runaway twitter insurance poll & the power of social media & sharing stories

hola comrades

so yesterday something extraordinary happened while i was diddling around on the train from philly to boston, coming home from an overnight trip to do a kickstarter house party, saturday night.

i was casually reading the sunday new york times (one of my very favorite combinations in life: train, coffee, ping-ponging between reading the newspaper, my twitter feed, and looking out the window at the new england coastline) and i read this article in the sunday review section: A Possibly Fatal Mistake. long story short: when you’re uninsured and the shit hits the fan, the shit….hits the fan. i had a to-do list of other things to focus on (a blog about my houseparty, for one, which was AWESOME…thanks ellen & michael!!), but….

it hit a nerve with me, and i sent a few musing tweets about my own experiences with insurance…

most small-to-mid-level musicians i know don’t have health insurance. some musicians find tricky ways, some pay, most take the risk & pray.

when i was in my early twenties, buying my own insurance would have been equal half my rent. it just didn’t seem like an option. (cont…)

my parents had just watched the death of my step-brother (uninsured when stricken with a disease) almost destroy the family bank…(cont).

…and so they DEMANDED i get insurance. we fought. they offered to pay half. i agreed. i was lucky. many aren’t. think about it. #AndVote.

…and then people starting musing back at me, in their own tweets, about their own experiences with insurance. i could tell i’d hit somewhat of a nerve with THEM, and then it occurred to me that’d it’d probably lead to a fascinating cross-section of information if i asked everybody on my feed what their current situation was:
quick twitter poll. 1) COUNTRY?! 2) profession? 3) insured? 4) if not, why not, if so, at what cost per month (or covered by job)?

…and my feed EXPLODED. EXPLODED. i found out that twitter has a twitter LIMIT (you can’t tweet more than 100 tweets/RTs in an hour – which is probably to prevent actual pornbots and such) and i went to “twitter jail” twice. but the force of what people wanted to share was unstoppable. i think i probably got more than 2k responses to the question. i only wish that i could have shared every single response, because the story it’s all telling is huge. deep. painful. crazy.

most eye-opening were the stories about people getting married and/or putting off having children due to insurance problems.

also this: people OUTSIDE the US were looking at all the tweets from the US and feeling really, really, really bad for us. and some younger tweeters (teenagers, i can only assume) were shocked that we americans don’t have what they have (the NHS was getting a lot of love and support from the brits, especially seeing as it’s under threat).
people INSIDE the US couldn’t believe what people OUTSIDE the US didn’t KNOW. this is the amazing power of twitter sometimes. we all think we share common knowledge, and then something like this pops up and BAM – you see a whole bunch of people in different countries shocking the hell out of each other. we all know that lance armstrong doped, that lady gaga gained weight, , etc….but tons of people in the UK/Finland/Australia/etc don’t know the extent to which US people FREAK OUT on a daily/monthly/yearly basis about insurance. how much it changes our lives. and how EVERYbody has a story.


i asked for a volunteer (that’s right folks, a volunteer. we can all send her virtual hugs and high fives later) who might be a geeky statistician wanting to compile the data to step forward and aubrey (@aubreyjaubrey) from michigan did – bless her heart. all of a sudden a total stranger was reaching out to the people on my feed, gathering extra data to put together an actual chart of information.

people really started pouring out their stories. the actual dollar amounts. lots of frustration and shame about jobs, choices, insurance, changing life courses.

the craziest thing that happened is that towards the end of the night, i simply could not keep up with the amount of info and i started seeing something i don’t USUALLY see, as i’m generally wrapped up in a twitter-y amanda-bubble, talking about things like….music and musicians and stuff. all sorts of onlookers started to wander over and talk about what we were doing. and people started saying “hey: there are real stories, HUNDREDS of them, being told over here. you should go look.”

and when they did, they saw things like this…

• 1. US 2. sah-mom 3. Yes after 3 yrs w/none,4. Spouse Union job/$0, b4- $1300.month/mammogram copay-$1700 #InsurancePoll. — Peg(@IowaPeg) (link)

• 1.USA 2. Teacher/private school 3. Shared by employer. I pay $700/ month for HMO for family of four. #InsurancePoll — Shannon Vermeeren (@ghostsandstars) (link)

• 1)US 2)Tech/freelance writer 3)No 4)Lost coverage 4 yrs ago when I left abusive husband, now can’t afford it #insurancepoll — Maggie Croft (@albionidaho) (link)

• 1)USA 2)NURSE 3) no 4) not offered through my agency and too expensive for private. (and I’m asthmatic) #InsurancePoll — Switch65 (@SwitchMe65) (link)

• 1)UK 2)Doctor 3)No 4)Free #nhs care, thank goodness. — David Griffith (@theplaguedoc) (link)

it was then that i realized we could probably hand this hashtag over to the world, take it off my feed (i don’t have the energy to moderate thousands and thousands of RTs…and i shouldn’t, we should ALL do it. so now (tomorrow morning, as i’m writing this) when the majority of the US and Europe are awake (and australia, you’ll be sleepy, but tune in), i’m going to hand this over to the people.


not bad for lettering left-handed, eh?

EVERYBODY can twitter the questions, and the hashtag, and EVERYBODY can share the results.

can you imagine what would happen if EVERYBODY in america (AND the world in contrast) shared their insurance stories and information, and got it trending on twitter, with everybody adding their stories to the pot??? hell, i can’t think of a better way to combat voter apathy, honestly.
this shit is real, yo.

and it’s non-partisan. no judgment. just tweet the question, share your story, and listen back & keep the conversation going.

again, the question to share/ask (and answer if you haven’t yet): quick #InsurancePoll 1) COUNTRY?! 2) profession? 3) insured? 4) if not, why not, if so, at what cost per month (or covered by job)?

the collective conversation is what’s important, and what we will learn with the volume turned way up might really make a REALLY big noise. it already has. and if you wanna share more story, comment below in the blog itself. i wanna read, and seeing the twitter results, everybody else does.

especially heartbreaking: two separate women twittering that they couldn’t afford insurance BECAUSE they were breast cancer survivors (and therefore “high risk.” wow. that is truly fucked.)

let’s do it. it’d be amazing to see #InsurancePoll trending alongside bieber-fever.

i’ll post the gathered data as soon as it’s ready. the results, as DM’d to me a few hours ago by @aubreyjaubrey:
– preliminary info from first 156 responses indicates 24.5% of US respondents do not have insurance because of cost.
– 31.4% of responses were from outside of US. all but one person had some kind of compulsory of government supported healthcare – (that one person was denied)
– 24.4% of those abroad have some employer/private insurance for optometry and dental. individual costs from $45-$90/month. around $250/mo for a family.
– based on responses, Germany appears to be the only other country with extortionate health care costs.

a few hours ago aubrey posted she was off to bed but would continue today and that so far, 240 sets of data had been entered.

and now………dig in…raise your voice…if you want to see/read more about what’s happening, you can also just go read my feed. it’d take you a while, but it’s ALL there.

to start you off, here’s a selection of it from the past twelve hours or so, the first of which is by the author of the times’ piece that got me going to begin with…this is what i love about twitter: strike a match. carry it to the world. pass it off. watch it SPREAD LIKE WILDFIRE. WE ARE THE MEDIA. this rocks.

