Monday, June 29, 2009

Working Poor Cannot Get Medicaid & Cannot Afford Private Health Insurance

Why do I care if poor & poorer people can get health coverage, or not, if I have my own employer provided health insurance? Well, first, I'm not a selfish CINO, like so many social and fiscal conservatives are. But more importantly, and very personally, in the 2nd week of May, my employer based health insurance gleefully dropped my son from coverage on the last day of his classes - since he is over 21, no longer a full time student, and does not have a disability that makes him life-long dependent on Dr. Desert Flower & I. So on May 6th, the 63 day fuse on COBRA was lit.

Since Congress and the Obama administration can't get their act together to pass any legislation, Wyden-Bennett or otherwise, to fill that gap, we looked into signing him up for Medicaid. He's making all of $17K/year, while he waits for his Neuroscience Laboratory job approval process to slowly grind forward. Well, the Federal cut off for Medicaid & food stamps is $15K/year. So if he quit job, moved into Federal low income housing, and did not work, he would qualify for Medicaid & food stamps.

With Federal assistance not a viable option, we either needed to sign our son up for COBRA at $450/month (yes, $5.4K a year), or get him a mediocre private policy, with a high deductible, to cover him so that the next time he needs to go to the emergency room for vomiting stomach flu, or breaks a bone while riding his bike to work, it won't cost him 6 times more than someone with insurance. Blue Cross of South Carolina has a nice website (that doesn't lock up like United HC's), and provides a plan for about $150/month (~ $1800/year) with $500 deductibles. Our son can't afford that, AND eat, AND pay rent, on $17K/year, so 'for his 22nd birthday' we've enrolled him in a private health care plan. "Best Health Care System in the World"? LMFAO!

So hopefully, over the next year, Congress will get off their ass, and pass SOMETHING that
1) doesn't drive behaviour towards the sloth of unemployment
2) covers EVERYONE, regardless of under-employed and under-paid they are, at rates they can afford
3) doesn't exclude pre-existing conditions
4) doesn't allow anyone being dropped when they get sick or injured
5) pools risk in large populations (just as employer provided insurance does now)
6) is transportable Over State Lines (which Wyden-Bennett, is not)
7) covers preventative care, and wellness care, to encourage the right behaviours
8) gets the inefficient and extremely wasteful 3 administrators/doctor ratio in the US, down to a 1 admin/doctor ratio that Europe, Japan, Canada, and other industrialized nations have.

My confidence level that federal Legislators will pass something that helps the poor, including our recently emancipated son, anytime in my life-time, is extremely low. Hopefully, the Neuroscience Lab's screening process will be able to go forward, my progeny will attain gainful employment that includes employer based insurance (since a National Plan is only available outside the USA in other more advanced Western Industrialized counties), and Mom and dad won't have to subsidize health insurance for children who are over 21, no longer full time students, who are not dependents, and who make more than $15K a year, but not enough to pay rent and eat.

Going without health insurance, in a country with no safety net, is not a viable option.

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