our specialist appointment was booked for 8 am the next day. The thing is, there are wait times. But it’s sort of like a neverending triage: Those who need to be seen first, are seen first. Regardless of their ability to pay. As a commited Socialist, I’m really down with that as a policy.

  • Kristine

    My husband and I have been in your shoes and it sucks. We both worked from home as consultant project managers for a couple of years.

    Be careful picking up insurance coverage offered through different associations (NASE, NAFE, Artist Organizations, etcO. We often found ourselves completely unsure of what they were/weren’t going to cover until the bills came.

    Finally, my husband took a part-time job at Whole Foods just to get medical insurance coverage (not sure if they still do the part-time coverage thing). Another perk of working there was the 20% discount on groceries. He was definetly pressed for time – but it really ended up being worth it.

    Fortunately, I now have a fantastic employer who provides me with decent coverage with only a small contribution on my part.

    Good Luck!!

  • http://none julie

    All of the suggestions are good. NASE is slightly better than catastrophic coverage. Kristine is right when she says the coverage is not clear. My boyfriend has it for himself and his grown son (unemployed). They do not cover doctor’s office, but they do cover emergency room visits. So the kid goes to the emergency room rather than the dr. The costs are so much higher, but mostly covered. It’s a racket, but it’s coverage.

  • mm

    By law, COBRA can only be 2% higher than your company’s cost (to cover their admin costs). So when you say COBRA was 5x higher than what you paid before, you mean than what your contribution was, correct?

    That’s the shitty thing about working. A lot of us work for the benefits. Employers pay a lot of money to cover employees. Even bad employers.

  • Floyd

    As an Australian, I have to say it has come as quite a shock to read your story and the comments above. We have universal health care here (medicare). We also have to option to have private insurance which covers all the other stuff like physio and high-cost dentistry. I pay AU$100 p/m for mine as it covers obstetrics, but my other half only pays AU$60 p/m. While some plans don’t cover pre-existing for new clients, people who already have cover can switch between different companies without too much trouble. Medicare here is funded by taxpayers. The levy is normally 1.5% of annual income (though low-income usually pay a reduced amount if any). High-income earners who don’t have private insurance also have to usually pay a surcharge of 1% in addition to the levy. This seems to work well… No one really complains about having to pay it.

    I really hope you are able to get covered somewhere (that doesn’t cost 3 cars).

    Good luck.

  • zetta

    I do not have an insurance policy for you, but I am in your boat. Also: I am a HEALTH CARE PROVIDER who does not currently carry insurance because I’m self employed and etc. I don’t have a Leta, so it is less risky. I have spent a good amount of time writing letters. Thank you for this post. Please continue your campaign for access to health care. Sqeaky wheels, grease, etc.

  • Kristen

    I have a friend here in Colorado who is in breat cancer remission at this time. She and her family closed on a house in North Carolina, got new jobs, enrolled the kids in new schools, then made the call to change her address with the nation-wide insurance carrier. It turns out that BlueCross BlueShield actually does not cross state lines, and that she was uninsurable if she left the state of Colorado. So, they are now essentially being held prisoners in the state of Colorado by the Health Insurance industry. Start a revolution, Blurb!!

  • Coelecanth

    It comes down to: are we all in this together? Some things are bigger than any one person and it only makes sense that we all share the burden. If that’s socialism then so be it. Mind you that word doesn’t scare me the way it does 50% or so of your fellow citizens, I’m Canadian.

    Good luck to you and your family, I’m sure you’ll work it all out.

  • Nat W.

    And this is exactly why I’m a socialist.

    My insurance rates are out of the goddamned roof, because I had a congenital malrotation of the bowel that was not found until I was 15. I had surgery, it was fixed, I’ve had zero problems since then, but it’s a stain on my insurance record. Bah.

    I hate this country. Seriously.

  • Megan

    I already knew it was flawed, but moving to Germany opened my eyes to the complete incompetency of our health system in the USA. I’m still wrapping my mind around the feeling of living in a country now that covers everyone, period. It is a basic human right, and it should be everywhere.

  • Susan

    K, so this may not work for you, but I was in your position, and it worked for me.
    I got a part-time job at Starbucks. It’s easy work, and if you work more than 20 hours a week you get slammin’ benefits (plus all the free coffee you can drink.)
    I really hope it works out for all of you.

  • Maria

    I’ll spare you my amazment and anger and political implications at your situation, mainly because they’re much the same as yours, only the’re not revolutionary here. I suddenly feel inmensely lucky to have been born in a country on which health services are automatically granted for everyone, employed or not. I just want to send you my love and my strenght and a lot of positive energy so you can cope with this situation.

    Soon, the score will be Blurbodoocery 1 – Health insurance companies 0.

