Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Your representative is waiting for your call

Do not give up on serious health care reform. Your senators and representatives are waiting, begging even to hear from you before Congress reconvenes. Many of their jobs may rightly depend on how they vote, so they need to know what you want them to do. I just made three calls to voice my support (particularly for saving the public plan) and it took about 5 minutes. Here is a link that will help you call and/or email (calling is better) the president, your senators and your local representatives: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

Everyone needs and deserves basic health care coverage, prevention and education. The physical, spiritual and economic health of our country depends on it.

Doctor's and patients need access to unbiased research and information comparing treatment options and pharmaceuticals. This is a job for someone like the NIH, not drug companies or insurance companies or politically appointees who have vested interests.

Drug rationing already exists so let's not fear it. Doctors and patients are told everyday by insurance companies what they can and cannot do. What we are talking about is taking the rationing out of the hands of people who have a financial incentive to order more or less tests--often doctors and hospitals in the first case and insurance companies in the latter. Whatever the system, here or in Canada, socialized, nationalized or just plain old Americanized, people with money (like you?) will always be able to afford paying for the doctor, procedure or drug that you want or believe you need, so let's not ruin it for all the people who can't afford to pay and currently get what my Dad calls "bupkiss".

Dying with dignity, in comfort and without a bankrupting ICU bill is a right that we should all be encouraged to exercise. It's very personal, but if you do not have a health care proxy, living will, DNR etc., then the hospital will be making the decisions for you--which will involve putting you on every machine and ventilator known to man whether there is any hope of recovery or not and regardless of how uncomfortable it may be. Not being able to speak or move and living in an ICU with an artificial respirator is both painful and expensive. There are times where it could save your life, but there are times where it cannot, and only prolongs it, assuming you consider that a life. These are the situations where you need a living will or health care proxy to help you have the end of life that you want. This isn't death camps, but it does involve taking some time to consider these important end of life decisions and then making them known to your family and physicians. Here is a simple website that can help you create a health care proxy or living will: http://www.doyourproxy.org/

A co-op is not a reliable alternative to a public health option. This New York Times article does a great job of describing the potential risks and benefits of co-ops: http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/17/so-whats-a-health-insurance-coop-anyway/?ref=health


7 Reasons We Need Health Insurance Reform Now

1. Coverage Denied to Millions: A recent national survey estimated that 12.6 million non-elderly adults – 36 percent of those who tried to purchase health insurance directly from an insurance company in the individual insurance market – were in fact discriminated against because of a pre-existing condition in the previous three years or dropped from coverage when they became seriously ill. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/denied_coverage/index.html

2. Less Care for More Costs: With each passing year, Americans are paying more for health care coverage. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have nearly doubled since 2000, a rate three times faster than wages. In 2008, the average premium for a family plan purchased through an employer was $12,680, nearly the annual earnings of a full-time minimum wage job. Americans pay more than ever for health insurance, but get less coverage. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hiddencosts/index.html

3. Hard Times in the Heartland: Throughout rural America, there are nearly 50 million people who face challenges in accessing health care. The past several decades have consistently shown higher rates of poverty, mortality, uninsurance, and limited access to a primary health care provider in rural areas. With the recent economic downturn, there is potential for an increase in many of the health disparities and access concerns that are already elevated in rural communities. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/hardtimes

4. Small Businesses Struggle to Provide Health Coverage: Nearly one-third of the uninsured – 13 million people – are employees of firms with less than 100 workers. From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. Much of this decline stems from small business. The percentage of small businesses offering coverage dropped from 68% to 59%, while large firms held stable at 99%. About a third of such workers in firms with fewer than 50 employees obtain insurance through a spouse. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/helpbottomline

5. The Tragedies are Personal: Half of all personal bankruptcies are at least partly the result of medical expenses. The typical elderly couple may have to save nearly $300,000 to pay for health costs not covered by Medicare alone. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction

6. Diminishing Access to Care: From 2000 to 2007, the proportion of non-elderly Americans covered by employer-based health insurance fell from 66% to 61%. An estimated 87 million people - one in every three Americans under the age of 65 - were uninsured at some point in 2007 and 2008. More than 80% of the uninsured are in working families. Learn more: http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/inaction/diminishing/index.html

7. The Trends are Troubling: Without reform, health care costs will continue to skyrocket unabated, putting unbearable strain on families, businesses, and state and federal government budgets. Perhaps the most visible sign of the need for health care reform is the 46 million Americans currently without health insurance - projections suggest that this number will rise to about 72 million in 2040 in the absence of reform. Learn more: http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/assets/documents/CEA_Health_Care_Report.pdf

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