Sometimes Insurance No Match For Health Costs
Americans with serious illnesses who must often choose between paying a mortgage or their health premiums and deductibles are often going broke, The Seattle Times reports.
"When Mark Moody and Glenda Krull could no longer afford both health insurance and mortgage payments, the Edmonds couple knew which had to go. They sold their house. Moody, 60, had a liver transplant four years ago and may need another. He alone pays $1,345 a month for the most generous policy he can buy from Premera Blue Cross."
Their experience highlights the impact that health care costs can have for the insured. "In 2007, nearly two-thirds of all personal bankruptcies filed across the country were linked to illnesses, loss of income or high medical bills, according to a survey published in June by researchers at Harvard University and Ohio University. Of those cases, 78 percent of the debtors had health insurance when they first got sick. What's more, even insured people without serious health problems like Moody are struggling to afford increasingly higher deductibles and co-pays that are eroding the value of employer-provided insurance - even as employers are also paying more to provide that coverage" (Song, 6/28).
But even in places with single payer systems of health care, the costs sometimes mean people don't get the treatment they need, CBS News reports. "The (National Health System) was set up 60 years ago to guarantee that everyone in the United Kingdom would have health care, but over the years complaints have grown over long waits and poor service. Under fierce pressure to improve - the NHS annual budget was tripled over the past decade. Now, Britain spends just over $2,700 per person on health care, compared to an average $6,700 in the U.S. And a recent survey shows 90 percent of British patients rated their NHS care as good to excellent.
CBS News reported on a participant in the NHS program. "Mary Brewis has been battling colon cancer for 6 years. She's still alive because of the care she got under Britain's National Health System, and more recently, in spite of that same system's bureaucratic rules."
"But it's not perfect, as Brewis discovered when the cancer spread to her lungs, and the NHS said it wouldn't pay for an experimental drug to shrink her tumors. Dr. Karol Sikora, a British cancer specialist, became the unknowing poster boy for a series of ads made by a U.S. lobby group opposed to public health insurance. In fact, Dr. Sikora does believe in Britain's universal public system, but he says it can be wasteful, inefficient and unfair.
"Sikora advocates a mixture of public and private insurance - the competition acting to ensure efficiency and make sure cost-cutting doesn't deny patients like Brewis innovative drugs" (Palmer, 6/27).