Lots of health care odds-n-ends in this post. I can't bring you comprehensive coverage on this site since covering even one topic is hard enough for a blogger (for continuous coverage, I suggest Ezra Klein). But I can pass along videos, fun facts, and horror stories I find. Lots more after the jump, but here's Stephen Colbert's take on health care to start.
Speaking of which, how many of you all watched that ABC special last week about health care? I tuned in for like the first 20 minutes, but then got bored out of my mind with the fact that all the questions posed to the center-left plan Obama's pushing for were from the right and generally poorly informed. I would have liked to have seen someone question him on why single-payer isn't being offered, etc., but I guess ABC felt they needed to be the Republicans who weren't in the room.
GIBSON: But let me ask a basic question, which may sound silly and naive. But we've got 46 million people who are uninsured in this country.
GIBSON: And one of your goals, one of the goals of health care reform is to get those 46 million people insured.
GIBSON: We only have X number of doctors in the country. If you add 46 million people to the insurance rolls, you can't get an appointment now, Mr. President. How are you going to get an appointment then, when there's 46 more million people competing for that doctor's time?
I'll say it before and I'll say it again: one of the best things the fiscal right ever did in the 20th century was to turn media operations into a show put on by over-paid celebrities. It reduced good journalism as access became more important than truth, and it shifted all the media folks' opinions to favor whatever wealthy people want, since they're sure to represent themselves.
Seriously, 46 million people are uninsured, and a guy like Charlie Gibson is worried that if they get insurance he might have to share a doctor with the riff-raff? What a dick.
In an update to their landmark 2001 study on medical bankruptcy, researchers at Harvard University have concluded that medical debt contributed to 62 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies in 2007 -- 78 percent of bankruptcy filers burdened by healthcare expenses had health insurance but "still were overwhelmed by their medical debt":
For 92% of the medically bankrupt, high medical bills directly contributed to their bankruptcy. Many families with continuous coverage found themselves under-insured, responsible for thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Others had private coverage but lost it when they became too sick to work. Nationally, a quarter of firms cancel coverage immediately when an employee suffers a disabling illness; another quarter do so within a year. Income loss due to illness also was common, but nearly always coupled with high medical bills.
"The proportion of all bankruptcies attributable to medical problems has increased by 50%" since 2001, and is likely to grow even higher once the economic climate of 2008 is considered. Nationally, the percentage of Americans "under the age of 65 with employer sponsored insurance declined to less than 63 percent in 2007, from more than 67 percent in 1999," and employers are now reporting that they plan to shift more health costs to employees.
Earlier this week, a new study published in Health Affairs concluded that "the 161 million Americans with employer-sponsored health insurance are facing substantial increases in out-of-pocket (OOP) costs." In 2007, "adults with employer coverage faced an average of $729 annually in OOP costs for medical services," a "34 percent increase from 2004. In fact, between 2000 and 2006, premiums for family coverage grew 6.4 times more quickly than workers' earnings and average worker's share of family health insurance premiums nearly doubled from 2000 to 2007.
The point is: it's not just those 46 million uninsured people who should be worried. It's most of everyone else, who's underinsured. These people think they have great insurance... until something bad happens.
78% of people who file for bankruptcy at least in part due to medical bills have insurance. That should make anyone who thinks they're well-covered stop and think.
Someone's proposing a health care strike on the 6th of July. It could help get attention to this issue so that it stops being covered as "the left wants a public option" and turns into "Americans in general want a public option." Which is, you know, the truth.
On this site, I've posted a lot about how I'm opposed to the "just do something!" brand of queer activism. It's painful to even have to argue in favor of doing something good instead of just doing something, but there are enough loud voices in the community (like, say, Wayne Besen) who think that their actions can never have a negative consequence or just don't care if they do.
Blue America PAC, which was started by liberal bloggers, has a grassroots campaign to get these ads on the air. They're directed at Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, since she's a Democrats who has come out against the public option. They made 3 and want people to vote on which is the best (and to help contribute to getting one on the air), so stop by their site after you've watched them. Their ads are a lot like what you'd expect from bloggers: quick, to-the-point, and are directly appealing to nonpolitical types' understanding of politics (which is a lot more than condescending DC political consultants give them credit for).