Sunday, December 02, 2007

We are all just one illness away from poverty

The Wall Street Journal records the story of a successful, upper middle class man with health insurance who miraculously fought off a deadly infection only to find that his subsequent hospital bills AFTER insurance pay-outs were devastating.

A study by the Commonwealth Fund from 2005 revealed that 26% of Americans WITH health insurance had trouble paying medical bills. 39% of those Americans had to use up all their savings to cover their medical costs. 28% covered the costs with credit cards, some of those cards with incredibly high interest rates which provided the credit card banks with huge profits while making it almost impossible for the individuals to ever be able to get out of debt. 26% of those Americans who had health insurance became unable to pay for basic necessities (perhaps throwing them on to our welfare roles.) And 11% took out a second mortgage or a loan to be able to pay all the bills.

Had these people lived in Great Britain or Canada or France or Germany or Australia or Japan or ANYWHERE with Universal Health Care, they would not have had to face financial ruin after facing horrible illness and death.

And these are the Americans with health insurance. There are also the 46+ million Americans who have no insurance and scarce access to medical care. 18,000 Americans die yearly simply because they couldn't get care. That approaches the immorality of a holocaust.

If we truly do value life and if, as stated in our Declaration of Independence, life is an unalienable right, then we must change how we deal with health care. We must make it accessible to all.

We must adopt a single-payer, universal system of health care.


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