  • cha

    I am a member of a health plan thru my company, however, over the last five years, my premiums have increased while covered services and prescription medications have decreased. The company sites that it is just to costly to keep paying what it used to pay for it’s employees coverage. But did we see the 4th floor execs taking a pay cut so their lower employees could have a decent amount of health coverage without selling a limb? Fuck. No.

  • tgil

    in my country health insurance is a freaking farce! i’m a documentary maker and i met with a little accident when i went in search of the perfect shot and did they cover my entire bill? NO! but the sucker that i am, i still pay my premium without fail. gaaaah!

  • LeafGirl77

    WOW. What a spot to be stuck in. That really sucks.

    Being from the great white north, I couldn’t imagine not being able to simply walk in the emergency when I needed to. It’s beyond me how universal health care is not the norm world wide.

    I hope you guys find a financially reasonable solution soon!!

  • minxlj

    Wow, I had no idea healthcare costs so much in the US. Still, here in the UK we have the ‘free’ NHS??? Give me a break…we pay for it on top of our huge taxes and still have to pay for dentists, prescriptions, opticians etc etc….we might as well pay for it up front! It’s this kind of monopoly treatment that means people are wage slaves unable to break free and follow their dreams like you have, or they end up getting screwed afterward when they could be paying for 3 cars…

  • Melanie

    I’m so sorry that you’re going through this hassle. Health Care should not be this difficult to obtain or afford. In reference to your statement:

    “I’m a believer in universal health care. Especially if the rich pay more. If I make a million bucks a year, I should have a portion of that money go to those who need it more than me, just for the opportunity of making that kind of money. I’d gladly pay it. GLADLY.”

    No doubt America has major problems when it comes to insuring it’s citizens and it is honorable that you would gladly pay more for universal healthcare if you were a millionaire. However, it should be a CHOICE to pay more. Not a requirement, or it IS a step toward communism/socialism. If people prefer a communist government – more power to ’em. Just go live in a communist country.

  • EverydaySuperGoddess

    Amen, brother. I have been ranting about this situation for a long time.

    I have health insurance through work (thank God), and my kids are both healthy (thank God), but nevertheless, I always feel two steps from disaster. And when cost of living raises are 3%, yet health insurance premiums are increasing 10% per year, well, you can do the math.

    The healthcare situation in this country is an absolute mess. Here’s hoping that posts like this will help get the conversations started.

  • Christy

    This is giving me flashbacks to when my family was uninsured for only a few months in between jobs and I swear I gave myself an unlcer worrying about it so much. It still makes me sick thinking about what could have happened to us had one of us had a serious medical problem.

    As far as a suggestion goes, I know someone mentioned insurance through an alumni program before. Where I went to school, their program is through GradMed – – and it looks like many school participate. I know it says short-term, but I think there are different plans of varying lengths and i may help until you find something more permanent.

    Best of luck – we are sending good thoughts from the frozen tundra of the midwest.

  • blurb

    Taxes are not a choice. They are the law. The very notion of pooling resources so that the many pay for the few is in itself a communal ideology. The problem is that profit is involved with health. Profit does not care. Profit allows discrimination. Profit, when tied to health care is, as we can see, a disaster. Spare me the communist talk. We already participate in a veiled communal program with any insurance we buy.

  • La_Rika

    Oh, shoot. So sorry to hear, and I feel your pain from personal experience. I was self-employed, very early twenties, in San Diego when I got booted from my parents’ insurance policy. I tried to get individual insurance from one of those huge insurance companies, and I honestly filled out my application and included a bout of depression that happened in high school. I was denied coverage by not only this company, but a second major company I tried, and a week later I was in the emergency room being prepped for an emergency appendectomy. No insurance. The bill was $26,000. I made less than that in a year, and was struggling just to pay rent in S.D.

    Long story short, when I got out of the hospital, I applied for another policy through the same company that provided my auto insurance (State Farm). And I “neglected to tell the whole truth” on my application, received coverage at a reasonable rate (about $100 a month) and kept it until I got a job with health benefits. I am not proud of not disclosing the information, but I had seen first-hand what happens when you tell the truth, and I needed coverage (mostly for an emergency event like a car crash or accident) no matter the moral cost. Tragic.

    But in order to reduce the hospital bill I spent almost 2 years trying to prove my poverty to the hospital. Ironically, I made “too much” to qualitfy for aid programs. I considered claiming bankruptcy. Eventually the hospital lowered my bill, but the stress of fighting and worrying took it all out of me. In the end I moved from San Diego to Virginia to live with my parents until I could get straightened out. But I would say the insurance crisis definitely changed the path of my life.

    Best of luck to you all. I find it horrible that people with enough balls to be self-employed, to strive for that old “American dream,” are the ones who can suffer the most at the hands of America’s f-ed up health care “system.”