• Thanks to @AmandaPalmer for following my health column http://nyti.ms/Ou087c with her #InsurancePoll http://bit.ly/blog101512 — Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) (link)

• Was working as a writer for Wired for 40 hours/week for several months, in an office. No health insurance given #insurancepoll — Geeta Dayal (@geetadayal) (link)

• I got married when I got pregnant at 18 for insurance. He was abusive but I stayed 17 years — flowerbudd (@flowerbudd) (link)

• Actor. Insured through my union, eligibility determined by earnings. I worry I won’t make it every single year. — Wil Wheaton (@wilw) (link)

• #insurancepoll USA/dance teacher/ yes/ 454 for myself and 2 sons. Husband covered by job for 100. For fam would be 800. — Karen Fullerton (@kafdancer) (link)

• we were going to get married anyways but she switched Jobs and pregnancy would have become pre-existing cond so we rushed it. — Geof W (@GeofW) (link)

• 1) USA 2) writer 3) Yes 4) Writers Guild of America. Free but I have to write a certain amount of films/TV a year to qualify. — Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) (link)

• Canada. Full-time student and part-time vet assistant. Insured for free because everyone is!! — Marley (@marleybones) (link)

• 1) US 2) artist 3) yes 4) $1800 a month for 2 of us under our small business plan (more than our rent!) #insurancepoll — armyoftoys (@armyoftoys) (link)

• #InsurancePoll 1 USA 2. HS teacher 3.insured PPO 4. I pay $350 a month+$150 meds a month+ after a $3k deductible. ER visit =$600 copay — elephantsgerald (@elephantsgerald) (link)

• 1) US 2) housewife 3) yes, though spouse’s work, ~$400/mo, inclds vision, dental; count myself damn lucky #insurancepoll — Deborah Kelch (@auntie_) (link)

• #InsurancePoll. 1. usa 2. unemployed/disabled 3. yes, COBRA 4. no,/ $700 (and hundreds more that isn’t covered) — Anna Calkins (@morrigan191) (link)

• #insurancepoll USA, chiropractor/library aide, $1000/mo with $6500 deductible for family, have never met deductible — Leah Osterberg (@LOsterberg) (link)

• Musician/freelancer, catastrophic from Anthem at $115/mo. Went to a walk-in clinic and it cost me $400. #insurancepoll — Nicole (@HelloTheFuture) (link)

• #insurancepoll 1. San Francisco, CA USA 2. blogger 3. Yes 4. $1,200/mo for family of 4 — jordanferney (@jordanferney) (link)

• Through mister’s grocery job, family of 4, around $250/month, but there’s still a lot of out of pocket $$. #InsurancePoll — Sara Habein (@sshabein) (link)

• US/AZ, unemployed, yes, free care on Indian Reservation #insurancepoll — Nadia (@LegionRainier) (link)

• #insurancepoll : 1) USA, 2) PT, 3) Y – Spouse’s work covers 4) $1300/mo for fam of 4, $1500 ind./$3000 fam deductible. Denied 2x private ins — Karen (@Submommy) (link)

• #InsurancePoll. 1. USA 2. Unemployed artist 3.Yes -thru COBRA 4. $625/month- looking for full-time job mostly for insurance — Erika I. (@nycowgirl_emi) (link)

• My answer: 1) US 2) doctor/writer 3)Yes 4)Yes: >$1000/mo for family of 5. #InsurancePoll — Atul Gawande (@Atul_Gawande) (link)

• 1. USA, 2. Author, 3. Yes, but 4. Only bc I’m still covered by my parents. Otherwise, too expensive. #InsurancePoll — Victoria Schwab (@veschwab) (link)

• 1) US 2) Physician 3) Yes 4) Free/employee benefit #InsurancePoll — Graham Walker (@grahamwalker) (link)

• 1)Around the world 2)composer/pianist 3) never 4)none #insurancepoll — Lance Horne (@LanceHorne) (link)

• 1) USA 2) Freelance Web/Mobile Developer 3) No. 4) Too expensive. #insurancePoll — Jon (@JustJon) (link)

• Same > RT @greeblemonkey: #insurancepoll 1. Denver CO USA 2. freelance designer 3. COBRA after pre-existing denials 4. $1,500/mo — Bryan Giese (@bugfrog) (link)

• 1) USA 2) UX Architect 3) Insured. 4) Yes, but covered through spouse’s employer. #InsurancePoll — Thomas L. Strickland (@thomasls) (link)

• USA /clerical worker at university lab/ I have ins through employer, but pay over $700/ mo to add family #InsurancePoll — Pixiestix1207 (@pixiestix1207) (link)

• 1)USA 2)Writer/Reporter &married to same 3)Yes 4)No/ self-pay $15K/yr+$5K deductible family of 4 #InsurancePoll @atul_gawande — Philip Gourevitch (@PGourevitch) (link)

• #InsurancePoll 1) USA 2) self-employed 3) yes 4) approx $500/mo for me (age 38) and two kids, 7 and 4. $3300 deductible. :( — Jill Arnold (@Unnecesarean) (link)

• I’m in Australia and pregnant. We have Medicare. Midwife appts all free. Anything goes wrong with my birth or baby it’s free. — Helen Perris (@helenperris) (link)

• 1. US 2.Brand new business owner 3 &4 SISC-free under parents insurance bc of Obamacare (under 26 otherwise couldn’t afford) #InsurancePoll — Luz Donahue (@luzdonahue) (link)

spread the word, tweet the question, share this blog………LET’S DO THIS…

p.s. when i was in Philly, i stayed with my photographer friend kyle cassidy, who gave me his doctor who scarf and sonic screwdriver and took a picture. ACTIVATE!!!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000525560533 Felix Tilgner

    I may be reading this wrong, but I don’t really understand how Germany appears to be the only other country with extortionate health care costs. Everybody pays a little bit and the basic healthcare is free. In Germany I could go to a doctor or hospital or get medicine without having to pay for it. How is that extortionate?

    • http://twitter.com/nyshana Emma

      I suspect a few Germans responded early on who have high salaries, so their contributions are high and they skewed the data.

    • Morticia Adams

      I think it’s not meant that negative like you understood it. I guess it’s such a surprise for people from the US what we are taking for granted. While it is quite usual in Germany that the employer pays half of the health insurance it is very hard in the US to find such a job where these things are included. And if you are in a statutory health insurance here in Germany your husband/ wife and kids are covered with it, too. You could read already the comments above that health insurance in the US costs a fortune.

    • nss

      germany IS actually very expensive. Only full time employees get health insurance paid. As a freelancer, self employed, contracter etc you pay everything yourself. And its not cheap! For a 30ish freelance female designer the MINIMUM cost is around €250 a month for PUBLIC insurance – with prices going up based on your wage. To put this figure in perspective – that’s the same price i pay for my rent! Plus a €10 quarterly fee if you go to the doctors. Plus not all blood tests etc are covered. Coming from Australia, where public insurance is free for all citizens, it really makes me shake my head. BUT seems to be a lot better then the private system in the US though.

      • Linksknoepfer

        No, not only full-time employees are insured. I had health insurance during a part-time job, 20 hours a week. If you work in one of those 400€ jobs, then different rules apply.
        I pay about 3200€/year for my health insurance, and at least twice as much for my rent.

  • Guest

    maybe the rest of the world can shame america into doing the decent and humanitarian thing. good for you taking the info and doing something with it xx

  • watchmeboogie

    Thanks for doing this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rsfortney Meryl S. Fortney

    I came here to read about your insurance poll and ended up seeing an awesome Doctor Who :p I want that screwdriver

  • Emma

    One thing I’d love to know is, for those in the US who say they can’t afford it – how much would it cost? It’s hard to get a good picture of whether “Can’t afford” means “The insurance is stupid expensive” or “I’m on the breadline”.

