05/27/2004: As a diabetic....
(who's also being treated for chronic hypertension and GERD) I'm acutely sensitive to the cost of my health care. Even though my employer does provide health insurance, coverage is generally so poor and the deductible so high that about the only useful benefit is my prescription drug coverage (and in fairness, that is a considerable benefit, given the 5 very expensive prescription drugs that, at best, I'll be taking the rest of my life (as yet, it doesn't look like they're going to come up with a cure for Type 2 diabetes anytime soon)). Right now, I've had to pay out of pocket for every doctor visit (and I need to see my physician every three months) and lab test that's been necessary for managing my diabetes.
That's why stories like this make me mad: Bush's Health Care Scam
President Bush, speaking Tuesday at a Youngstown, Ohio, community health center, promised to help more uninsured Americans obtain affordable health care. But his key proposals are dubious health policy, waste taxpayer dollars, and are unlikely to increase coverage. They deserve more attention because they epitomize Bush's utterly cynical approach to governing.Tell me about "preexisting conditions". My diabetes qualifies perfectly. If I were forced to find my own health insurance on an individual basis, I'd find out very quickly that I'm uninsurable (as it is, it's prohibitively expensive, if not impossible, for me to get life insurance, so I'm screwed there).
Here's what Bush would do.
First, he relies on tax credits. A family earning $25,000 or less could receive a "refundable tax credit" (that is, a government payment) of up to $3,000 toward the purchase of health insurance. The trouble is that the average family health insurance policy provided by employers in 2003 cost $9,000, and individually purchased policies cost even more.
A family with $25,000 income, even with a $3,000 subsidy from Bush's plan, would still have to pay $6,000 out of pocket. Families with $25,000 or less are just scraping by. How many can afford to spend almost a quarter of their total income on health insurance?
Worse, individual health insurance policies are the least efficient way to provide health coverage because they are more costly than group plans to administer. And they leave families with any history of illness vulnerable to denial of insurance on grounds of a "preexisting condition." (About half of the uninsured have histories of serious medical problems.) So, few people currently without insurance would actually benefit from Bush's tax credit scheme.
In a country as rich as the United States, we can do much better than this.
Len on 05.27.04 @ 12:17 PM CST