I volunteer with an organization that helps families through emergencies that could otherwise cause financial ruin. I can’t say that we are one hundred percent effective, although I will say what we do does help. We’ve had numerous experiences whereas the family who would have otherwise been forced to leave their home have kept it because we stepped in. Where we can’t pay a mortgage or rent, we will take the cost of food off the backs of families for several weeks. We will help with clothing and Christmas gifts as well. We’ve provided special needs that couldn’t be found elsewhere. We’ve helped teenagers finish school, we’ve paid for prescriptions, and we’ve moved families because of burn outs, mold or even women and children moving from shelters to apartments. We’ve done quite a bit, and quite effectively at that.
I’ve been part of this group for twenty years. In my experience, the one thing most of the families find themselves up against are health care costs. Whether they have insurance or not, we’ve seen more families in trouble. And each year it’s worse than the year before.
The experts say it is because of Wall Street. Personally, I can’t confirm that.
What I can confirm is this: I’ve seen men women and children have coverage denied because of pre-existing conditions. One man we helped was told he couldn’t receive workers’ compensation insurance because he fell at home and claimed it to have happened at work. The doctor confirmed that the man had shattered several vertebrae and couldn’t walk. Another man we helped also sustained an injury to his vertebrae while at work. In doing so, he saved another man’s life. His insurance company refused him coverage because if he hadn’t stepped in to help, he wouldn’t have been injured. After all, the cost of a burial is a lot cheaper than operating on someone’s back. I’ve heard stories about women losing coverage because their so-called pre-existing condition happened to be a pregnancy.
I can’t count how many people have asked us for help because employers can no longer afford to carry insurance on their employees. With costs rising and paychecks stagnating, people cannot afford to replace it either. The hardest part of that is when someone becomes so sick, their employer lets them go because they’ve lost too many days. Thanks to the Family Leave Act, signed into law by President Clinton, when someone has lost ninety consecutive days of work, the employer is now allowed to hire someone to replace him.
We’ve helped people whose insurance is paying for medical cost, although the out of pocket costs are incredibly high. That can be overwhelming. It’s harder each day to keep a family together, healthy and fed when a paycheck means so little.
What most people don’t realize is that all these costs are accumulative. When one worker loses his insurance, he has to depend on some other way of paying for his health care. What usually happens is that he puts off medical care that could have easily cured him because he doesn’t have the extra money to visit a doctor. Worse yet is the cost of medication. Even if he could swing the cost of a doctor’s visit, he has to wonder how prescriptions are to be paid for. It isn’t until that person is so much worse that he visits a hospital. They are required by law not to treat the individual, but to stabilize him. One would think that the patient is off scott free because there is a law. Well, there’s nothing in that law that says the hospital can’t recoup their costs. Before that patient walks out of the emergency room, he is required to sign papers saying that he is responsible for his debt. If he can’t pay, then the hospital turns to a collection agency. After that, the unpaid-for cost is picked up by increasing prices on other patients with insurance. If a patient is lucky enough to receive Medicaid, he will get the treatment. The hospital has to wait for payment. Here in Illinois, that wait can be years.
As I said, the effect is cumulative. Hospitals in this area have gone under because of the price involved in treating the poor. With the housing crisis the way it is, and unemployment as high as it is, more and more people are losing their insurance daily and Medicaid is accepting fewer claimants. Inevitably people are losing their lives. There was a tragic story about how a new mother and her baby both caught pneumonia. Before they could get help, it turned to double pneumonia. Before they could find someone to treat them, both passed. Something has to be done now, before this problem takes down the rest of the economy.
Is Obamacare unconstitutional? Then so is providing housing, food and the opportunity to work for one’s family and the American dream. The more people that are healthy, employed and well-paid there are, the better off all of us are.