    • http://twitter.com/JuneauXena JuneauXena

      From the tweets in Amanda’s post, looks like health insurance can range from a little over $100/mo for catastrophic only to $500-$1,500 per month for individual or family coverage. Rates may be significantly higher for people who are not on group plans or who have pre-existing conditions, although if I recall, under Obamacare, companies are not supposed to charge more for pre-existing conditions.

      • Mat_t

        Obamacare doesn’t take effect on existing plans – it doesn’t really take effect until 2014. Prior to then it really only covers people who start fresh healthcare plans for the first time, or renewals after late 2013 or something.

        Why do you think there’s so much politics trying to repeal it? that’s why. They don’t want people able to get healthcare by when the whole thing kicks in.

    • http://twitter.com/sarahblackstock sarah blackstock

      For perspective…

      I know someone who owns a business & is fine on money. (Owns a home outright, new car, boats, etc.) Insurance is $800/month with $2500 deductible & no prescription coverage or doctor co-pays to make regular visits cheaper. It’s basically just there in case something BIG happens.

      Woman with lupus and without the health care reform act no one will ever approve her for insurance without it being very expensive and offering very little help… certainly none that would assist in paying for her lupus treatment (which can require a lot of medication).

      Third person makes a few dollars above minimum wage per hour & is just barely old enough to be kicked off her parents’ insurance. She can barely cover a small apartment, transportation, and food every month, so she goes without insurance and hopes for the best. (She qualifies for one government program that helps pay for her annual exam, which caught something very serious in early stages & paid for the minor surgical procedure, but that plan is under attack in our state now & may not exist by the time she needs to go next — every 6 months to make sure the problem hasn’t returned.)

    • daHob

      Back in 2002, during the dotcom bust, I lost my job as a programmer. I fell almost immediately into another gig, but it was as a 1099 (self-employed) contractor. So, no insurance. I’m a big guy (300+ lbs) but had no pre-existing conditions at the time. Once my COBRA ran out (18 months), because of my weight, I was uninsurable. The only way I could get insurance was through a state run Risk Pool insurance program. I paid $3600 a year for catastrophic coverage. It had a $5000 deductible. So, I was paying $3600 a year solely to cap my possible pay outs at $8600 a year (the $3600 I had to pay anyway, plus the $5000 out of pocket). This didn’t include /any/ preventative care or checkups. Those were all out of pocket. Why would I do that? Because I wrote claims processing software for health insurance companies for years. The uninsured cost of a day or two in the hospital (gall bladder flare up, accident, bad appendix removal, or any number of other relatively minor but emergency procedures) can run easily into the tens of thousands of dollars.

    • http://twitter.com/lunamoth42 Luna

      Just to add to what daHob is saying, your coverage cost is calculated by what insurance companies call “risk”. It calculates based not just upon your own possible issues, but how many people are pooled with you to spread out the risk. That’s why group coverage through an employer is often less costly to the individual. Aside from that, employers often roll the cost of your coverage into your benefits package and if you do pay anything, it is significantly less than what the insurance company is actually charging for your coverage. E.g: Coverage for myself and my husband together is about $1600/month. But my employer pays all of my cover, plus part of my husband’s. I am responsible for $200 of that, which is deducted from my pay. If I had to pay that $1600 out of my own pocket, I couldn’t do it. I don’t have that kind of surplus at the end of the month.

    • http://twitter.com/ladonnapietra la.donna.pietra

      One of the biggest employers in the U.S. (Wal-Mart) is notorious for offering an insurance plan to its employees that they cannot afford, as the expense is nearly equivalent to their take-home pay for one paycheck out of each month.

    • http://twitter.com/raliel robin stevenson

      I think a general National Health Insurance which covers everybody would be much cheaper for all involved after looking at what even basic health insurance seems to cost….

    • http://www.facebook.com/misi.mcfarland Misi McFarland

      As an example of can’t afford it, but don’t qualify for the bread line… I’m a full time university student (adult 47 years old) and live on slightly more or less than $12,000 per year (after tuition). My rent (for a one bedroom apartment) is $505 per month, $6060 per year (and that is extremely cheap where I live in the midwest). I pay $52 per month for phone service, $624 per year. For car insurance and tags I pay about $450 per year (and the insurance is not full coverage, but only the liability required by law). Which all adds up to $7,134…leaving me $4866 per year, or $405 per month for groceries and toiletries, gas, textbooks, eye glasses, the dentist, car reparis, etc. If you’ve seen what the average person pays for health insurance, it’s easy enough to see that I can’t even begin to afford it. Yet I do not qualify for Medicaid (the state provided health insurance) because I don’t have dependant children.

    • http://www.facebook.com/aaron.conwell.5 Aaron Conwell

      I pay $66 a month for single coverage medical and dental (Aetna.) (Gamestop) .No idea if it is good coverage or not, I never use it. Lucky enough to be healthy my first 28 years.

    • Marence

      In Ohio, if you have a pre-existing condition, you can get special insurance. To cover just me, not my husband, would cost about the same as our rent and utilities payment. Since our budget rarely stretches enough to even go out & get a pizza, coming up with an extra $800 a month is improbable.

  • elblooz

    This is an amazing (and sad) poll. What a great service to us all!

  • fabfeathers

    Thanks amanda, shame on america. These other countries caring for their citizens health and her in the us we either die or declare bankruptcy. Sad and mad.

  • Thomas Bohn

    In Germany you don’t pay fixed rate for health care instead you pay rate which depends on your income. It is currently around 15 %, half of that is paid by the employer, the other half is paid by the employee. And it doesn’t matter if you have family members on the plan or not. The rate doesn’t change. This is valid for the public health insurance, not for private health insurance and only describe the basic system.

    • Linksknoepfer

      But keep in mind that “basic” in Germany is not what you have in mind when you think of “basic” in the US, from what I’ve read about the US system.

      • Thomas Bohn

        With “basic” I meant something else, the distribution between employer and employer is no longer 50:50, there is also a limit of the month premium rate, Beitragbemessungsgrenze. I also didn’t mention the Gesundheitsfonds, which I can’t explain w/o getting everybody confused, incl. myself.

  • Pat

    I’m not sure that Kristof is correct on this one. I too believe that an individual has a right to health care, but we’ve got to have a plan that doesn’t bankrupt the nation and take away an individual’s responsibility.

    • http://twitter.com/starkruzr J

      It seems there are many, many other countries that do it without bankrupting their nations. Why are we special?

      I’m also not clear as to why matters of life and death should come down to “an individual’s responsibility” in 2012 in the richest country in the world.

      • http://twitter.com/Detritus2099 David Clark

        The US is special because they have one of the largest military machines on the planet. So all that tax money that could go to… oh I don’t know, having a balanced budget, caring for its citizens, having decent education etc, is instead devoted to killing foreigners that your president disagrees with.