  • Eddie

    Not exactly, Jon … while profits are a problem with Health Care, the bigger issue is insurance and lawsuits. For a company to offer health care, the amount of insurance they must carry is staggering. This issue needs, as you said in your original post, some creativity and sacriface. Universal Health Care looks good on paper, but doesn’t offer you the level of care you can get in our current system. The problem with our current system is that is isn’t easily accessible to everyone.

    This is a serious issue and needs to be approached with serious solutions … not with the Left citing that the Right is the problem and vice versa.

  • blurb

    The bigger issue is not lawsuits. that’s a talking point from the right. Bill Frist (amongst others) made that claim when sponsoring legislation. The reality is that lawsuits represent a drop in the bucket in health care costs.

    This problem is very complex. You’ve touched on a single aspect, to be certain, but it’s gonna take more than reducing lawsuits. This could be the defining issue of our time, much like the New Deal. I don’t think the current powers that be possess the creativity or political will to tackle this head on. And that’s what it’s going to take. Millions of people standing up and saying something. Millions.

    Maybe “Universal Care” isn’t the solution. But it’s a starting point. A goal, perhaps.

  • VTOL

    Taxes are a choice. You have the choice to elect the people that decide what becomes a tax and what does not, as well as how those taxes are spent.

    The notion of communal ideology says that the bureaucracy understands better than we do what our needs are and how to satisfy those needs, thus trampling the individual’s liberty whose needs don’t match up to those that the bureaucracy deemed more important. Don’t bring up arguments that this is already the case. I am all too familiar with our current welfare state. I just don’t want it to get any larger and robbing me of my ability to choose. In fact, I’d like to see it a hell of a lot smaller. If a tax neutral (i.e. cutting other programs – I won’t list my favorites here) program comes along, I’m all ears. My liberty is more important to me than any government program.

    That being said, I still believe some type of universal health care is necessary. I just don’t know how to implement it without robbing people of their freedom.

  • hopefulloser

    Try looking into Bluecross TONIK healthcare.

    That’s what I went with for my family after I got laid off. It’s not ideal and I can’t get maternity coverage. The good thing is that you sign up everybody individually, so one person’s conditions won’t affect the others. It’s pretty inexpensive and will cover the big things if need be. It’s limited but certainly an affordable saftey net.

    Goodluck and I have been there (still there) as well.

  • Michele

    Claire wrote:
    “Contrary to what some of my Republican friends think, Germany is not a socialist country”

    Really? Let me give you a little breakdown of what *I* pay, as a freelancer, for all contributions here in Germany:
    14% of income for health insurance (this varies slightly from company to company, but this is the order of magnitude)
    19.5% retirement
    1.7% nursing home insurance
    5.5% “solidarity supplement” (for re-building East Germany)
    35% income tax (varies; increases with income)
    19% VAT = sales tax (currently only 16%, but will be increased to 19% on 01 Jan 2006)

    Total: a staggering 94.7%!

    If that’s not socialism, I don’t know what is. Moreover, the more I work (i.e. the more I earn), the higher my tax bracket; fine in principal, but the burden can easily go beyond 95%.

    To be fair, the calculation for an employee is slightly better:
    7% health insurance (employer pays the other half, i.e. 7%)
    9.75% retirement (employer pays the other 9.75%)
    0.85% nursing home insurance (employer pays the other 0.85%)
    6.5% unemployment insurance (a benefit I can only dream of as a freelancer)
    5.5% “solidarity supplement”
    35% income tax (varies, increases with income)
    19% VAT = sales tax starting in 2006

    Total: 83.6%

    Do I even need to mention gas prices of $5-6 per gallon? Even if I earn EUR 10,000 per month as a freelancer (which is a lot of money!), that leaves me essentially EUR 500 per month in my pocket for rent + groceries + essentials for my family. How should I pay a mortgage then, let alone a car payment? Why should I even bother working, when welfare recipients in Germany get all of the above benefits plus their rent paid, plus a small allowance of EUR 100-500 per month, depending on family situation?

    My point is: it’s of course nice to fantasize about how great socialism/universal coverage is; the reality however (in my experience in Germany) is quite different.

  • fin

    Carl Camden, President of Kelly Services has some interesting ideas.

  • Candice Jackson

    Seeing all these comments only reinforces your prediction of a “health care something” on the way. I would estimate that at least 80 percent of the people I know and meet have no reasonable health insurance. I myself don’t, though I’m in grad school an covered by a “health fee.” I can see a doctor if I’m sick, but doesn’t cover anything more serious. I’m always wondering stuff like, “What will happen if I slip on the ice in my driveway?”

