Can Do About
Americas Health Care Crisis
you havent heard about problems with the
health care crisis in the US, you havent
been paying attention. The US spends over four
times as much on health care as it does on defense
Health insurance and cost for medical treatment
are escalating faster than any other segment
of the economy. It has everyone worried: employers,
employees, retirees, and politicians.
Provides Health Insurance?
If you work for the government,
including as a member of the military, youre
covered, along with 39 million others who depend
on the government for health care. It is sometimes
easy to forget that someone does pay for all
that care. Remember that government has only
two sources of income: (1) taxpayers and (2)
loans that put the country further in debt.
Each Congressman has seven of his or her very
own lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry
and medical providers lobbies like the
AMA. Basically, its the lobbyists
job to keep prices high and to prevent the passage
of universal health careor even improvements
in the current systems. (Of course, members
of the Congress are government employees. They
have full-coverage insurance for themselves
and their families that continues even after
they leave office.
Health insurance is cited
as one of the biggest worries for businesses
large and small. Even though employees usually
pay a portion of the premium through payroll
deduction, the portion that employers pay is
many times that. Weve said that health
insurance costs are risingbut thats
a bit of an understatement. In 2006 alone, small
employers premiums rose by 8.8 percent,
and companies with less than 24 employees saw
an increase of over 10%.
though by no means all, private employers offer
health insurance to employees. The problem is
that not everyone can afford to pay the premium,
usually several hundred dollars a month. The
average annual premium charged by insurers for
family coverage averaged $11,500 in 2006. Employees
paid out almost $3,000 of that, amounting to
10 percent more than in the previous year. A
full-time, minimum-wage employee makes just
over $10,000 a year, meaning that the total
premium for health insurance coverage was more
than the workers annual wage. According
to the National Coalition on Health Care, employee's
insurance premiums increased by 73% from 2000-2005.
Inflation over that same period was 14%. Wages
rose 15%. Premiums are skyrocketing to the point
that theyre close to going into orbit!
Then there are annual deductibles and co-pays,
amounts that employees pay when they seek care.
Employers choose higher-deductible plans for
their employees to cut the premium costsort
of like increasing the deductible for your collision
and comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance
to lower the premium.
Its easy to find yourself in a medical-expense
bind even if you have health insurance. You
have to really understand how your policy works,
and it seems that insurers keep changing things
without warning. First you need a Primary Care
Physician, then you dont. You didnt
used to need a referral to see a specialist,
but now you do. Youve got to stay in the
network of providers, or you wont be covered.
Hospital stays must be pre-approvedso
lets hope the ambulance driver can find
your insurance card in your wallet or purse
in case youre unconscious. There are tales
of people who took a loved one to the hospital
in an emergency, only to be denied coverage
because the hospital wasnt in the network.
there are the uninsured.
As of October, 2006, over
46 million Americans were uninsured. Were
not talking about deadbeats, either. The vast
majority of the uninsured are working people
with families. They may not be offered insurance
through their employer, or they cannot afford
the premiums. Many self-employed people are
uninsured, and the astronomical premiums for
individual insurance put them off the playing
field all togetheror pre-existing conditions
prevent them from getting insurance that will
cover them for the very conditions they will
most likely need care for.
When the uninsured do see
a doctor, it is usually due to a life-threatening
emergency or because something like a cold or
the flu has spiraled into pneumonia or bronchitis
so bad that they have no choice. For the most
part, uninsured people who get sick simply hope
they will get better. If they dont, they
finally go to the emergency room, where bills
are so high it seems there must be a mistake.
(A thousand dollars to stitch up a cut? You
must be kidding!) If you cant pay, the
hospital will continue to hound you to collect.
It could affect your credit rating if you dont
make a stab at paying off the bill.
You Can Do
You can decide youll trust that the
government or your employer will cover increasing
costs or that your share of the premium wont
go through the roof. Your other choice is
to go uninsured, hoping you and your family
will stay well. Either way, its up to
you to make a choice.
- Emergency Medical Accounts
More and more workers are making the choice
to set up medical savings accounts. They take
the money they would have paid in insurance
premiums, and instead deposit it in an interest-bearing
account, CD, or other "sure money"
account. If the funds are not needed for medical
expenses, they are way ahead of the game.
- Funding Medical Savings
If you decide to go the medical-savings-account
route, you will want o get as much money as
you can into the account as soon as possible.
You would do well to find a second source
of income to generate quick cash for your
MSA. Many people have found that a home-based
business is a very effective way to get the
cash rolling into their MSAs, with money to
You dont have to quit your regular job.
Instead, you work when you want to, steadily
accumulating money for your emergency account.
Its quite likely youll find out
you have extra money left over for another
account or two-- "things we've always
wanted" or "savings for trips."
A home-based business may very well be your
personal answer to the health care crisis.
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