        Now of course free healthcare [because thats what the rest of the first world has – not free insurance but free healthcare] would greatly reduce the motivation for people of low socio-economic background to join the armed forces, so it would be effectively cost neutral…

        • http://twitter.com/lunamoth42 Luna

          “would greatly reduce the motivation for people of low socio-economic
          background to join the armed forces, so it would be effectively cost

          I never even thought about that aspect. Jesus. *smacks forehead*

  • Jaime McLeod

    (I killed my Twitter account a few months ago). I have been fortunate enough to have employer-covered insurance since my early 20s. My sister’s boyfriend, and the father of my niece, was not so lucky. He was in his mid-30s in 2007 when he began to have a horrible pain on the side of his neck. He didn’t have health insurance, but eventually had it check out. Turned out to be cancer. Because he had no insurance, he was placed on a waiting list to receive treatment. The tumor in his neck grew to the size of a grapefruit before any doctors would even see him. After several months of worry and pain, he finally got some treatment – chemo and radiation – but it was too little, too late. He died that same year.

  • Andrew Ragland

    My wife and I bought a farm a year and a half ago, and are trying to get it going. It takes at least three years, on average, to take a farm from inactive to profitable. I have to work a 40 hour a week corporate dayjob in order to have medical insurance and pay the mortgage, which means I’m spending most of my week working for a big evil faceless financial corporation (no, I won’t give its name) just to keep us fed and insured instead of spending that time getting the farm going. Because of this, it’s going to take us many years longer to get our farm up to speed and reach a point where I might be able to leave the corpjob. At this point, I expect the farm to be my retirement instead of my career. Side rant: Buy local, people, your neighbors need the income way more than Wal-mart needs more profits.

    • du2vye

      Well said. This healthcare crisis has stalled the economy. Who can afford to open a business? Oh yea, less competition for the multi-nationals. I think they like it this way.

  • fdhbstephanie

    Lucky that we now have insurance through hubby’s job (we pay ~$450/month & they contribute about 2x that for our family of three). When I had my own insurance about 20 years ago, it was ~$80/month but did not cover any heart-related conditions because of my congenital heart murmur. I asked them point blank “if I get stabbed or shot in the heart, does that mean you won’t cover it?” and they said yes. Obamacare isn’t great but it’s a start.

  • Alwaysill

    I wish more people understood how broken the system is. Almost 9 years ago I started treatment for cancer. I had insurance & I still have over $50,000 of medical debt because treatments to save my life were not covered. I continued to work my job while sick from harsh chemo treatments so i didnt lose the insurance. I’m now uninsured with two preexisting conditions and cannot get insurance. I live everyday with the fear that if the cancer returns I will likely die with lack of proper care.

    • http://twitter.com/Nathaniel_Hoyt An Impormable Thramb

      Nobody should have to live like this, day to day. You deserve better. There are people fighting for you and others in your situation. Good luck.

    • http://twitter.com/MollyAngst Nicole Mack

      wow. I admire your determination to work while receiving chemo. that’s amazing. xo

  • http://twitter.com/lunamoth42 Luna

    US / Administrative Assistant for a non-profit (which is funded mainly through govt grants) / Yes + unemployed hubby (no kids) / I pay $200 a month to cover hubby on my insurance. $1000 deductible + $3000 out of pocket max (per year). Which I met by March of this year when I had my second neuro surgery in so many years for cancer + stereotactic radiotherapy. Without coverage, someone like me would be bankrupt (or worse). My hubby and I want to move back to our home state to be closer to family, in case things get… bad. But I have to keep working until he finds a job because i have this illness. IIRC a new job with health benefits would work out, and that insurer would have to take me with Obamacare in place; but if it’s removed, I could be denied coverage for pre-existing (a condition which will not change until I die).

  • Andrea

    Insurance? Hah! I can’t help but laugh.
    I’m 26, live in SoCal, and am a student employee. I have not had any kind of insurance since I was 19. I make $800/mo (only when college is in session). Kids in their 20s without a nice job they were lucky to land can’t even begin to think of insurance unless their parents step in and help.

    Amanda, what I would like to see is people sharing information. Supposedly there are many organizations and programs to help out people like myself, but I don’t have any idea of where to start, and they aren’t really advertised.

  • LilithVega

    I live in Finland, I work as a traffic manager (I guess that’s the title even though it sounds like nothing that I actually do) for SBS Media and I am covered by my job. If I was unemployed I would be able to make an appointment with a doctor, only I would need to wait for weeks but it wouldn’t cost me much more than 30 bucks per visit. Should I end up hospitalized most of the medical expenses would be covered by KELA (or “Social Insurance institution” as it would be called in English according to Wikipedia). I once spent ten days in a hospital with severe pancreatitis, I was given lots of antibiotics and other medicine, I had several what I imagine are quite expensive tests taken on a daily basis and in the end the whole visit ended up costing me less than 250 dollars.
    I have American friends and every time one of them gets sick I know I can’t tell them to just go to the doctor because I know they do not have this benefit that I do. One of my friends had a severe infection and she bsaically just duct taped herself back together and got back to work. It’s not pretty, makes me worry and makes me sad. Healthcare should be something everyone can afford, not just another way of making money off of someone else’s misfortune.
    The public healthcare may not be top notch in every city over here but it’s better than having to choose between health and bankruptcy.

  • Frances

    I think this is also a good moment for all of us living in countries where health care is almost free to remember how fantastic that is and how lucky we are. I have heard people complain when they are charged $8 to stay the night in the hospital (including examination, foods, care etc).

    I truly feel sorry for the americans.

    • http://www.facebook.com/javispa72 Javier Aladren

      I’d also like to point out that it’s rather sick that people have to feel lucky about having something like healthcare. It really should be a universal right.

  • AD

    I had two bike accidents this year, leaving me with debilitating back problems including a permanently fractured collar bone…because it wasn’t my fault the government will pay for all ongoing treatments, such as osteopathy and hydrotherapy for me as needed until I am better. I get free psychology sessions every year as I have bipolar disorder which means i am unable to work. Because I can’t work I get free public healthcare for anything I need, including dental, surgery- literally anything. I really love America and have visited many many times. My American friends always ask, ‘why don’t you just move here?’ Your health system is the exact reason why.

  • http://profiles.google.com/glenroebuck Glen Roebuck

    My company is dropping all options but the High Deductable Spending Account type. This has a low per cost month but much more up front costs. They paint it as the best option for healthy people but in reality it only comes out equal if you get really sick. In addition no one realizes that the my ppo payments per check are pre tax so of my money is now going to be taxed, and I pay more money for health care unless I spend 2500 in a year in health care payments. With my PPO I always pay 20% of total costs up to 2000 then they pay 100% – now I will have to pay all costs up to 2500 then they pay 100% – which one sounds better to you?

    • Nathan Camp

      Well, as the premiums for PPOs are almost always *much* higher than for HDHPs, reasonably healthy people make up the cost stagger in a hurry. Contributions to your HSA (Health Savings Account, for those unfamiliar) are pre-tax, and your premiums still should be if your employer uses a cafeteria pre-tax setup (likely, since your PPO premiums were pre-tax).

      The big difference in cost effectiveness will come over time, as your HSA contributions remain YOURS permanently, unlike so called “flexible payment programs” that typically accompany PPOs. It’s like getting to keep (in my case) roughly 75% of your former PPO premium every month while retaining excellent protection against anything catastrophic. Some HDHPs (not all) also cover preventative care visits at no cost, and you can definitely use the pre-tax HSA money to cover vision, dental, and orthodontic services, as well as prescription meds (or private vision, dental, or scrip insurance).

      HDHP + HSA isn’t right for everyone, but for relatively healthy young people (or families) it makes a ton of sense. I wish it we’d done it sooner!

