Thursday, August 06, 2009

The $22,000 Baby

Sarah Wildman did everything right. She went and got health insurance before she got pregnant, as our preposterous system labels pregnancy as a "preexisting condition" and doesn't cover it. But then, after paying all the numerous copays, she found her insurance policy didn't cover labor, delivery or a hospital stay, despite her rider for maternity coverage. How stupid of her to expect maternity coverage to pay for those added extras.

Now you're probably asking yourself, "Why couldn't she just have her baby at work or something?" At a high school I used to work in, a paraprofessional had a baby in the cafeteria one day. Now there was a woman who didn't believe in any of those wasteful frivolities. But actually, as she had government health care, like me, and like prominent public health care foe Rudy Giuliani (who was treated for cancer while he carried GHI), she was whisked to a hospital by ambulance and ended up getting the same care as Ms. Wildman, paying only whatever the GHI deducatable was at that time.

There's a happy ending for Ms. Wildman. When she told her insurance company she was writing an article about them, they suddenly decided to cover 90% of her expenses. But for many Americans, that's not the case. One way private insurance companies make their money is by denying coverage to people who fail to protest. That's just one reason why we should all oppose the privatization, or "for-profit" status of Emblem Health, which administers GHI and HIP, even if its IPO enriches the coffers of our unions.

It's the business of "for-profit" organizations to maximize profits, not to help you. And the results for working Americans are catastrophic:
...a new report from the American Journal of Medicine found that in 2007, 62 percent of declared bankruptcies were by people with staggering medical bills—even though 80 percent of them actually had health insurance.

Every industrialized country in the world but us avoids this one way or another. If President Obama manages to solve this problem, despite his preposterous and unfounded positions on education, it will have been worth voting for him. If not, well, we may as well have left GW to continue flushing our future down the toilet.
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