The following Sunday forum is in response to “Lack of affordable health insurance rated a top concern” (Aug. 13).
The recent N.C. Influencer Series article reveals significant support from top leaders in N.C. to expand health insurance coverage for low-income individuals.
Even those respondents reluctant to back Medicaid expansion are willing to consider ways to provide health insurance to low-income people that include shared responsibilities. Such an alternative proposal was introduced in April of 2017, HB 662 Carolina Cares, but never left legislative committee.
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Every day we delay action, families who have no health insurance are suffering. There are nearly 400,000 uninsured people in our state who are in the insurance gap. Their incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid, but too low to afford private insurance. These are working families – not loafers, but people working in paying jobs whose combined incomes don’t cover their families’ living expenses and health insurance.
It is time the working people of N.C. in this health insurance gap to have access to health insurance. The General Assembly needs to note the cited responses of our leaders, take notice of the 34 other states that have made the health of their citizens a priority and find a solution for all North Carolinians.
In the most recent N.C. Influencer Series article, Art Pope said he doesn’t think everyone is entitled to universal, “free” health care . First, it is not an entitlement, but guaranteed under “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And it would not be free – like Medicare and Medicaid, it would be paid for through taxes (but eliminating all insurance premiums).
He also says it would be low quality and more costly. But nations with universal care have far better overall health and longevity results than the U.S., especially maternal and child health, and they pay roughly half of the cost per person as we do.
Pope wants health care “freedom” to choose your insurer and coverage, and expects volunteer charities to care for the over 300,000 North Carolinians who have no health coverage. Really?
America is the only developed country in the world without universal health care, though we have great health care for those of us who can afford it.
Robert D. Brown, Ph.D.
Expand health care
Among the “thought leaders” surveyed for the Influencer Series concerning access to affordable health care , a recurring theme voiced by several participants is reminiscent of a slogan once popular among British trade unionists: “I’ve got mine, Jack,” and the heck with the rest of you.
In general, they insist that individuals must fend for themselves, with no reliance on “intrusive” government-regulated or tax-supported programs.
As expressed by one commentor, government should not encroach on the “health care freedom” of every person “to decide how much health care or health coverage to buy, in what form, and from whom.” His prescription for dealing with “those in need who cannot provide for themselves” is reliance on “voluntary charitable care.”
Others who apparently oppose any government involvement in promoting affordable and universal health care resort to denigrating those “poorest countries” of the world that have sought to implement such an ideal, in one instance suggesting that such countries are failed states that often violate the “true” rights of their citizens (as distinguished, apparently, from the “false” right of universal health care) by “killing or imprisoning them.”
They decline to mention those relatively “wealthy” countries that have successfully adopted and implemented such a health-care ideal.
Long and short of the matter, many people opposed to improving access to affordable health care simply don’t want to be taxed to help “pay for” any programs assisting people who, through no fault of their own, cannot afford access to our very expensive health care system.
If such self-absorbed views prevail, the lives of many of our fellow citizens will be stunted by and often prematurely ended by health problems that could have been treated successfully.
Lead in health
In the latest article in the Influencer Series, Art Pope says that “even good faith attempts to provide ‘universal health care’ result in government run health care that is rationed, of poorer quality and more costly.”
What he has described is our current system.
Other developed countries provide health care at half the price per person, cover their entire populations and achieve better outcomes than we do. We could do that by improving Medicare (with coverage of more services with fewer co-pays) and extending it to all. Though taxes would be a little higher, our individual and national health care costs would be lower.
As a family physician, I would sleep better at night knowing patients could keep appointments and get medications. And as a citizen, I would feel better knowing that no one would have to worry that an illness might bankrupt their family.
Let’s use our American ingenuity to design our own system based on Medicare, the most popular health insurance program in the country. Instead of leading in expense, let’s become leaders in health.
Jessica Schorr Saxe