  • Breepelope16

    1) U.S. 2) Certified Nursing Assistant 3)No 4) I work three jobs while being a full-time student (Studying psychiatric nursing) and though I can get insurance through some employers, they do not pay any, and the cost per month is more than double my paychecks for all of my jobs combined. I’m just holding my breath for two more years until I can get a single full time job with good enough pay that I can afford it. Until then, I have to hope that I can save back enough money for emergencies, though that seems bleak at this time. The only member of my family with healthcare at this moment is my brother, who is an Army soldier (Infantry). And seeing where the “cuts” in America are going, it doesn’t seem that certain that he will have affordable care soon either.

    Everyone knows that something needs to change with insurance, but it doesn’t seem that there is a clear solution how. In a way, it disgusts me that I am going into a profession that I can’t even afford, but I am still holding out on the hope that things will change. Because even though I am near the low end of the socio-economic status in America, I am in no way the least fortunate. It makes me think, If I have to choose between paying for food or health insurance while getting three measly paychecks a month, what are the unemployed going to do? The homeless? Better yet, the homeless veterans with PTSD or other disabilities? Yeah, there are some jobs out there, but they aren’t accessible for everyone, no matter what angle the government tries to twist it.

  • Guest

    As a Brit living in New York, I’m appalled by US healthcare provision. It’s scary, complicated, bewildering and expensive. I’m put off from seeing healthcare provider even though we have excellent insurance coverage. Seems to me the docs and insurance companies make a lot of money and everyone has to pay huge sums for healthcare (too many unnecessary diagnostic tests performed in the US and too many medications dispensed). Per capita spend on healthcare is >$7000 per year in the US (according to the WHO), twice that of most European companies with free healthcare. Life expectancy in the US is similar to that of former Eastern Block countries! So despite spending twice that of the UK on healthcare, the outcome for Americans is one of lower life expectancy and poorer health. And you know that life expectancy is decreasing for some in the US. You’re just not getting your money’s worth. The system of healthcare provision here is too complicated and it’s not cost effective. I know the NHS is not perfect but at least you get free treatment at point of care and NO-ONE is excluded due to pre-existing conditions.

    • http://twitter.com/TwilightPuppy Rachael

      I’d like to point out that I know plenty of people in the healthcare field, doctors and nurses, who barely make ends meet and afford their own insurance here in the US. Trust me, the money is not going to doctors or hospitals. Plenty of hospitals are going down and can’t help people because insurance companies aren’t paying them squat and patients can’t pay. Plenty of doctors and nurses forgo their own money to try and keep money open for patients. It isn’t doctors getting rich in this country. Only insurance companies.

      • G

        The average salary of a physician in the US is around $150K. Not huge but comfortable. And the practice (if not the physician) does receive some kind of money for ordering diagnostic tests.

        • du2vye

          $150k per year sounds like a lot to me right now. There are many professions that require the same amount of schooling and responsibilites. Specialists average over $700k per year. That is why there is a shortage of general doctors (family practice) and the US is importing them on waivers. US medical students go into specialties. They’d be stupid if they didn’t.

  • Karalynn Shields

    I tried to tweet this over four tweets so it probably didn’t make much sense. I’ll recap here. I live in Alberta, Canada. Some years ago Albertans paid around $400 per year for family health insurance which was usually covered by employer or pro-rated if you had a low income. In order to buy votes the provincial gov’t did away with that premium and I think some people, especially seniors on fixed incomes, have suffered. Also the wait in an emergency room can be ridiculous. The party in power, however, remains in power, so I guess they know who to bribe. Once they gave everyone in the province a random cheque for $400 because we make a lot of money from the tar sands? That was before the global economic downturn, so I doubt they will do that again.

    I now am a stay-at-home mom and my husband works for the provincial government health services department. Of corse basic health care is free, but his benefits include Blue Cross which covers most dental, $2500 orthodontics, $400 for glasses every 2 years, a certain dollar amount per year for each of physio if prescribed by doctor, massage is you feel like it, counseling, dietician, chiropractor, and other things I don’t even know about. He also gets 6.5% of his salary in a health spending account each year which you can spend on almost anything. Things like braces, orthotics, the uncovered portion of prescriptions or other treatments are treated as non-taxable, but if you want a gym membership or golf clubs or laser hair removal (!) they will pay for it but you have to include it as income. He does have a pretty high level job so his benefits are outrageous, but he didn’t even have to negotiate for them. It’s ridiculously lucky for us.

    I know this is long, but I would like to add that things that are not covered by basic health care are provided for children under 18 for free. Eye exams, dental exams and cleanings and other services like speech therapy can be obtained for yor children even if you are working poor (not just on welfare) which I think is an amazing thing. Children should always be provided for.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aanel-Victoria/593356643 Aanel Victoria

      Gosh would you mind making your writings readable? I personally have no time for or interest in trying to decipher an uncapitalized tangle. If you think what you write is important and want people to read it, then please respect your readers enough to make it readable. Thanks.

    • MariVee

      Hi! Also from Alberta; also a huge non-fan of our provincial gov. Their cutting of the Health budget is directly in-line with the Conservative Party’s efforts to convince people to axe the public system altogether.

      As is, gov care covers medical for free until you’re 18, but you end up paying a monthly amount after that. I get additional coverage from my employer despite being part-time because they are amazing. Total, I pay about $72/month for Health Insurance, but it covers everything. EVERYTHING. Even though some Eastern provinces have way better public options, I still consider myself the luckiest person ever when I see what the situation is to the South. You guys have my hugest empathy; hoping against hope for change for you in the US!

    • http://twitter.com/Keltyc Kelty

      Albertan here too, and I concur, our system’s pretty great. We do pay for it with a higher tax rate, however, I’d still prefer that than having to make sure I always have savings on hand for health emergencies.

      My father has had the latest and greatest in heart care (3 pacemakers, open heart surgery twice). Care we definitely could not have afforded had we lived in the US.

      Wait times are definitely troublesome. I have a few techniques if I need to take someone to emergency (one hospital’s very efficient (Rockyview)), try to avoid going in on a Friday night, Sunday night is quietest, etc..). My last visit took 3 hours in and out, which is the fastest yet.

      One last note, the $400 RalphBucks were due to the then superhigh price of natural gas, and was intended to counteract the subsequent high home heating prices Albertans were facing. I agree, something better could have been done with that money. With natural gas prices superlow now, we definitely won’t see that again.

  • Ludovicah

    Have friend in TN, unemployed owing to bipolar disorder, not insured, literally starving artist who has had raging toothache for several YEARS. very sad state. such a great artist

  • http://twitter.com/bkdelong B.K. DeLong

    You may have better luck connecting with folks who focus on “big data” and “open data” research. I’m trying to think of good example projects off the top of my head – ironically, The Woodrow Wilson Center for Intl Policy has been doing a lot of research in the area of crowdsourcing as well as the automation of data collection and analysis on this level.

  • http://www.facebook.com/javispa72 Javier Aladren

    While my story is rather small in comparison, I do have to point out that my insurance only allows me to get replacement contacts (I have astigmatism) every 2 years, and that is only two boxes (one for the right eye, one for the left). That gives me 6 pairs of contacts, and each lens is only supposed to last a month before I replace them. That leaves me with a full year and a half without contacts, so if I want contacts after that I have to pay them out of pockets ($45 a box). Again, comparatively small problem, and I could go without contacts for 2 years and get glasses instead, but if those break, I’m shit out of luck until I can get my prescription renewed (my prescription in glasses costs around $180, though I don’t know if that’s entirely accurate). With college tuition and my 2 year old siblings, I don’t really have the money to deal with this shit. Thanks for your work in bringing this to people’s attention!

