Health care – or the remarkable lack of it available to the US population – is one of my pet issues.  Regrettably, it has flown under the radar for a long time.  This is too bad, because no other issues has such a profound effect on the well being of the middle class.  If people don’t have the opportunity to take care of their basic health, their entire standard of living comes into jeopardy.  
The current US system is a joke.  There are over 44 million people uninsured.  If they get sick, they’re essentially SOL.  Even if you have insurance, the health insurance company will do everything they can to tell you they don’t cover that particular problem.  And now, higher co-payments and deductibles are increasing in popularity, leaving more and more insured with higher and higher bills.

Now, without further adieu, the American Health Care Crisis in all it’s <s>glory</s&gt gory.  

Premiums and Deductibles

From 2001-2005, health insurance premiums increased 10.9%, 12.9%, 13.9%, 11.2 and 9.2%, respectively.  Over the same time, the use of high co deductibles has come into vogue.  For conventional health plans, the average national deductible has increased 141% from 1999 ($249) to 2005 ($602).

Let’s think about that for a minute.  The average person is not only paying higher premiums, he is also footing a larger percentage of the bill in the form a high deductibles.  In other words, there is a clear trend to shift the actual burden of the cost from the insurance company to the insured, making health insurance nothing more that a payment with no benefit.

Paying For Services

The Kaiser Foundation and USA Today worked together on a series of health care articles.  

Sixty-two percent of those struggling to pay medical bills have health insurance, underscoring how increasing premiums, deductibles and gaps in coverage are affecting families.

The survey, a wide-ranging look at the impact of medical costs on the nation’s families, found that 28% of adults were unable to pay for some form of medical care in the past year. That’s nearly double the 15% who reported such a problem in 1976.

Medical costs are a growing burden for middle-income families with children, as well as for the working class, people with chronic illnesses, the disabled and the uninsured. Many who cannot pay skimp on health care, go without prescription drugs or simply ignore their bills, the survey showed

Medical Insurance is looking more and more like a mafia protection racket.  You pay money for a service you never use.

A message to Republicans (the party in power): There are plenty of people out there acting responsibly who are getting screwed.  Why don’t you care about them?

Getting Insurance

Most Americans get their health insurance through their employers.  The problem here is fewer firms are offering health insurance.  The overall percentage of firms offering health insurance has dropped from 68% in 2001 to 60% in 2005.  And the smaller the company, the less chance they will offer insurance.  Only 47% of companies that had 3-9 workers offered health insurance.  74% of firms with 10-24 employees offered health insurance, and 87% of firms with 24-49 workers had insurance.  So, the entrepreneur – the people Bush is supposed to love – are having a hard time getting health insurance to get and keep good employees.

The main reason for the lack of insurance?  COST.  73% of those surveyed responded cost was a very important reason for their not having coverage.

So, let’s review.  It’s harder to get insurance that is increasingly covering less.  Even if you have insurance, you have a 1 in 4 chance of struggling to pay for medical bills.  

Wow – this is one of the most successful plans I have ever seen.  


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