Health care and its costs are a continued and real problem in this country as this troublesome article by The New York Times continues to demonstrate. President George W. Bush has helped to make it worse, focusing his administration’s attention on issues that will help his friends in the industry get richer while the vast majority falls deeper and deeper into an ever-spinning black hole of health insecurity.
As for the presidential candidates, most media would rather have you take your eyes off what’s important and have you concentrate on the Reverend Wright, Obama’s bowling score and Hillary’s tears. At this rate, we should fear for what’s ahead…
Alvaro F. Fernandez
Even the Insured Feel the Strain of Health Costs
By Reed Abelson and Milt Reudenheim
Taken from The New York Times of May 4th.
The economic slowdown has swelled the ranks of people without health insurance. But now it is also threatening millions of people who have insurance but find that the coverage is too limited or that they cannot afford their own share of medical costs.
Many of the 158 million people covered by employer health insurance are struggling to meet medical expenses that are much higher than they used to be — often because of some combination of higher premiums, less extensive coverage, and bigger out-of-pocket deductibles and co-payments.
With medical costs soaring, the coverage many people have may not adequately protect them from the financial shock of an emergency room visit or a major surgery. For some, even routine doctor visits might now take a back seat to basic expenses like food and gasoline.
“It just keeps eating into people’s income,” said James Corbin, a former union official who works for the local utility in Tucson.
Mr. Corbin said that under their employer’s health plan, he and his co-workers are now obliged to pay up to $4,000 of their families’ annual medical bills, on top of about $1,600 a year in premiums. Five years ago, they paid no premiums and were responsible for only about $2,000 of their families’ medical bills.
“That’s a big jump,” Mr. Corbin said. “You’ve just lost a month’s pay.”
Already, many doctors say, the soft economy is making some insured people hesitant to get care they need, reluctant to spend a $50 co-payment for an office visit. Parents “are waiting longer to bring in their children,” said Dr. Richard Lander, a pediatrician in Livingston, N.J. “They say, ‘The kid isn’t that sick; her temperature is only 102.’ ”
The problem of affording health care is most acute for people with no insurance, a group expected to soon exceed 48 million, but those with insurance say they too are feeling the pain.
Since the recession of 2001, the employee’s average cost of an annual health care premium for family coverage has nearly doubled — to $3,300, up from $1,800 — while incomes have come nowhere close to keeping up. Factor in other out-of-pocket medical costs, and the portion of the average American household’s income that goes toward health care has risen about 12 percent, according to the consulting and accounting firm Deloitte, and is now approaching one-fifth of the average household’s spending.
In a recent survey by Deloitte’s health research center, only 7 percent of people said they felt financially prepared for their future health care needs.
Read the rest of this article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/04/business/04insure.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&hp