Colo. shooting shows inequity in health care

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Colo. shooting shows inequity in health care

Post by T on Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:28 am

Colo. shooting shows inequity in health care

There was a brief kerfuffle last week when CBS reported that some of the Aurora shooting victims had no health care insurance and could be bankrupted by medical bills.

One young man, who was shot in the eye when gunman James Holmes inexplicably opened fire in a theater full of people, could face $2 million in bills.

The public outrage lasted two days before three of the five hospitals said they would pay those bills and cap the expenses of all victims. The other two hospitals are expected to follow suit.

Crisis averted. Big relief.

But the shooting raises a critical question about health care in the U.S. and the Affordable Care Act.

If it seems unacceptable to us that these unfortunate people should be bankrupted by their experience, how about the tens of thousands of people whose finances are wiped out by similarly random medical problems?

Two Harvard studies have found more than half of bankruptcies result from medical expenses or loss of income for medical reasons.

How can a wealthy nation think that is acceptable or just?

In the end, the hospital will write off as charity care what it cannot collect from this woman and eventually pass those expenses on to insurance policy holders and the companies they work for.

Workers and employers end up paying her bills, anyway, but the current system puts her through additional agony, ruins her credit and leaves her uninsurable.

That makes no sense.

The ACA may not be perfect, but it does address some of these extreme inequities. First, it would offer her a lower-cost way to obtain the benefits of health insurance and would require other insurance companies to insure her, despite her prior illness.

We can complain about the individual mandate provision of the ACA all day long, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional and even though it would only apply to between 1 and 3 percent of people currently without health insurance.

But to those who say repeal the ACA now, we ask a simple question: If we think it is fair that half a dozen shooting victims not be ruined by medical expenses, how do we feel about all those who are similarly struck down by accident or illness and will never receive media coverage?

While there is much we can all do to control our health, many things are beyond our control.

You may be one of the people who never smoked and yet develop lung cancer. You might find yourself at midlife with a defective heart valve. Or you might cut your fingers off with a circular saw when you are between insurance companies.

Are we willing as a civilized society to say, hey, good luck with all that?

The ACA is not perfect, but it's the only thing Congress has done to address these problems in 50 years.

If not this, then what?

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

SJ Link


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Re: Colo. shooting shows inequity in health care

Post by T on Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:31 am

wrote:If not this, then what?
We could just follow the Tea Party approach and let them die and reduce the surplus population.


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