    My father is a cancer survivor (no chance of remission) and a type 2 diabetic. He works out regularly, eats a good diet, and is in better health than most people half his age (including me, I think). But because of his preexisting/previous condition, his monthly payment is around $450 ó and the deductible is astronomical. He’s lucky that he can pay it, but I fear what might happen if he ever had to use his insurance. I feel a lot of people are in a similar position: they have insurance, but they don’t use it as they should out of fear of their premiums going up. It is a totally non-functioning system.

    It’s such a frustrating situation, and one I feel I can do little to correct ó all I can say is that I thank Jeebus for Planned Parenthood and other public health organizations.

  • blurb

    Michele, while I know that universal care is expensive, I question your numbers. is your retirement contribution mandatory or voluntary?

    VTOL. Give me a break. Have you joined an HMO or are you on insurance? What “freedom” do you have on those plans? Freedom to be covered or not. Freedom to choose ONLY THEIR DOCTORS. That is not freedom. You are mistaken to label it as such. Again, agenda pimping and partisan talking points aren’t going to move this forward.

  • VTOL

    Blurb, you’re confusing the issue, as well as spouting off about ‘talking points’ every time you read something you disagree with. I said nothing concerning HMOs or insurance. I was speaking about the freedom of choice. Freedom to choose is not a talking point. By creating additional taxes, I have less freedom to choose what I believe is financially best for me and my family. I’m a small ‘l’ libertarian and this is not a talking point. It is fundamental to the political theory behind the movement (albeit a small one in these days of big government).

    Again, do I think something needs to be done, absolutely, but not at the expense of lessening my liberty. This is where the creativity and genius you originally posted about come into play. A compromise that is ultimately tax neutral by downsizing or eliminating some programs in order to create a much needed benefit for those who cannot get health insurance/coverage any other way.

  • Amanda8

    I see that you have a million comments already, but I wanted to chime in. I am a fully “Hannitized” conservative, and I agree with you whole-heartedly. I have a very healthy family. I also have a son with a rare form of hemophilia, but he has never had a problem – yet. My husband is in a residency right now, but he finishes in June. At that point he will open his own practice. What kind of country do we live in when 2 healthy professionals who pay way more than their fair share of taxes can’t afford health insurance? I may have to go back to work full time just so that we can once more be covered under federal health insurance. Totally sucks.

  • KJ

    Yeah, there’s a way around it–you don’t give insurance companies any of your prior health information. They’d have to subpoena your medical records to get it. NOT helpful if you apply to the same provider as you were with previously. But it’s an unfair system, so why fight fair when they don’t? Don’t give them ammunition.

  • Cazzab

    I did not realise the extent to which the US healthcare system was broken until I moved here 2 years ago. I have spent many years working in the NHS in the UK, and nothing has prepared me for the mountain of health needs that are unmet in the USA.

    There are serious problems with the NHS in Britain, but you would never get people being excluded from healthcare because of their inability to pay. I have heard numerous horror stories of people caught up in catastrophic health events who go without medical care because of cost here in California.

    Although the exhorbitant price of health insurance premiums astounds me, what I find even more remarkable is that there is no truly widespread outcry about the gross unfairness built into the system.

  • mihow

    When Toby and I worked in San Francisco, we didn’t have health insurance because we missed the window to sign up. Whatever. Pain.

    When we moved to NYC we got insurance through Toby Joe’s job. However, we would not be covered for any major issues since we didn’t have existing insurance. Basically, they would not cover us because we couldn’t prove by way of another insurance agency that we didn’t have any pre-existing medical problems. (Maybe you would have had better luck had you said you had no previous insurance. This is only just occurring to me. I have no idea.) We had a 6 month window where they would cover doctor’s appointments but nothing more. So we just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. After six months, we proved to be healthy individuals and they covered us again.

    When he left that job and took another job with a new design firm who is based out of Boston but decided to open a NYC office as well as a San Francisco one, we didn’t have insurance for a bit while they worked out their incorporated status. Anticipating a long wait, I began to shop around.

    I called all the big ones. The one woman quoted an amount to me (more than our NYC monthly rent). Here’s how the conversation went.

    “HI, how much is it for my husband and I to get PPO coverage?”

    (Answered a few questions about my age, how much we drink, smoke, etc.)

    “For what you had before it will cost 1300 dollars a month.”


    “Hello, ma’am, are you still there?”

    “Yes, I am here.”

    “Ah. Yeah, most people hang up at that point.”

    “Yeah, I can’t afford that. We can’t afford that. That’s more than our rent.”

    “I know. There is one other option.”


    “You pay 265 a month and we cover any emergency procedures. That way, should anything go horrible wrong, you’re insured. You, however, pay all doctor’s visits, etc.”

    That’s what we did up until Toby Joe insurance came through via his new job. Now, we’re fine. We have a PPO and can walk into any doctor’s office we want (out of network and everything.) It includes dental, too. But what a pain it was getting to this point. And we both have full-time jobs now. Before, I worked from home and he contracted. Sometimes, I wonder if you’re better off just taking as much money as you can and putting it in a Roth Fund of some sort. Pay out of pocket for doctors visits and keep money on hand should anything come ups. However, should something go horribly wrong it’d most likely break the bank if not bankrupt someone.

