As the health reform debate heats up in Australia it is interesting to consider the situation in the United States.
At least 50 million Americans have no health cover and all but the richest are at the mercy of the notorious insurers known as HMOs. This has prompted President Obama to put health reform at the centre of his domestic policy agenda.
Huge impacts on average people
Excerpt from Getting there from here: how should Obama reform health care? Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, 26 January 2009
Starla Darling, pregnant and due for delivery, had just taken maternity leave from her factory job at Archway & Mother’s Cookie Company in Ashland, Ohio, when she received a letter informing her that the company was going out of business. In three days, the letter said, she and almost 300 co-workers would be laid off, and would lose their health-insurance coverage. The company was self-insured, so the employees didn’t have the option of paying for the insurance themselves – their insurance plan was being terminated.
‘When I heard that I was losing my insurance, I was scared,’ Darling told the Times. Her husband had been laid-off from his job, too. ‘I remember that the bill for my son’s delivery in 2005 was about $US 9,000, and I knew I would never be able to pay that by myself.’ So she prevailed on her midwife to induce labor while she still had insurance coverage. During labour, Darling began bleeding profusely, and needed a Caesarean section. Mother and baby pulled through. But the insurer denied Darling’s claim for coverage. The couple ended up owing more than $US 17,000.
A national health insurance program closer than ever
Excerpt from Times topics – health reform, The New York Times, 15 July 2009
For more than 75 years, Democrats have dreamed of creating a comprehensive national health insurance program. With the election of President Obama it appeared they had the best chance in a generation to accomplish that goal, and five months after Mr Obama’s inauguration, the detailed work of drafting legislation began in Congress – a step that suddenly brought all the difficulties of the task, as well as the possibilities, into sharp focus.
What separates this year’s initiative from past health care expansions is that it would try to address the system’s shortcomings in cost, access and quality all at once. It would do so with intricately interlocking components in-tended to make health care afford-able, end discriminatory insurance prac-tices and redirect treatment toward prevention.
Insurers attack Sicko and Michael Moore The former head of publicity for CIGNA, one of the top health insurance companies in the US, has revealed for the first time details of the health insurance industry’s secret cam–paign to discredit Michael Moore and his film Sicko. It contains a stunning revelation and admission that the disinformation and attacks on Moore and the film were exten-sive, well-planned, aimed to stop the movie from reaching a wide audience and, more im-por-tantly, from having the widespread po-li-tical impact the industry feared Sicko would have.
Wendell Potter, former Head of Corporate Communications at CIGNA admits that, in fact, Sicko ‘hit the nail on the head’ and told the real truth about how much better people in other countries have it when it comes to their health care.
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