    • http://twitter.com/annabunches Anna

      When you have your optometrist appointment, ask them to give you your actual prescription (make sure they give you your Pupillary Distance measurement, too). Legally, they have to give you your prescription – hooray HIPAA! Then, buy your glasses here:


      It’s a good solution for people with no or crappy insurance. I usually get a pair of (relatively) cheap glasses from the doctor to use as a ‘reference’, then buy a backup pair at Zenni. As long as the world looks the same through both sets of glasses, you’re good to go :)

  • ZomNoms

    I feel like an ass that I don’t know if I’m insured or not. I’m 23, from Ireland, unemployed, on disability payments. I pay full price for doctors visits – I’d pay less if I ever get my damn medical card. I’ve had a few procedures done but they were covered by Aviva or something or other, though I’m not sure if it was covered under my mother’s insurance or if I have my own and it’s free or something. I will say this discussion has motivated me to to find out.

  • Cliff Evans

    Too bad we can’t pay for healthcare with hugs, merch, and beer.

  • http://twitter.com/KTenpas Kate Ten Pas

    I live in the US, I’m a Receptionist/Office Assistant. I do have insurance (I don’t know what I pay off the top of my head) but it doesn’t cover anything preventative, so any physicals I shell out of pocket, when it comes time for mammograms (which I will have to do sooner than 50 because breast cancer is in the family) I will shell out of pocket as well. I’m glad, though, for the insurance I have in case (God forbid) anything serious should happen. Eye care is not covered so I have to pay out of pocket for that as well, but that’s not too bad for a basic eye exam at the local Walmart.

  • http://twitter.com/Captain_JID J.D. Ward

    If the healthcare bill hadn’t have been passed, my father’s insurance plan would have stopped covering me in January. The original format was that after I turned 18, I had to be enrolled as a full time college student to stay on it. Now I at least have it til I turn 26, but that may not be an issue since the job that I’m interviewing for in a few weeks offers insurance.

  • Ruth

    I am from the UK, but I was visiting relatives in the US when the big vote of Obamacare was going down and my observation was that Americans (or at least Republicans) have a totally different attitude to healthcare than we do.

    Someone in the comments said that maybe the rest of the world would shame the US into changing the system. I found that the rest of the world horrified Americans. What we have in the UK is too close to communism. In all honesty, it is socialist. I happen to think it is brilliant, but it is socialist. American politics is bred on the idea that socialism is the path to evil. So much of the dialogue I saw on television was using this socialism-scare mongering to suggest that Obamacare would ruin the American Dream.

    I saw an advert on tv in America in which I guy accused Obama of wanting to build more hospitals. As though this is a bad thing. In the UK closing hospitals is cause for strikes, protests, pickets, demonstrations etc. I mean did you watch the Olympic opening ceremony? The NHS makes people feel patriotic! You have to do something dramatic and new to change people’s attitudes to give healthcare that level of importance I think.

    • Sharon Knight

      And yet, building more prisons is just fine here in America. Bizzaro.

    • Marence

      Unfortunately, many Americans believe socialism = communism, and have just enough cultural memory to know communism = Evil, and just enough logical thinking to connect the chain, and figure socialized medicine = Evil.

      You can’t convince them otherwise, while fear-mongering is going so strong and loud in the media.

      • http://twitter.com/Esmertina Esmertina Bicklesnit

        This is exactly the thing. Americans are terrified of Socialism. Particularly Republicans, but Democrats cower in fear of the accusation and distance themselves from any appearance of it. The only thing we fear more than Socialism is Taxes, and when supporting one would increase the other, any corporate interest with profits at stake has ample ammunition to stir up a pitchfork-waving throng to stamp out any hope of changing the situation.

        • Ludovicah

          I find this so strange. Socialism is the natural philosophy of the working person. It protects the many against the greed and abuse of the few and brave Socialists of the past should be revered for all they have done for the rights and equalities we have come to take for granted nowadays. I am proud to be a lifelong Socialist. Don’t confuse Socialism with Communism, and especially don’t confuse it with Stalinism, -which is what Americans appear to have been taught to do. Stalinism is immensely far from the philosophy of Communism also

    • http://twitter.com/BNPQOE Bethanie

      People in the US don’t understand egalitarian systems of government. They think they do, but they don’t. Their perspective on Communism is warped and uninformed. They also don’t understand what Fascism is and often compare it to socialism based on the Nazis alone, not understanding that they called themselves socialists but were not. Which is why during the Obamacare debate many people called the president a Nazi and depicted him as Hitler. People in this country also don’t like to do things such as research candidates, check information, et cetera, choosing to remain ignorant and calling it having ‘principles’. Which is why it is so easy to polarize the nation and to get them to vote for things that are not in their own interest.
      During the Obamacare debate, the opposition – right wing republicans – presented the new health care plan as a socialist/communist operation that will promote abortion, bankrupt the elderly and tax us all to death unless a death panel gets to us first, and people ate it up. They didn’t understand that our healthcare system is being monopolized and manipulated by insurance companies and they didn’t want to. They still don’t. Someone actually told me that they weren’t going to let the government force them to pay to abort babies. It’s twisted.

      I should also note that the opposition made a really big show of depicting socialized health care in other countries – especially the NHS – as a national nightmare in which people died waiting for procedures and doctors appointments.
      America can be a really frustrating place to live.

      • Ludovicah

        The vast majority adore the NHS. If you compare the plight of a British person on a long NHS waiting list and an American with the same condition, but no health insurance, and no healthcare which is better off?. Anyone who twists it around to say that socialized healthcare works worse THAN NO FREAKIN HEALTHCARE AT ALL is sick beyond the wildest imaginings. Besides, waiting lists generally are not at all long, certainly not for really urgent cases so thats a lie too

    • du2vye

      I may be wrong, but I think mainstream TV in the US avoided showing too much of the opening ceremonies showing the celebration of NHS. I would have loved a shot of Romney’s face watching that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Munch-Hausen/100002361393848 Munch Hausen

    You need a few follow-up questions in the poll for those who say they can’t afford it. 4a) Drug User? 4b) Cigarette Smoker? 4c) Do you have money for booze & partying? 4d) How often do you cook at home? 4e) etc…. (You get the picture – we all make choices.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/javispa72 Javier Aladren

      4a) No 4b) No 4c) No 4d) Twice a week, not including my roommate, who cooks twice a week, we eat out once a week and eat leftovers twice a week.

    • Guest

      I think the very important point here is that healthcare does cost money. It is NOT free anywhere in the world. It may be free at point of care but it doesn’t magically appear. It’s paid by some form of taxation. The simpler system, which most European countries maintain, is to include healthcare costs as a part of income tax which allows it to be free at point of care/treatment. It’s probably a simpler and more effective system than the US version and consquently, costs less overall. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch!

    • http://www.bynkii.com/ John C. Welch

      The irony about 4d is that “cooking” at home is not the solution people wish. The food that’s the cheapest to buy is also pure crap, nutritionally. But when you’re feeding a family on $50-$60 a week, you can’t afford to buy things that can’t be used for multiple meals. Rice? not terribly healthy, but a big bag is cheap. that tomato? Much healthier, and it’s good for maybe part of a single meal.

      All that really healthy food you should be eating, you don’t, because it’s expensive and doesn’t last. But a big bag of frozen fries and chicken strips, that’s three dinners right there. If you happen to live in farm areas, you can work around that somewhat, but that’s still what you have to deal with.