    On the flip-side, if nothing ever goes wrong, you end up thinking like my father. Recently, he calculated how much he spent over the years on insuring our family. It came out to something astronomical. He then calculated how much we spent over the years on doctors, even major operations. In the end, he’d have been better off paying everything personally and passing on the corporate health insurance.

    But hindsight is one thing. Taking that kind of a risk can prove devastating.

    I know it’s a NYC based site, Does Utah have anything like HIP or Working Today? ( A freelancer I work with uses them. Affordable, more or less.

  • Andy

    Very sorry to hear that. I am a small business(restaurant) owner and I was married(now divorced) to a woman who had a health plan. When we divorced, I had to get my own health insurance. Mine is not so bad as a monthly payment, but it is high deductible. I agree that if I was rich, I wouldn’t mind a portion of my payments/deductible going for those in need. I hate the great inequalities in this country between those that are rich and those in need or poor. As a side note: The people with money that come into my restaurant are usually the worst tippers :(

  • Donovan Phillips

    Healthcare isn’t necessary. Just ask Tom Cruise what to do!

    (sorry, couldn’t help it)

  • mihow

    One more thing, I agree with many of the above suggestions, become an LLC.

  • http://www/ Angela

    I agree that it’s insane, but I sell health insurance and here’s what I see most of the time: our company won’t insure anyone with more than 2 violations per household, not per driver in the past year. Same goes for health insurance: if you had a cold last year, there’s a chance that they may have to pay out a claim, and that would mean less money for the company. I think it’s complete and total crap, but there’s nothing that we can do about it.
    I would try checking out some independent insurance companies. They can usually write those who have been declined by another company, although I don’t know how the rates would compare.
    I see it everyday and it makes me sad that those who need health insurance are the ones who cannot get it. Cobra is ridiculous, and there are lots of jobs that do not offer health coverage to their employees. That makes it really tough.

  • Angela

    One more thing: In OK, at least you cannot be denied care because you are unable to pay. I belive there is some sort of law that states that a health care provider cannot deny coverage to someone in need.
    We have a ginormous deductible, and we just have to make monthly payments on our health care the same as any other bill in addition to our health care coverage

  • hibiscusfire

    Sorry to hear about your coverage. It’s very scary. There’s a program here in California that pays for children’s insurance, maybe there is something similar in Utah. Also, there have been a few laws passed recently that say that insurance companies can’t deny health insurance to you if you are eligible for COBRA (within certain guidelines) I’d suggest checking them out just in case, they are HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws.

    The lack of access to health care in the richest and most powerful country in the world _is_ going to cause something to happen. If it happens on its own, it will be messy and the people who are the least powerful will likely get most screwed. If we help it happen, there is a chance that we can bring about a change for the better.

    I’m a medical student who is very apprehensive about the world I will be practicing medicine in. I personally believe that access to medical care is a basic human right, especially since doctors have complete power over life-saving medications and technology. (Even if you choose to provide your own healthcare, researched the medications you needed to buy and the lab tests you would need to perform, you would not be allowed to do these things. Your “life/limb” depend on your ability to pay.)

    Here are a few embarrassing but true statistics on the quality of care in our country.
    – There are more than 40 million uninsured and 80% of them are employed or family members of those employed.
    – A person who is making two-three times over the poverty level is expected to spend more than 10% of their income on insurance and could still be forced into debt by an illness because of high co-insurance costs.
    – companies like walmart that provide substandard benefits have the highest number of their employees on state poverty support programs. (basically, walmart enjoys multi-million dollar profits while taxpayers pick up the tab)

    – and here’s one for those who still believe that “government” is the most bureaucratic organization :

    Percent of every dollar spent on NON direct health care expenses (administration, paper work, billing, etc.):
    Health Net $0.29
    Blue Cross $0.25
    Kaiser $0.11
    Medicare $0.04

  • mm

    Blurb, can you give me an idea of what payment you’re talking here? 2 car payments is what — $500-600? I agree that healthcare is a mess, but considering what you guys have been spending in healthcare over the last few years, I think you better take it.

    Or, let me put it this way: How much did the cornea transplant + a pregnancy + heather’s treatment + 2 MRI cost the insurance company? Nevermind all the office visits a pregnancy and baby require.

    Or, let me try it this way: Insurance is crazy in America these days, but health care costs are CRAZIER. If I were you, I’d pay the 6-8 grand a year. Let us know what you decide to do.

