http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE5530Y020090604Medical bills underlie 60 percent of U.S. bankruptcies: study
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
June 4, 2009
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Medical bills are behind more than 60 percent of U.S. personal bankruptcies, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday in a report they said demonstrates that healthcare reform is on the wrong track.
More than 75 percent of these bankrupt families had health insurance but still were overwhelmed by their medical debts, the team at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School and Ohio University reported in the American Journal of Medicine.
"Unless you're Warren Buffett, your family is just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," Harvard's Dr. David Himmelstein, an advocate for a single-payer health insurance program for the United States, said in a statement.
"For middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection," he added.
]http://www.pnhp.org/news/2010/january/denial-of-care-profits-73-million-for-cigna%E2%80%99s-retiring-ceoDenial of Care Profits: $73 million for CIGNA’s retiring CEO
By Donna Smith, National Nurses Movement
January 7, 2010
It’s hard for most of us to imagine a lifestyle supported by a $73 million retirement bonus. It’s even harder to imagine a whole nation’s healthcare controlled by those who have benefited so wildly from denying healthcare to those who need it.
But Cigna’s Edward Hanway knows well what it feels like to rest in the lap of luxury thanks to all those profits he helped secure as he led one of the nation’s for-profit insurance giants through some very successful times. And as we lumber toward a new piece of healthcare legislation with new promises of expanded health insurance coverage and mandate for both individuals and employers to purchase private health insurance plans, insurance companies will have even more control over our healthcare – and the denials of care that make companies like Cigna pay out such obscene bonuses.
According to CIGNA’s press releases, Hanway had served in leadership capacities with America’s Health Insurance Plans, and the Alliance for Health Reform. “He is an outspoken advocate at the national level for greater transparency regarding health care quality and cost information available to consumers and a strong proponent of national quality standards for health care providers. He is recognized as a leader in the effort to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care in the United States. Through the years, Hanway has been active in a wide range of issues and initiatives associated with health, education and international business.”
BEFORE you read further…National Nurses United, the new national union for RNs, is asking nurses and patients to demand Congress remove the mandates that would force Americans to purchase products from the CIGNA’s of the world. Call Rep. Pelosi (415-556-4862) and Sen. Reid (702-388-5020) and tell them to strip this bill of the CIGNA-mandates immediately!
Under Hanway’s leadership, Cigna also did what for-profit insurance companies do so very well to enhance the profits that become multi-million dollar bonuses. They denied care to thousands upon thousands of policyholders, and the company profits were protected.
]http://pnhp.org/news/2010/march/pro-single-payer-doctors-health-bill-leaves-23-million-uninsuredPro-single-payer doctors: Health bill leaves 23 million uninsuredA false promise of reformFor Immediate Release
March 22, 2010Contact:
Oliver Fein, M.D.
Steffie Woolhandler, M.D., M.P.H.
David Himmelstein, M.D.
Margaret Flowers, M.D.
Mark Almberg, PNHP, (312) 782-6006, firstname.lastname@example.orgThe following statement was released today by leaders of Physicians for a National Health Program, www.pnhp.org. Their signatures appear below
As much as we would like to join the celebration of the House's passage of the health bill last night, in good conscience we cannot. We take no comfort in seeing aspirin dispensed for the treatment of cancer.
Instead of eliminating the root of the problem - the profit-driven, private health insurance industry - this costly new legislation will enrich and further entrench these firms. The bill would require millions of Americans to buy private insurers' defective products, and turn over to them vast amounts of public money.
The hype surrounding the new health bill is belied by the facts:*
About 23 million people will remain uninsured nine years out. That figure translates into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering. *
Millions of middle-income people will be pressured to buy commercial health insurance policies costing up to 9.5 percent of their income but covering an average of only 70 percent of their medical expenses, potentially leaving them vulnerable to financial ruin if they become seriously ill. Many will find such policies too expensive to afford or, if they do buy them, too expensive to use because of the high co-pays and deductibles. *
Insurance firms will be handed at least $447 billion in taxpayer money to subsidize the purchase of their shoddy products. This money will enhance their financial and political power, and with it their ability to block future reform. *
The bill will drain about $40 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the tens of millions who will remain uninsured. *
People with employer-based coverage will be locked into their plan's limited network of providers, face ever-rising costs and erosion of their health benefits. Many, even most, will eventually face steep taxes on their benefits as the cost of insurance grows. *
Health care costs will continue to skyrocket, as the experience with the Massachusetts plan (after which this bill is patterned) amply demonstrates. *
The much-vaunted insurance regulations - e.g. ending denials on the basis of pre-existing conditions - are riddled with loopholes, thanks to the central role that insurers played in crafting the legislation. Older people can be charged up to three times more than their younger counterparts, and large companies with a predominantly female workforce can be charged higher gender-based rates at least until 2017....
It didn't have to be like this. Whatever salutary measures are contained in this bill, e.g. additional funding for community health centers, could have been enacted on a stand-alone basis.
Similarly, the expansion of Medicaid - a woefully underfunded program that provides substandard care for the poor - could have been done separately, along with an increase in federal appropriations to upgrade its quality.
But instead the Congress and the Obama administration have saddled Americans with an expensive package of onerous individual mandates, new taxes on workers' health plans, countless sweetheart deals with the insurers and Big Pharma, and a perpetuation of the fragmented, dysfunctional, and unsustainable system that is taking such a heavy toll on our health and economy today.
This bill's passage reflects political considerations, not sound health policy. As physicians, we cannot accept this inversion of priorities. We seek evidence-based remedies that will truly help our patients, not placebos.
A genuine remedy is in plain sight. Sooner rather than later, our nation will have to adopt a single-payer national health insurance program, an improved Medicare for all. Only a single-payer plan can assure truly universal, comprehensive and affordable care to all.
By replacing the private insurers with a streamlined system of public financing, our nation could save $400 billion annually in unnecessary, wasteful administrative costs. That's enough to cover all the uninsured and to upgrade everyone else's coverage without having to increase overall U.S. health spending by one penny.
Moreover, only a single-payer system offers effective tools for cost control like bulk purchasing, negotiated fees, global hospital budgeting and capital planning.
Polls show nearly two-thirds of the public supports such an approach, and a recent survey shows 59 percent of U.S. physicians support government action to establish national health insurance. All that is required to achieve it is the political will.
The major provisions of the present bill do not go into effect until 2014. Although we will be counseled to "wait and see" how this reform plays out, we cannot wait, nor can our patients. The stakes are too high.
We pledge to continue our work for the only equitable, financially responsible and humane remedy for our health care mess: single-payer national health insurance, an expanded and improved Medicare for All.Oliver Fein, M.D.
President Garrett Adams, M.D.
President-elect Claudia Fegan, M.D.
Past PresidentMargaret Flowers, M.D.
Congressional Fellow David Himmelstein, M.D.
Co-founder Steffie Woolhandler, M.D.
Co-founderQuentin Young, M.D.
National CoordinatorDon McCanne, M.D.
Senior Health Policy Fellow
Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org
) is an organization of 17,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance. To speak with a physician/spokesperson in your area, visit www.pnhp.org/stateactions
or call (312) 782-6006.