Many of us don’t like to think about it, but a lot of us are one bad, medical emergency from poverty — even if you have insurance.
What’s supposed to be there in an emergency can be easily ripped away with the stroke of one red pen. The New York Times took a look at the killer trend that’s destroying bank accounts and lives — the sagas of the underinsured.
Health insurance is supposed to offer protection — both medically and financially. But as it turns out, an estimated three-quarters of people who are pushed into personal bankruptcy by medical problems actually had insurance when they got sick or were injured.
And so, even as Washington tries to cover the tens of millions of Americans without medical insurance, many health policy experts say simply giving everyone an insurance card will not be enough to fix what is wrong with the system.
Too many other people already have coverage so meager that a medical crisis means financial calamity.
“Underinsurance is the great hidden risk of the American health care system,” said Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who has analyzed medical bankruptcies. “People do not realize they are one diagnosis away from financial collapse.”
Last week, a former Cigna executive warned at a Senate hearing on health insurance that lawmakers should be careful about the role they gave private insurers in any new system, saying the companies were too prone to “confuse their customers and dump the sick.”
“The number of uninsured people has increased as more have fallen victim to deceptive marketing practices and bought what essentially is fake insurance,” Wendell Potter, the former Cigna executive, testified. (New York Times)
I think about this every time I get in a car. I could get in an accident, need medical attention and be unable to pay for my own care. One of my parents could become gravely ill and we would be at the mercy of the insurance company to see if they would cover it. And even if they did, would they cover all of it?
At the same time, the Obama Administration is trying to craft a response to the broken health care system, but it is all so Byzantine, so expensive and in such dissarray, what would the effect of government-based medical insurance be on the system?
I’m for some sort of government plan, but I want to know how they will fix the problem of medical costs for all, even those insured. How will it be paid for? How can we stop insurance companies from taking advantage of people by refusing coverage for medical necessities? How can we stop health woes from killing the middle class, the working class and the poor?