  • hibiscusfire

    as a med student who just took a healthcare economics final exam this morning, i thought this might be relevant: it is one of the exam questions we had today (yes, i know it’s easy basic math, but i think the point was to get future doctors to realize what it means for a “lower middle class” american to get health care):

    “sandy works at store clerk and earns $25,000 before taxes. her employer does not offer insurance, and sandy pays for her own coverage at $500 a month. in july, she finds a breast lump, which is biopsied and determined to be an in situ carcinoma. it is removed and she does not need chemo or radiation, but the cost of her treatments are $75,000. if sandy’s health insurance has a $5000 deductable and she is required to pay 20% co-insurance, how much will her health care cost her this year? (assuming that she has no other medical conditions)

    answer, of course, is $25,000.

    the scary thing is that the question didn’t address what sandy will do about her health insurance once her premiums skyrocket (because she now has a history of breast cancer).

  • Annejelynn

    my honey-man’s son was denied coverage because he has a rather large (silver dollar size is all), hairy birthmark on his right ankle – otherwise perfectly healthy. No coverage. Totally baffled.

  • Marcus

    Have having repeated problems with a broken bone that didn’t heal properly and eventually required surgery to fix (the bone had to be screwed back together) I can say that health insurance would’ve been nice, especially since I’m unemployed. I was very lucky in that my family was able to help with the bills (roughly $5,000 to $6,000 so far).

    Is it possible to have universal (national if you prefer) health care without bankrupting the country or increasing the taxes so much that people – rich or poor – can’t afford anything else?

  • lemissa

    I read this post comments last night and all day I’ve been thinking about it. I have no answers or solutions but I keep thinking how what is happening to you and millions of others is unethical.

    When Mother Jones held up children’s hands with missing fingers that worked in factories, people came to see that child labor is wrong and it was legislated out of existence here. But when a woman’s son dies today b/c he couldn’t get the proper tests run due to lack of insurance, what do we do? What is happening to my country?

    The free market is a false god.

  • jessica

    There really isn’t a need to increase taxes in order to nationalize health care – it would just need to be PRIORITIZED. We’re spending $200 M/day on the war in Iraq alone. If you moved just a small fraction of the Pentagon’s budget into a national healthcare budget, the problem would be solved, no additional taxes needed.

    What it really comes down to is that the 30-something million Americans (we’ll focus on them for now, talk about the immigrants later) who don’t have health insurance are not lobbying effectively or organzing effectively enough to overpower the health care industry lobby (which wants to keep things privatized and profitable) and the war industry lobby.

    Why is that? What are we going to do about it?

    If every person without health insurance made daily phone calls and meetings with their elected officials until the health care crisis was resolved, we’d probably have universal health care legislation passed within a year and it would be implemented within five.

  • hibiscusfire

    That is a very difficult issue, Marcus.

    It’s true, health care is expensive and every country that has a national health care system spends a lot of money on it. Many of these countries have deficits. (Of course, none of them have a deficit as big as ours.)

    However, if you don’t have guaranteed health care in, an illness can completely derail your life (this includes people who pay for their own health care and can see their rates astronomically rise). 1 out of 100 women gets breast cancer each year. 1 out 100 men get prostate cancer each year. And there are many other common cancers out there, as well as chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes and heart disease that affect an astounding number of people around us. At some point in our lives we will all get one or more of these, and if we don’t have insurance, the disease and its treatment will permanently alter our lives, as well as the lives of those who are financial dependent on us.

    Now imagining that scenerio playing out in 1 out of 4 households in the United States. It is not a problem that this country can ignore.

    The solution to our health care crisis will probably not be a perfect one, but it will be better than nothing. Scare tactics against nationalized healthcare systems are ill-informed, at best.

    Here are some well-researched facts that counter many of them:
    – The US spends the most on healthcare than any other country, but has lower life expectancy and higher infant mortality than any country with universal health care.
    – Satisfaction rates for health care services are higher in Canada, the UK, and Germany than in the US.
    – Waiting times for elective surgeries in these countries are much longer than in the US, but average emergency room watiing times are shorter.
    – Pharmaceuticals cost 40-50% less in countries with governmental health care because the governments can buy in bulk and negotiate the prices. (Don’t worry, pharm companies aren’t suffering. They’ve had the highest profit margins, after oil companies, for the past few years)
    – The costs (as a percentage of total) of health care administration in the US is 2-5 times higher than in countries with nationalized health care systems. (A large chunk of health care money is going towards paying for profit insurance companies. Another big chunk is spent by doctors who have to hire administrators to do the enormous amounts of paperwork require for reimbursements).

