The Human Side of Health-Care Reform

The good old days

I like my statistics as much as anybody when trying to defend my stands on policies, but sometimes the human side of the story can make an impact where statistics cannot, More South Carolina residents losing health insurance

After 25 years with the same company, Andy Stark lost his job and his health insurance.

While he found other work, it paid 30 percent less and had no benefits.

Then his wife got cancer.

Now the Simpsonville couple is struggling to pay medical bills they expect will total about $140,000.

“This is not the way things should be in America,” Andy Stark said.

In South Carolina, 670 people a week lose their health coverage, according to data from Families USA. In the decade ending in 2008, premiums soared 119 percent, increasing costs to employers and workers and adding to the spiraling cost of health care, according to the nonprofit group.

Canadian Shona Holmes, with the help of the instant activism organizations created by conservative, such as the Patients United Now has become something of the anti-public option heroine. Her bizarre horror story of Canadian public health-care spread far and wide via right-wing net sites and of course Fox. It turns out that Holmes is a liar, but has also acquired a semi-medical condition called Shoot Yourself in the Foot Syndrome, Another Healthcare Lie, and the Lying Liar That’s Telling It

Back in the Summer of 2007, the propaganda machine at the Mayo Mayo Clinic decided to print Ms Holme’s human interest story in an internal Clinic publication.  Her healthcare horrors served nicely as a double-sided win for Mayo. On one side was the sweet story about the Clinic’s responsiveness to Ms Holme’s plight as well as the Clinic’s ample expertise in repairing her medical problem. Secondly, it served as a bonus dig against the growing call for Public Healthcare in the U.S. by painting the Canadian system in a negative light.  After all, the mere words “Public Healthcare” are the bane of the usery Private Insurance companies and Hospitals administrators alike.

[  ]…Additionally, the direness in the retelling of Ms Holmes’ story grew progressively more horrifying after the Presidential election and as the Healthcare battle began to percolate.
Horror stories of waiting non-specific “months” for treatment in Canada soon gave way to claims of four to  six month delays (an experience 180 degrees contrary to that of the scores of Canadians I’ve personally seen or heard quoted on the subject).

She had a cyst ( a couple of my relatives have had them and managed to survive with out all the melodrama), not a tumor. The sad lesson of the story is that because she panicked and took off for the Mayo Clinic she is now deeply in debt having had to raise $100,000 to pay Mayo. Maybe that is why we’re seeing so much of Holmes lately, she’s thinking that she can pay off her debts courtesy wing-nut welfare. Media matters also debunks the Shona Holmes/Patients United Now urban myth and adds some sad facts about the current state of U.S. health-care,  Patients United Now Ad: Strong On Emotion, Weak On Facts

Rather Than Waiting In Line, Americans Simply Do Not Get Care. As Ezra Klein argues in the Los Angeles Times, “although Britain and Canada have decided that no one will go without, even if some must occasionally wait, the U.S. has decided that most of us who can’t afford care simply won’t get it.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/7/09, emphasis added]

Without COBRA Or Other Health Coverage, People “Are More Likely To Forgo Needed Medical Care And Incur Medical Debt.”  A December 2008 report released by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured stated: “many workers find that after losing a job they are not able to afford the premiums required to continue employer-sponsored insurance through COBRA…Without insurance, these adults are more likely to forgo needed medical care and incur medical debt. They are also at risk of having their health problems treated as pre-existing conditions if they later regain employer-sponsored coverage.”  [, accessed 1/14/09]

The debate as Media matters and others have pointed out is false one where Democrats are pushing for a Canadian single-payer plan versus good old die of cancer because you can’t afford health-care. Democrats are pushing for a public option, not Canadian style health-care.

Also from MM, NY Times ignores House health bill’s exemption protecting small businesses

The New York Times reported that House Democrats’ health care bill levels “a payroll tax — as much as 8 percent of wages — on employers who do not provide health insurance.” But the Times did not note the bill’s exemption protecting small businesses.

Whether its the citizens of the U.S. deciding to pool their resources to get health-care for almost everyone, a corporation’s restructuring plans or a military’s strategics battle plans, the best plans are going to hit some snags or things might even going smoother then predicted. The point is there is no evidence, but plenty of right-wing and insurance industry propaganda, that a public health option would not be good for the country in the long term.

“A Public Plan Would Provide An Essential Option” For Americans.  Harold Pollack, public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies, wrote in an op-ed: “A public plan would provide an essential option–and an equally essential backup–for millions of Americans living with chronic illnesses or disabilities.” [The New Republic, 3/10/09]