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Shirley Ortega Chad Helder English 101 HOL February 19, 2009 Healthcare: A Real Dilemma for Americans No American should suffer the consequences of being without health insurance. Every person in America must have affordable access to health care coverage, regardless of their age or their preexisting conditions. A system that was born in the first depression era of 1930’s, is long overdue for some major changes. The greed and politics of the healthcare companies, including the pharmaceutical industry, have made it impossible for the average American to seek coverage and continue their treatment as prescribed. Low income families may qualify for a state funded insurance that pays for doctor visits, labs, x-rays, hospitalization, and other general healthcare. However, once you make over a certain amount of money you lose these benefits and are required to pay for your own private health care coverage. Private insurance policies may have a low monthly premium but charge higher co-pays when you get to the doctors office. Also, most of these policies only cover a very small portion of laboratory visits and x-rays. Patients are responsible for these added expenses, on top of their monthly premium. Majority of insurance companies will not cover any procedure that is deemed experimental or cosmetic. The worst part about these insurance companies is their application process, often requiring a scrutinizing health exam. If you have any type of preexisting condition they will deny your application or put you on probation period for 6 months or longer. Elderly citizens and other patients with lots of medical history are most affected by this. If they are in need of care now, they must wait until the probation period is over or choose to pay for doctor services themselves.

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Some employers offer medical coverage to their employers at a group discounted rate. These companies are not legally required to do so; however, it is a great incentive for employees. These policies tend to cover a greater percentage of medical procedures, such as labs or x-rays. These companies may also have a policy for pre-existing conditions. Now let’s talk about the people who don’t have an employer to offer them medical benefits and cannot find a private insurance policy; they are responsible for all medical bills incurred. In an article published in the Business Wire an anonymous writer reports, “Despite unprecedented economic challenges and a dramatic shift in political power, a new survey by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company, reveals that while cost containment remains a priority, most large U.S. employers are continuing to make significant long-term investments in solutions and programs aimed at improving the health and productivity of their workforce. However, the changing political landscape--coupled with ongoing cost pressures--has prompted many companies to seriously consider their future role as a health care benefits provider” (2). These companies are tremendously affected by the downward spiral in these tough economic times, it’s going to be very hard for these companies to supply their employees with cost effective, quality health insurance. This is only one reason why it is time for our government to intervene and become the sole administrator of healthcare. On average, a 15 minute doctor appointment costs anywhere from $100-$200, visits to a specialist doctor will cost substantially more. Then if medication is prescribed, you can expect that total to double; the pharmaceutical companies have inflated their prices to unforeseeable amounts. This leaves patients with just one choice, health or bills. A large majority of American’s will put off their health problems until they must go to the emergency room. Most of those people will never be able to pay this phenomenal medical bill. In an article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Forty-seven percent of Americans report a family member has sacrificed

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medical care because of the cost, according to a recent poll by Kaiser Foundation. More than a third say a family member delayed care, and 30 percent say someone skipped a recommended test or treatment” (Conwell). It is wrong for people to delay their care; but for American to receive care it has to be adequately provided to them. People with terminal illnesses and are denied healthcare will be left with thousands of dollars in debt. How is an unhealthy patient going to work and pay of the debt? Answer: they can’t. Editor for The American Prospect, Ezra Klein acknowledges, “[This] is a problem, as higher out-of-pocket costs mean more of us going without prescriptions, which means less maintenance of conditions and, thus, more cost when our chronic illnesses balloon into catastrophic health events.” This idea alone should scare our government into action. I believe one of the problems is that our elected officials, with their higher salaries, receive quality healthcare and do not feel the effects of this broken system. Our country must begin to take better care of every single one of our citizens and stop worrying about problems in other countries or whether or not abortion should be legal. Let’s make it a priority and guarantee health care for every single American. We deserve to be healthy; it will only bring good things to our country. I find it ironic, that when the health insurance pay-as-you-go policies began back in the 1930’s we were in an economic depression. Now here we are in 2009, nearly eight decades later, and we are facing the same economic dilemmas. Hospitals were hit hard in the 1930’s by the lack of patients who were unable to pay for their medical care. A plan was implemented so that every person within a certain geographical region would each pay the same monthly premium. With this things got better for Americans in need of health care. However, during the 1970’s the number of uninsured citizens began to increase once again; this number has been increasing ever since then. So many patients lacking medical insurance are living with hundreds or thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills. Hospitals are forced to sell their unpaid debts to collection

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agencies, which only pay a percentage of the actual bill; this can only lead to budget cuts and job losses. Some hospitals are denying patients that are unable to pay for medical care they deserve, all together. Throughout the years there have been many small fixes for this failing system, some experts say if things to do not change soon, our current healthcare system could fail completely. This failed system isn’t just about the patients who can not get health care; it’s about the domino effect on America. First of all a patient who can not seek the required medical attention are forced to wait until things have progressed to an emergency situation. People like to say, go to the doctor sooner, it’s a lot cheaper for an office visit than a trip to the emergency room. Unfortunately, the fact remains that doctors don’t like to see patients unless they have the money to pay at the time of visit. For some, that money is the difference between a doctor visit or the electricity bill. Once a patient has gone to the emergency room they have now accrued a bill over a thousand dollars, and that does not including lab work, x-rays, or doctor services. Some people are able to make arrangements to pay these bills, while others are left to stress about the bill. Financial stress is toxic; it affects the patient and their family. We need to hold insurance and pharmaceutical companies accountable for their negligence and begin reforming this failed system. I believe all insurance companies should be abolished; and there should be one national healthcare rule. This means providing preventative care and treatment for all Americans; at a cost that will not create financial burden to our citizens. We need to begin by allowing every American access to the same services; no more “policies” that do not cover everyone and everything. I believe there should be no out-of-pocket expense for American citizens, but they have to take responsibility too. Perhaps we could use a system similar to Social Security, where a percentage of our wages can be deducted for health insurance. Our country leads the charts in healthcare spending above any other country. Therefore, if every American was required to contribute a fraction their premium that they

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currently pay toward a national healthcare policy, we would all receive the same benefits. Every single American including those with a pre-existing condition such as cancer, asthma, diabetes, mental illness, and all other medical conditions will be able to seek regular medical attention before things get critical. There will be no limit to the care a person can receive. This will also mean no out-of-pocket expense for prescriptions. America has everything to gain by making our country healthy; healthier citizens lead to stronger more driven individuals. I think it’s time our government held the insurance companies accountable for their negligence, and reform our entire health care system. What do we have to lose?

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Works Cited Conwell, Vickie. “No Job, no health insurance; How to survive tough times.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 07 Jan 2009. 5 Feb 2009. <http://www.ajc.com/health/content/health/stories/2009/01/07/no_job_no_insurance.html> "Hewitt Survey: Keeping Employees Healthy Remains a Priority for U.S. Companies, Despite Short-Term Need to Cut Costs. " Business Wire 4 March 2009. 3. ProQuest Newsstand. ProQuest. Tacoma Community College Library, Tacoma, WA. 5 Mar. 2009 <http://www.proquest.com/> Klein, Ezra. “Ten Reasons Why Health Care is So Bad.” The American Prospect. 02 Nov. 2007. 5 Feb.2009. <http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=ten_reasons_why_american_health_care_is_so _bad>

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