      So no, cooking at home is not the panacea people think.

      As far as making choices, well, we make choices with the options we can afford. If they all suck, then well…

    • InsuredPerson

      great point here, one of the things I really like that my insurance company did for 2013 is raise the rate on smokers, and give everyone a discount for participating in prevention type awareness sessions on being healthier. My wife and I are now spending between 650-850 per month on groceries for us and our two kids under 3yrs old, and have really cut out all partying and limited ourselves to shitty american beer at home…its about choices you make, what’s more important to you, feeding your children quality food or….?

    • pgj98m3

      As a Canadian who works in the Health care system I am fully aware that people will misuse anything that they think is free. On the other hand a system that will bankrupt you if you have a severe or prolonged or chronic illness is not the cure for that waste of services.
      When I got into medical school my wife almost died following surgery for Chrohn’s disease. She spent months in hospital much of the time in a unit 1 step away from an ICU. We stopped counting surgeries at 10.
      The cost of her care would have been in the hundred’s of thousands of dollars…we’re talking 1987.
      In a system where someone can hit a cap in spending I suspect we would have been bankrupt along with both of our families.
      I currently pay a shit-load of taxes…but I don’t worry about illness destroying my children’s financial life. The safety net allows us to live without a fear that seems to pervade all but the 1% in the USA

  • http://twitter.com/badgerwrangler kristina waters

    Back before my husband and I married for luv, twu luv, we talked about getting married so I could have insurance. We opted to not do it at the time. Now, being married, I have insurance through the Army via my husband. It’s really cheap, all things considered, and pretty decent as insurance goes. My dental and vision, not so much, but it’s still ok based on the average. Every 4 months or so, there’s an article about government officials increasing the about we pay for medical. It scares me. My husband, when not deployed, makes just about poverty level pay for two people. When he’s deployed, just over. Yes, we get a non taxed allowance for housing, but it’s generally the amount of the average rent/mortgage in the area he’s stationed. If we lived on post, we wouldn’t have it-it’d all go to our housing costs on post.
    Even with all the issues that come up with Tricare, it’s still a decent insurance company. But I hope for the day when healthcare is something that is available for all, pre existing conditions and all, at a rate that people can actually afford.
    My mother’s health is not great. She has no health care-divorced, and making just a smidge over the limit for government assistance. Even if she was able to get assistance, I’d still worry that the care she received would be sub-par given the state that USA government medical programs are currently in.

  • Athene Numphe

    I already responded via twitter, but I wanted to give a longer response here.

    I live in the USA and work as a Education Specialist in the Tech Industry. I pay about $400 a month for a PPO plan to cover myself, my husband, and our son. I also pay about $50 a month for dental + vision. The PPO plan has a $1000 individual / $3000 family deductible. It then pays at 80% for all procedures that are not covered with a co-pay (wellness check-ups are just a $20 co-pay).

    When I had my son, I decided to use a birthing center instead of a hospital. We had to write to the insurance company and apply for “gap coverage” to get the insurance to cover part of the cost of the birth. We still had to pay $3000 out of pocket.

    My husband works as a woodworker. He works for a very small company and has no insurance through them. Before we were married we declared Domestic Partnership (thankfully we were living in MA at the time) so that he could get on my insurance.

    • http://twitter.com/MollyAngst Nicole Mack

      Sounds like we have the same health care plan. Our deductibles are outrageous as well. You’re not alone :)

  • E

    Ireland’s healthcare system is not much better. I’m 23, never had health insurance, because I can’t afford that and neither can my parents. It costs €50 (roughly $65) a pop to go see the doctor, unless you’re going twice in a week with the same problem, then the second visit is €30 ($40), and medicine can cost anywhere between €10 – €80. Luckily I have have never had any serious health problems since I left home, but my brother’s girlfriend has had severe health issues over the past few years, as when she was 16 she was rushed into hospital in extreme pain. The doctor told her father that it was just period pain and she was overreacting, and soon after her appendix burst and poisoned her insides, which she has only gotten properly sorted out in the past few years, because she did not know (she’s 25 now). However, it was made her unable to have children the natural way, so they’re currently in the process in trying for IVF. Because of her health issues she has spent a few thousand for different procedures and to see various doctors, about a third of which she has gotten back off of her own insurance company, and she’s with one of the best in the country. Ireland’s healthcare needs serious reforms too.

  • http://twitter.com/Burge5k Peter Burgess

    I’m very lucky to be in the UK. I cycle everywhere (maybe 40-70 miles a week). Our cycling infrastructure is hopeless and I mix it with motor traffic on narrow streets in London and elsewhere. If I didn’t have the NHS to put me back together if I were to suffer an accident, I might well think twice about whether cycling in traffic was a good idea.
    Cyclists are occasionally hit by traffic and the medical costs of treating them individually is large but there is net benefit directly from a more active population alone, not to mention the wider benefits of improved urban air quality and reduced congestion. The idea that healthcare costs on the individual could possibly be discouraging this is crazy.

  • http://twitter.com/Nathaniel_Hoyt An Impormable Thramb

    I already tweeted, but the full story is that I get screwed even by laws that are trying to fix the situation. I live in MA, where insurance is required by law (thanks Mitt, I guess). We have a generally pretty good state-subsidized network of healthcare providers, and if you’re poor, you usually don’t have to pay much or anything for at least basic insurance. Unfortunately, I’m a self-supported full-time student and therefore for some reason that makes me ineligible for state-subsidized insurance. I guess they assume that I’m a young college kid with mom&dad or loans supporting me. I’m 27, I live on my own, and I’m paying my own way through school working two jobs. The cheapest insurance available to me is through my school at $258/mo (half my rent). I’m using financial aid and some Stafford subsidized loans to cover the costs, but it doesn’t cover everything and I’m just racking up debt.

  • http://twitter.com/Mongolophile Jack Nick Olsen

    That’s ‘something’ of a nerve.

  • http://twitter.com/MollyAngst Nicole Mack

    Amanda, I love you for everything you bring attention to globally. I responded to your #Insurance poll. Im a new nurse, I’m 32 with a husband and a 3 year old daughter who has had medicaid since she was born. I literally just started a job as a psych nurse, and received notice that my daughter was losing her medicaid very soon. I already pay $400 a month for “not-so-great” insurance through my job for my husband and myself. Our rent is $300 per month, so we pay more for insurance than rent. Bella (my daughter) will most likely be uninsured for at least a month until I can get her on my insurance, which will probably raise another $50 a month. It is frustrating to work so hard to pay for SO MUCH for something “just in case you need it”. I wish the US would create health insurance that doesn’t break the bank, and as a nurse, I know that when we visit the hospital, we are paying $14 for a piece of gauze, or $10 for a tube of chapstick. It’s ridiculous. Change needs to happen. I’m both inspired and saddened to read the responses. I know I’m not alone in my frustration.

  • Jenniejade12

    My sister is covered by her husbands insurance plan from his employer, which is great. However, she got food poisoning this past weekend and got extremely dehydrated. Her husband took her to Emergency to get an IV and they waited five hours before giving up and going home. This has happened to me several times as well. I’ve waited as long as 6 hours just to get into a room. So, people without insurance literally cannot afford the care they need during a calamity, and people (uninsured or not) cant get care during a crisis anyway. How do we fix this?

    • Joe M.

      I think maybe America can start by providing a more even health care plan and maybe not charging $55.00 for an aspirin.

      • Jenniejade12

        And $10,000+ for an ambulance? Amen to that.

