Cover the Uninsured Week, April 23 -29, 2007

Cover the Uninsured Week,  April 23 -29, 2007
I was listening to Talk of the Nation on NPR last week and one of the subjects addressed was weather every citizen should be entitled to health care. One would think that would be a given, but this ugly question has been asked again and again for the last 25 years. Yet not only does nothing happen, there persists an attitude that those without health care are at fault and not the system.

This was the attitude expressed by one of the “Talk of the Nation” callers who posed the same questions asked by many Americans. She questioned “who would pay,” and “Why don’t uninsured people just get a job?” The insinuation being that those without health insurance are mainly those who are lazy and don’t work. If health care was provided then taxes would rise and why should she pay more taxes for others (who were obviously just lazy).

The caller alluded to the fact that she had health insurance. I was disappointed that the host did not ask the caller if she paid for her own health insurance. Since he didn’t ask there is no way to know, but I would assume that she, like most Americans with health insurance, doesn’t pay for her own health insurance. Most likely her employer pays for her health insurance.

Contrary to the popular belief most of the uninsured are hard working people who often work multiple jobs just to make ends met. Working full time does not equate to access to health insurance.

According to The Institute of Medicine 49 U.S. adults die each day, 18,000 every year, as a direct result of not having health insurance. It causes heartache and suffering to an additional 44 million Americans, including 8.5 million children.

What’s needed to defeat this killer isn’t fund raisers and research. Fund raisers may help lessen the suffering of a small number of individuals, but they don’t solve the problems faced by the 44 million Americans who have no health insurance and the millions of Americans who are under-insured.

Today the total number of uninsured Americans is equal to the combined population of 24 states: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

In 2002 alone, an additional 2 million Americans joined the ranks of the uninsured. The number of uninsured will continue to rise. As the cost of health insurance increases, companies will begin cutting back on how much they will contribute to health coverage for their employees. Others will be forced to eliminate health coverage just to remain competitive. Soon you may find yourself among the working uninsured.

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