Thursday, February 1, 2007

Why Bush's Healthcare Plan Is Flawed

The following article by Cindy Zeldin clearly points out why President Bush's proposed healthcare reform plan simply will not work.

Imposing a tax on employers that offer their employees premium health coverage would only make quality healthcare out of reach for most working class Americans.


Your Money Or Your Life
Cindy Zeldin

Cindy Zeldin is the federal affairs coordinator of the Economic Opportunity Program at Demos, a national public policy think-tank. She recently co-authored a report, with Mark Rukavina from the Access Project, entitled "Borrowing to Stay Healthy."

Read the entire article at:


In recent weeks, health care has been resuscitated as a public policy concern: Governors from California to Pennsylvania have announced ambitious health proposals for their states, and some early entrants into the 2008 presidential race are promising to place health care at the forefront of their platforms.

There is a growing sense that this could be the moment when we as a nation finally see health care as an essential public good---something we fix together. Until we do, however, American families are forced to cope with their health care needs as best they can.

For millions of low- and middle-income families, coping means going deep into debt.

As health care costs climb and families contend with ever-rising, out-of-pocket medical expenses, a growing body of evidence suggests that health care expenditures and consumer debt are becoming intimately intertwined. To meet higher out-of-pocket medical expenses and meet "pay at the time of service" requirements, many patients are turning to credit cards.

Demos and The Access Project
recently examined survey data of low and middle-income households with revolving credit card debt, paying particular attention to the subset of households with medical debt. We found that levels of debt were substantially higher among households who had turned to credit cards to meet their medical bills. The medically indebted were also more likely to have credit card debt higher than $10,000. Debt levels were particularly striking among young adults: average credit card debt among the low- and middle-income, medically indebted young adults in our survey (ages 18-34) topped $13,000.

Research from an array of health policy researchers has found that about 29 million adults have medical debt; that privately insured adults with medical debt are more likely than those without debt to skip recommended treatments, leave drug prescriptions unfilled and postpone care due to cost; that roughly half of all personal bankruptcies are due in part to medical problems; and that even relatively small levels of medical debt can have major consequences on financial security.

Conservatives like to talk a lot about the merits of so-called “consumer-driven health care,” or high deductible health insurance combined with Health Savings Accounts. The spin: We the Consumers regain control of our health care, and reap the asset-building and legacy benefits of any unused funds. But financially stretched low- and middle-income Americans are having trouble meeting the medical bills they already have, let alone finding extra to put aside.

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