  • Al

    Why don’t you move to a country with universal healthcare and tax rates of 70% on all income? I believe Sweden, Canda, and Belgium just to name a few have what you are looking for. I think it just that you need to live in a society that agrees with you and you can redistribute the wealth with these other countrys instead of trying to change a system that people in the USA want, which is to have the most modern up to date second to none health care in the world. I love when people say if I earned a million dollars a year I would gladly pay more for everything to cover all those who can’t afford it. What a joke. Once you pay up to 60%-70% total taxes on that kind of income state and federal. You will think twice about that comment because you will still then drive the same Yugo and live in the shoebox house and work for that million dollars so others who don’t do anything will have more than you. Think through your comments before blathering.

  • Sarah

    In response to Al:

    Before taxes, I make roughly 30K; after taxes, about 22K. Okay, so this is nearly 30% of my income that’s taxed (and to be fair, I’m probably taxed a little more than others in my income bracket because I’m an adjunct who holds two part-time contracts that actually equal more than full time). Okay, so after my taxes, I have 22K for the year. This means less than $2000 a month. I don’t have health insurance because my job doesn’t give it; I’m not one of those “others who don’t do anything [and] will have more than you.” I work nearly 70 hours a week.

    Let’s pretend you make $200,000 a year. Let’s pretend that you pay 70% of that in taxes (and that’s to use your example. No one in the United States pays 70% in income taxes). Still, if you did, you’be be left with $60,000. May not seem like much but it’s still three times more than I have. And you have health insurance. And you’ll at least be able to drive a Corolla with a cd player. C’mon, Yugo?

    The point is, those who have more will still have more, even after contributing to universal health care.

    And what if we were both taxed 70%? Then I’d have 9K and you’d still have 60K. That’s pretty disproportionate to me.

    The poor aren’t trying to take money away from those who have it; the poor just want to support themselves.

    And regarding your claim that we have second-to-none health care: this is only true for those who have enough money to pay for it.

  • hibiscusfire


    That makes no sense.

    Does that mean that if you don’t agree with any of the laws in this country, you should leave, too?

    By the way, 60-70% of Americans say that they want to universal health care as long as they don’t have less access to doctors than they have today (which, would be pretty hard to do).

    So that would mean you are in the minority and should probably be looking into buying luggage.

  • Marcus

    Hibiscusfire – Where did you find that 60%-70% statistic? Just curious.

    Speaking of statistics/leaving the country… I’d like to know how many people actually left the country (like they said they would) after the 2000 & 2004 election.

  • hibiscusfire

    Here’s the link:

    As I said, 60-70% as long as they don’t see a decrease in access to care. (Numbers drop if people are told that they will have less access.)

    You can get a lot more info on different universal health models (contrary to common beliefs, they are all very different), if you google “2003 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey”.

  • Marcus


    Since the information on that site is a little over 2 years old… I wonder if the numbers would be the same now. Plus, only 1,000 people were polled. 1,000 out of a country of (as of 7/1/03) 290,788,976 people*. I wonder what the other 290,787,976 people think about it.

    I’m not trying to argue or discredit anything but polls shouldn’t be taken as the gospel truth. Especially when they only poll 1,000 out of a popultaion of 290,788,976. Besides statistics can (and usually will) be manipulated to show whatever the people gathering them want them to say.

    Anyway, I really do appreciate the fact that you were able to back up what you said. A lot of people do nothing more than just talk and cannot produce the facts to back up what they say. I’m glad you were able to.

    “This ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 9-13, 2003, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Fieldwork was conducted by TNS Intersearch of Horsham, Pa.”


    Merry Christmas!

    Oh, and I hope Tookie rots in Hell. (sorry for straying off topic)

  • hibiscusfire


    I could wager a guess what 45 million* or so think about it.

    Happy Holidays.
    (I believe Christmas is on the 25th?)
    (Or maybe executions bring out your holiday cheer?)


  • hotmommy

    Had to share my two cents, as I am in a unique position with regard to health insurance coverage. I work for the State of Wisconsin, which has OUTSTANDING health insurance coverage. $55/month for family coverage, only out of pocket is a co-pay for emergency visits and minimal drug co-pays. I have a 2 year old daughter whose entire delivery (emergency c-section) and pyleoplasty (removal of blockage in kidney) were COMPLETELY COVERED BY OUR INSURANCE. My husband’s cataract surgery a couple years ago was also COMPLETELY COVERED BY OUR INSURANCE. All my doctor visits related to depression are COMPLETELY COVERED BY OUR INSURANCE. It is a blessing that has become increasingly valued as our family has grown. I recently changed jobs to spend more time at home with my daughter; I now work part time, still for the state, and am able to retain my insurance coverage with no changes in premium or benefits. It is the best gig out there, by far.

    However, when my husband and I attempted to get life insurance for our daughter outside of what was offered by our employers, it was denied. By Gerber, the famous $1 a month premium life insurance company. Also by Minnesota Life. The reason for the denial was her pyleoplasty, despite the fact that she was fully recovered and there are no anticipated problems in the future resulting from the condition. This was a wake up call for us, and made us realize that if it is this hard to get life insurance, it must be nearly impossible to get and/or afford health insurance with ANY pre-existing conditions at all.

