For those of you familiar with the science bloggysphere, you’re probably familiar with Kevin Zelnio’s work (I link to it frequently). Like roughly 50 million Americans, Zelnio holds down a full-time job, but can’t afford healthcare insurance, which meant that his son very nearly died from a Streptococcus pneumoniae infection. Zelnio:
This is the luxury gap between the between the 20% of nonelderly americans who are uninsured and the rest. The luxury is, of course, being able to just walk into a doctor’s office and see them at the appropriate times. It is easy to discount this minority since most are at or near the poverty line. But many of the uninsured are like myself and just can’t seem to make the numbers work for a family of four each month by adding on private individual (i.e. non-group discounted) health insurance. Especially when you factor in the myriad other insurances we already pay: renter’s or home, wind and hail, flood, car, life, etc. It’s not that we are irresponsible, but the numbers. just. don’t. work….
Most of the uninsured in this country aren’t lazy, freeloading hobos who don’t wanna work. They span a wide variety of demographics. As a 30 something, white male with advanced college degree who works full time as a self-employed consultant and writer are you surprised that I cannot afford health insurance for my family? In fact, the majority of uninsured are in my age range and are full or part time workers earning incomes above 100% the federal poverty level. The fact of the matter for many of the uninsured is that employment-sponsored coverage has been in decline due to the escalating costs of health care. Employers can’t remain competitive and pay double the costs they were paying a decade ago for insuring their workers.
I’ll add that my recent kidney stone travails, which resulted in three day surgical procedures, four ER visits, four doctors visits, and about eleven prescriptions (a few were redundant–I have enough painkillers to rival a Florida pill mill) cost me less that a fraction of what Zelnio is being billed (for me, less than $200 total).
What infuriated me during the healthcare legislative push of 2009 was all the pseudo-concern about ‘fiscal responsibility.’ This not only resulted in a subpar healthcare plan (Romneycare), but most of provisions don’t kick in until 2014, largely because Sen. Kent Conrad and other ‘deficit hawks’ wanted to maintain some kind of budgetary balance over an arbitrary ten-year time frame.
And Zelnio’s family pays the price. If you want to help, David Kroll has information about how to do so.
It doesn’t have to be like this.