Yes We Can Reform Healthcare

During the past few months I’ve tried to research and write about healthcare reform in the U.S. in a way that would clearly explain the need for government intervention. Most U.S. citizens are living in denial when it comes to healthcare cost and just how horribly the U.S. ranks in the world compared to other developed, industrialized nations.

Given the fact that we had a baby in June, I haven’t done quite the job I had hoped I’d be able to do to make an ironclad case for reform. The issue of healthcare reform is top of the list for me and my family. It’s one of the reasons we voted Obama/Biden in 2008.

Yesterday, we took Marlo to the doctor to get her check up and be vaccinated. She’s doing great. We had an intense day on top of that with repairmen (long story for another day), FedEx (longer story for another day) and visits from extended family. Given all of this, I didn’t have a lot of time today to check Twitter and at 1:30 am this morning when Marlo awoke for her feeding (and I couldn’t sleep), I hit Twitter to catch up. I was blown away by what I saw.

Backstory: A couple of days ago The White House hit two million followers on Twitter and asked what people wanted to see from the White House feed on Twitter

I responded:

“@whitehouse it is time for the President to bust out some charts and graphs showing where US is in the world on healthcare.” (click here to see it on twitter)

I didn’t think the people behind the White House Twitter feed would listen. I was wrong:

“@blurb says “bust out some charts and graphs” Busted: Hidden costs Coverage denied” (click here to see it on twitter)

We are living in wonderful times! I’m still giddy about being responded to! What about those links? The first link in the above response goes to:

Hidden Costs of Healthcare: Why Americans are paying more and getting less

“Americans are spending more than ever on their monthly premiums while simultaneously being forced to pay higher out-of-pocket costs as a result of rising deductibles, copayments, and other cost sharing mechanisms.”

“In fact, a person with employer-based coverage paid an average of $1,522 on health care (not including premiums) in 2006, compared with $1,260 in 2001. When including the added burden of higher premiums, out-of-pocket costs rose even more sharply, with a 30 percent increase from an average of $2,827 in 2001 to $3,744 in 2006.”

(Ed. note: there are footnotes for sources and numbers on the linked page)

It’s a great start to explain just how crazy the inflation in healthcare costs are for the U.S.

The second link from the White House tweet goes to:

Coverage Denied: How the current health system leaves millions behind

Of note:

“Thirty-five states offer a high-risk pool for people who have been denied coverage in the individual insurance market or otherwise cannot obtain insurance. However, high-risk pools generally charge significantly higher rates than they charge for a healthy individual in the individual insurance market, meaning that only relatively high-income people can afford the coverage. One study estimated that only eight percent of the uninsurable population is able to enroll in high-risk pools, mainly because of high premiums.”

“Benefits through a high-risk pool are also not guaranteed. Some state high-risk pools have annual caps on enrollment, or limit eligibility only to people who had prior group health coverage in the preceding 63 days. And one state high-risk pool has been closed to new beneficiaries since 1991.”

“All high-risk pools also impose pre-existing condition exclusions for six months to one year, during which time care for the very condition that made someone uninsurable is not covered.”

Ed. note: there are footnotes for sources and numbers on the linked page)

Long-time readers will note that this “high risk” coverage provided by a state (not on a federal level) is the kind of insurance that I, Heather and Leta have. As individuals, not a family. Everything in the above quoted paragraphs is true for us. It’s expensive, but fortunately we live in a state that has such a “high risk” pool and thanks to your continued support, we can afford such insurance.

I want more charts and graphs, because they quickly tell a sobering story of healthcare in the U.S.

I am going to restate the obvious because I’m still in a state of giddy shock: The White House responded to a tweet of mine!