Tuesday, March 04, 2008

And the prize is...health insurance!

Polls continue to show that Americans are worried about their standard of living. This economic pessimism is even starting to climb the income scale. In fact, in order to provide basic necessities for their families, people have cut back on discretionary spending; however, there's still one necessity that eludes more and more Americans no matter how they pinch pennies - health insurance. It's become such a problem that one state has turned to a one-of-a-kind lottery, and health insurance is the prize.
[Oregon] will start drawing names this week for the chance to enroll in a health care program designed for people not poor enough for Medicaid but too cash-strapped to buy their own insurance.

More than 80,000 people have signed up since registration for the lottery opened in January. Only a few thousand will be chosen for the program.

"It's better than nothing, it's at least a hope," said Shirley Krueger, 61, who signed up the first day.

It's been more than six months since she could afford to take insulin regularly for her diabetes. That puts her at higher risk for a number of complications, such as kidney failure, heart disease and blindness.

Her part-time job leaves her ineligible for her employer's insurance plan and with too little income to buy her own.
"It's better than nothing" pretty well sums it up. Meanwhile, we're spending 16 billion dollars a month in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's about time our political leaders stood up and demanded non-profit, single payer national health insurance. Americans with health care needs deserve better than hoping they win the lottery.

(Cross-posted at BFM)


K. said...

Eric Alterman quotes at length today a recent Bob Herbert piece dealing with Joseph Stiglitz' testimony before the Congressional Joint Economic Committee:


Kathy said...

K, thanks for the link. I read that Herbert piece, but didn't see Alterman's story. Personally, I've always liked Herbert, which must make me "boring" if Alterman is to be believed.

This is his assessment of the columnist:

Bob Herbert is the only national columnist at a major newspaper who consistently writes about the issues in our country that matter most yet seem to be covered least.

IMO, that's not because Herbert is wrong or boring, but because Americans are shallow and easily bored. We want to be entertained or shocked by our news and not bothered with details or data.

abi said...

Your post reminds me of the 60 Minutes story last week about a volunteer organization that brings health care to poor, remote areas of the world. But lately, they've begun to bring their services right here in the US.

The organization - Remote Area Medical - sets up someplace in the US for a weekend. People line up for hours before the doors open. They're given numbers in the order in which they arrived. Thousands are seen for a variety of medical services, but many are turned away simply because there's not enough time to see them all.

It's better than nothing.

Info here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/02/28/60minutes/main3889496.shtml

Kathy said...

Abi, you beat me to the punch! I read that article and planned on writing about it, but work and a bad sinus headache conspired against me. :-(

It's great that charities like Remote Area Medical are helping people, but they shouldn't have to divert money and resources away from helping people in Africa and other poor countries. The U.S. has the economic resources to help our own. We simply need to get our priorities straight.