    Furthermore, my mother recently was laid off and my father is self-employed. They have been paying over $1000 a month in health insurance premiums while my mother is trying to find a job with benefits. What a crummy situation to be in. While I would love to be able to quit my job and stay at home full time with my daughter, this will never happen as we simply cannot afford to give up the health insurance benefits that we have.

    This is a huge issue for our country and one that needs to be dealt with by our leaders immediately. Until then, Jon & Heather, see what kind of bennies the State of Utah offers; perhaps one of you could get a part-time position with benefits? Alternatively, and this isn’t a great option but one my mother is considering, get a part time job anywhere (gas station, McDonalds, etc) that offers benefits. While it may be demeaning, the benefits may outweigh the negative aspects.

    Lots of love and good luck.

  • Marcus

    I guess Jon nuked my response to Hibiscufire (comment #130). I’m not complaining though. It did stray a little from the original topic.

    It was a marvelous response though… (Good thing I still have a copy of it.)

  • http://umm... Amy

    I had a similar situation, only I was flat out denied ANY coverage. I finally got a plan with Blue Cross, but I had to agree to forego coverage for any medications. I totally agree with your rant and we need a BIG time revamping of health care in the US (super power…yea, right).

  • Donald Ball

    Hey, I’m diabetic … but I should be able to get coverage, as should someone with cancer. What we need is a health care system, not better or more widely available health insurance, though that would be a start.

  • Keera Ann Fox

    I see you already have a couple of comments from/about Norway. I am an American who has lived in Norway for most of her life. When I talk to my American relatives about nationalized health care, they balk, and they worry about germs, waiting lines, and TAXES.

    Norwegian hospitals are clean, friendly and efficient, and the corridors we stick our patients in have paintings on the walls. But you get in. Free. And if it’s an emergency, there’s no waiting. The 40-50% taxes mentioned are not just income tax, but also miscellaneous fees and a sales tax of 25%. It’s not like you walk home with only half your paycheck.

    I wish Americans would get over their fear of letting the government handle some things (like ensuring its entire population can actually read and write, and has good health; that would benefit employers, too). Think about it: Spending a lot of $$ on health insurance you may or may not get or that requires you have a (full-time) job out of your own pocket, or paying a bit more in taxes and being guaranteed a bed in a hospital and subsidized meds for chronic illnesses.

    I’m happy to see this discussion. I think it’s about time the US stopped acting like a third-world country. That said, I was struck by the ingenuity and creativity in many of the suggestions given for how to manage the current situation, as well as all the sympathy.

    Stay well, no matter what, ‘K?

  • Silent.Lucidity

    Wow…it’s quite unfortunate that there are so many others like myself fighting the neverending insurance battles. As I sit here reading almost every blog posted, I begin realizing just how problematic medical insurance can be on all different levels.

    I actually came onto this site to seek advice, but have yet to come across a situation similar to mine. Here’s my current dilemma…I’m a 24 yr old female who has never went without medical insurance, UNTIL december of 2004 when I left my employer to go back to school full time. Before that, Kaiser remained consistent as my health care provider while under my mom’s policy and when I switched on my own. Unfortunately, I overlooked the need to keep an insurance plan while in school-Bad thinking on my end. In result, my mother had no choice but to pick me up under her insurance, but we all know how long that process takes for benefits to kick in…90 days or longer! January 1st 2006 is when I will be officially insured in Kaiser’s records! Sounds soon enough right? WRONG!!!

    This past Saturday the 10th, I experienced thee most excruciating abdominal pain i’ve ever felt before. A friend rushed me to Kaiser Permanente where my mother frantically awaited our arrival. We then preceded to the emergency room to check in, which at that time was a few minutes after 6:00pm. By 10:45pm I was in a gown, waiting in a room for a doctor to see me. After a couple IV’s, a CATSCAN, an ultrasound, a vaginal exam, some morphine, and 3 doctors later I was finally told that I had a 7cm cyst on my right ovary causing the ovary to twist & lose oxygen.

    Surgery was the only given option in order to salvage my ovary so indeed my mother agreed to it. No more than a few seconds after the doctor left the room, we were hit by an onslaught of paperwork which stated our obligation/responsibility to pay all entire hospital fees including surgery of course.

    Now this absolutely kills me…please explain to me how the hospital already has all my current information including insurance membership identification # stored in its computer, BUT due to the fact that it says “pending till January 1st 2006” they can’t honor it???? C’mon people, it’s less than a month away and it was clearly an emergency, it’s not like I was impatiently scheduling an appointment for this month! What can be done in a situation like this? This bill is not going to be cheap whatsoever. Merry Christmas to me huh?

%d bloggers like this: