War on health coverage

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There’s been discussion throughout weblogging about whether people would vote for Bush again or not. Many of the postings I’ve read said that the webloggers would primarily because of his policies regarding Israel, and his “handling of terrorism”.

To vote for Bush solely because of terrorism ignores so many other issues that are critical to this country. Issues that also cost lives, daily.

For instance, there’s the issue of health coverage in this country. My friend Chris recently posted some statistics about American life at his weblog. Among these was one that I felt was particularly relevant to my own situation — the fact that 40,000,000 people in this country don’t have health insurance.

If you want something to back up this statistic, then will a press release from the US Census Bureau do? According to the press release, we’re actually improving our lot in life, as the number of people without health insurance coverage in our country dropped to “only” 38.7 million in 2000. However, this number has changed drastically due to the current recession and higher unemployment. Other publications now put the number at 44 million.

This is only about 15% or so of the populace, but considering that the US is the richest country in the world, wouldn’t you all agree that any amount over 0% is a cause for shame?

Instead of dealing with the health care crises effectively, George W Bush tries to put through a health plan based on tax credits, an approach that’s been proven ineffective in the past. In addition, Bush also wants to put through an “intermediate” pharmacy discount plan that could, at most, reduce prescription drug costs by only about 10-25%. With prescription costs exceeding thousands of dollars a month for some illnesses, saving a few hundred dollars is not going to make a difference.

I have a close friend in Oregon who works for the Job Corps, teaching carpentry to displaced kids. He doesn’t make the bucks a master carpenter would make in the public sector, but he loves his work. He’s past retirement age, though, and needs to think about quitting. He isn’t able to because of health care coverage.

My close friend’s wife has severe emphysema that requires drugs costing thousands of dollars a month to keep her alive. If he quits, he loses his personal health care coverage, and Medicare doesn’t provide coverage of most of the costs of the drugs. If he quits, he’ll quickly go through all of his savings in order to buy the drugs his wife needs to stay alive.

This is a real person. He goes by the name of “Red”. He has a wonderful smile, a great sense of humor, an enormously huge heart, and he used to be my father-in-law. And if he retires, which he’ll have to someday, he’ll be financially destitute within one year.

I suppose, though, he could get “lucky” and his wife will die before he’s forced to retire. By the way, she goes by the name of “Bert”. She’s firey and tempermental, with an incredible laugh. She loves her kids and her grand-kids and she loves to travel. With adequate medication, and some restrictions, she can still travel.

She and Red had always planned to travel when he retired.

Without health insurance coverage, people in this country are making decisions daily that result in early or immediate death. They’re literally gambling with their lives because of the cost of medical care.

How many people are dying because of inadequate health coverage and care? I couldn’t find a statistic on this, but as a conservative guess, if only 1 percent of those uninsured in this country die because of lack of easily accessible medical care in a year, thats over 400,000 people a year. And that’s over 1000 people a day.

To be blunt, you’re more likely to die in this country because of inadequate medical coverage and care than you are from being killed by a terrorist. Regardless of your religion, race, sex, or any particular orientation.

You might want to consider this the next time you say you want to vote for Bush primarily because of his handling of terrorism.

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