I recently received a newsletter from Colorado Health, which is basically a brokerage for those seeking "affordable" health insurance. According to Colorado Health, health insurance rates will increase from 21 to 34 percent this year. Also, unfortunately, some carriers are leaving the Colorado market altogether in "certain areas." There is no doubt that rural western Colorado is one of these "certain areas." This means that a lot of us will "certainly" have fewer health insurance choices with higher premiums and deductibles.
The health insurance industry is a complex, profit-oriented machine, driven by people's fear of bankruptcy because of astronomical health care costs. Have you ever heard of an insurance company declaring bankruptcy? Insurance companies have been given free, unregulated rein to decide what they will cover on your medical bills. Now, they have been given free rein to decide what areas they will offer their services. The stable hands assisting with those "free reins" are called lobbyists and politicians.
Sarah Palin was pretty much "right on" regarding "death panels," she just failed to identify the true culprits, health care insurance companies.The following is from an article in National Nurse Magazine by Donna Smith. Donna is the executive director of Health Care for All Colorado.
"The current health care system is brutal. It does not allow us to show the care for one another that many believe is consistent with our broader values as Americans. Our society is paying more attention to inequality of late, whether it's racial, economic, or health care inequality.
"I believe economic inequality is what drives the despair that crosses all racial and cultural divides and keeps people shuttered in their homes until appalling events turn quiet desperation into active rage.
"Yet, in our society, we've become mostly silent participants in our own oppression. We've so ingrained the notion of personal financial responsibility in our market-based system that patients, their families and friends often struggle alone to remedy a medical debt crisis.We see it as the individual's fault if he or she has not worked his or her way out of difficult economic conditions.
"Basically, it doesn't matter whether you are white, black or brown, if you haven't worked hard enough to lift yourself out, you deserve to struggle for life's basic necessities of health care, housing, food, water, transportation, education and safety.
"I believe health care is a human right, that no one should go without care when it is necessary, or suffer financial ruin afterwards."
I agree! According to the Colorado Rural Health Center, almost 10 percent of rural western Colorado families are living below the 2014 federal poverty line, which is $23,850 for a family of four. Twenty-three percent of rural children in Colorado live in poverty, and 36 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Twenty-four percent of rural Colorado are single family households.
Health coverage for a 50-year-old rural Colorado man is $532 a month, while the same 50-year-old urban Colorado man pays $352 a month with more access to health care providers and facilities.
Having been a registered nurse for 30 years, I've watched an overall decline in health care. It can take months to get an appointment with a "specialist." There are more secondary complications and infections because of insurance companies' refusal to cover adequate follow-up treatment. Now health insurance companies can deny entire "certain areas" coverage because it marginalizes their profits.
What can we as residents of a "certain area" do to save ourselves from bankruptcy for a medical crisis and the greed of insurance companies?
Number 1, register to vote!
Number 2, think of what you and billionaire presidential candidates, and those receiving millions from insurance lobbyists have in common when it comes to you and your family's health care before you vote.
Number 3, write your legislators and remind them that the Declaration of Independence celebrates the value of every life as equal, and as such, all residents of our state should have similar access to affordable and adequate healthcare.
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