Saturday, September 5, 2009

Why We Need Health Care Reform

Note from Ronnie: I'd like to present as many different views as I can over the coming months about this debate on Health Care Reform. To see previous posts, "Health Care We Can Afford? Not Likely." and "Your Health or Your Wallet? The Choice is Yours" please click here and here. If you would like to submit a blog on this topic, please contact me and we may be able to use your commentary. Comments and questions are encouraged, I just ask that you keep them constructive and respectful. Thanks.

This blog post is brought to us by Christina. She says "I live in Wichita, KS. I have 3 children, Haley (15) Lauren (6), and Dominic (4). Haley has has Cystic Fibrosis and was diagnosed when she was 8 weeks old. I also work as an advocate for people with disabilities and I love my job. My hobbies include reading, and writing. I write quite a bit I have journals, and blogs, and I keep notebooks all over the place in my house, car, and at work and jot down my thoughts constantly. I also twitter and my user name is @advocate4all. My personal blog is and I just recently started an advocacy blog at

(Whether you are for or against reform please read)

The health care reform debate has created a great division in this country. I believe that the fact that I work in the Social Services field and have a daughter with Cystic Fibrosis gives me a special viewpoint of the debate. I already knew this country was in desperate need of health care reform before I had heard of Barack Obama. Even so, I have been accused of drinking the Obama Kool-Aid. What I do know is that there is a huge gap between people who qualify for Medicaid or Medicare and people who are able to obtain health insurance through an employer.

Here are some facts. According to the US Census Bureau in 2007 the number of people covered by private health insurance was 67.5%. Also, according to the US Census Bureau in 2007 the poverty rate in the US was 12.5% and therefore those people qualify for Medicaid. So this means that in 2007 20% of people were without and/or had no access to healthcare coverage. Another interesting statistic is that 1 in 3 people will become disabled before they retire.

I happen to work for a non-profit agency that works with people who have a disability(s). Most of these individuals became disabled during their adult years. These people were not born with their disability(s) they obtained them through an accident, or an illness, etc. Once people have a disability their choices become very few. They can A) receive disability payments and Medicaid and live well below the poverty level, B) be lucky enough for employer to actually hire them despite their disability and offers health insurance to boot or C) go to work for themselves and not be able to obtain health insurance because they have a pre-existing condition.

I also happen to have a 15 year old daughter who was born with a very expensive disease called Cystic Fibrosis. Now we are very lucky because her father works for a company that has excellent health insurance coverage. She has several medications that cost a couple thousand dollars a month and we only have small co-pay. This is great now, but there are two major problems with this in the future. First, the industry her father works in, is always laying people off. We’ve had to bite our nails through many lay offs, and even as of today, there is a chance he will be laid off next month. Secondly, my daughter is only covered while she is still in school, so when she graduates she will have to scramble to find a job that offers health insurance and hope that her health remains stable enough to keep that job. I suppose she could marry someone who has health insurance, but I really hope my daughters’ choices do not come down to her marrying someone just so she can have health insurance coverage.

As for the 67.5% of people who have insurance they are still taking a gamble because if they become disabled, or obtain a significant health issue before they are old enough to receive Medicare these people are screwed. They will be left with the same choices as the clients that I work with through my agency. I also know that Health Care Reform is not the same as Universal Health Care. It is not meant for the people who already have insurance and are perfectly happy with it (like me). It is there for the people who don’t have it, and as a back up just in case your life doesn’t end up just the way you planned it. Because let me be the first to tell you life is not going to end up how you planned it.

*Statistics obtained by the US Census Bureau at

To view Christina's blog, please click here or go Remember, keep all comments constructive and respectful. This is a chance at some open dialogue between people who will be directly impacted by new policies formed in the Health Care arena.