  • http://twitter.com/miscellanium Cody V.C.

    speaking as a college student, i’m relatively lucky. i get insurance through my parents, and if the part of the american affordable care act that allows for coverage through age 26 stays in effect then i should be able to stay on their plan for a while if i can’t find an employer before then.

    but if the act is repealed, or the provision that bans denying coverage to pre-existing conditions is removed, then it’s extremely likely i won’t have insurance after a certain point. my prescription meds are roughly 150$ monthly, i have severe neutropenia (which apparently necessitates regular lab tests and tracking by an expensive specialist), am deaf and don’t know of any basic plans that cover hearing aids&c. – my parents’ plan doesn’t – and am transgender. my family’s plan specifically excludes anything that they deem to be related to “sex reassignment” – which includes hormone replacement therapy if it doesn’t match what’s on my birth certificate, and any mental health therapy, even though the gatekeeping procedures require it before giving people the go-ahead with medical transitions – and currently the only employers i know of with plans that cover trans* needs are either wall street companies or government agencies that are not hiring. so i guess i’m undercovered.

    my younger sister (20) would also be in serious trouble were the aca to be repealed/amended because she is on medication and attends therapy for adhd, depression, and bipolar disorder. these treatments are several hundreds of dollars a month even with insurance, because as mentioned before the therapy is mostly out of pocket and so is the medication, so if/when her coverage changes she won’t be able to afford what she needs with her retail-job salary. neither of us have to take rent into account yet either, because i live at home and she basically lives with her boyfriend (who also lives with his parents).

    • InsuredPerson

      You are NOT undercovered because you wish you were a man….jesus get real…this entitlement attitude is outrageous.

  • http://twitter.com/barrettag Guy Barretta

    One reason that healthcare for all US Citizens is difficult is because of the size of our country. we have 314,000,000 million people in our country. the United Kingdom has 65 Million, Canada has 35 million, Australia has 22 million etc. As a result, our costs are much higher and will therefore bankrupt the country. If you do not believe this than just look at Medicare and Medicaid. They are good programs but need to be reformed or they will be bankrupt in 20 years. Our country (politicians) never adjusted for inflation or individuals living longer. This is the same issue we will have with Obamacare. Politicians do not know how to think into the future. Should healtchare be more affordable in the United States? Certainly but it should not be mandated. At the same time, if you want to fix healthcare, start with the Insurance companies and keep the government out of it. If you open up the health insurance market, you will be surprised at how fast people end up getting insurance. I have been insured since 21 with a pre-existing condition. My taxes should not be going to help others attain insurance. I take my health seriously and therefore utilize insurance. Others may not see it that way and decide to forego insurance.
    Finally, individuals that are not even citizens in our country have the ability to attain medical treatment without insurance. Go into any hospital and you will see signs all over stating that they will not reject anyone based on their insurance issues. Unfortunately, because of this issue, hospitals are starting to close. Look at Arizona and the numbers of hospitals that are closed. In Northern NJ alone over 10 hospitals have closed in the last 15 years.

    • Guest

      Yes the US may be larger in terms of numbers but equally there are more working adults and so the total numbers accessing healthcare don’t matter. There is still more money going into healthcare in the US than anywhere else with poor bang for your buck. Like it or not, there is a socialised medicine system in the US, I agree but I disagree with how this is implemented. The insurance system, medicare and medicaid are not cost effective healthcare strategies. Which is why people pay so much for healthcare in the US.

    • http://twitter.com/nyshana Emma

      It’s certainly true that the US has a huge population (though 314 billion might be pushing it :P), and thus healthcare costs for the whole country are huge. But, just as costs in the US are far higher than in most other countries, so is GDP. The US can afford universal healthcare, if the politicians can agree on rebalancing the budget priorities.

    • Superfecta

      I also have a pre-existing condition (one that’s quite well-controlled) and have not been able to get coverage, at any price, on the open market – just denials. It’s happened in 4 states. I’m ‘lucky’ to have insurance through my company now (though it covers very little, and we have paid more than $30K out of pocket this year), but I can never again freelance since I’ll still be immediately turned down until the ‘no denials for pre-existing conditions’ provision kicks in. It’s one of many things that makes me want to move back to Europe (I had excellent care on the NHS, and never had to wait for anything – in the US with a better insurance plan than I have now, I still had to wait months for specialist care) or just about anywhere else. We certainly have a problem with a lack of a long-term view in the US, but just wanting to buy insurance and having the money to do so doesn’t guarantee you can actually do that at present.

    • http://twitter.com/ProgressiveATL ProgressiveATL

      All because scale is an incomprehensible variable to you, Guy Barretta, we should let insurance companies (whose obligation is to share holders, not our health) run things? Eeek. Your “therefores” make sense only to you.

      Here’s some scale for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_total_health_expenditure_%28PPP%29_per_capita

      Notice USA is at the very top of that list. 8K per person, what our annual expenditures work out to be — triple and double of what other countries that do far better spend per capita.

      But you got one thing right, Guy Barretta: “At the same time, if you want to fix healthcare, start with the Insurance companies…”

      You nailed that one right on the head. We need to start with the insurance companies. Ten years ago, 40% was the estimate of how much of our health care expenditures goes to paperwork. Based upon what I’ve read since as well as my own experience, that stat is likely far greater now. And that 40% or more would easily cover the uninsured, as well as more adequately cover the rest of us.

      Yes, we must start with the insurance companies. Let’s make health care about health care. Universal coverage is the answer.

    • http://www.bynkii.com/ John C. Welch

      “My taxes should not be going to help others attain insurance.”

      Ah, this canard.

      Okay. Why should people in your area pay taxes to maintain roads you use, but they don’t? If you want to use a road, why aren’t you directly paying that cost? Why should they pay taxes for the cops to protect your house? Why aren’t you directly paying 100% of the cost to hire a security firm to guard your stuff. Why should someone else pay taxes to protect your interests?

      My son graduated high school, why am I still paying for someone else’s kid to go to school? State universities should be shut down unless they can survive sans taxes. if your kid can’t afford school, why should i care?

      On and on.

      The answer of course has multiple parts. One is because most people who aren’t really rich can’t afford to pay 100% of those costs. Building and maintaining roads is rather expensive, and requires more expertise than people think. Same thing with cops, firefighters, etc. But by spreading the cost over everyone, then the individual cost is lower for all.

      Secondly, we all benefit from a well-educated population. It’s how you attract companies that need people to do more than dig ditches. it’s how you create a workforce that can compete in a world where STEM education is as mandatory as basic literacy. It’s how you ensure basic literacy.

      All these “just let private industry handle it and the market will magically smooth it all out” arguments ignore the major history of this country when we had essentially no government regulation at all. For example, fire departments, for many years, were not government services. You paid fire insurance, or they let your house burn down and your family die. that didn’t work out well. Prior to the great depression, bank failures and panics were rather commonplace.

      Between the founding of the US, in 1787, and 1834, there were 8 recessions or depressions, or just under one every 6 years. These regularly included bank panics, which wiped out the savings of the non-rich. (there was effectively no middle class at this time. You were rich, or you were not.) So we aren’t talking about layabouts, but hard working people screwed by bubbles and bank failures. Oh, and the occasional war.

      Between 1836 and 1927, you have 24 recessions/depressions with the attendant bank panics. Because we still didn’t have the FDIC at this point, if your bank went under, your money was gone. Period. Buh-bye. this includes a depression that lasted from 1873 to 1885, and three separate recession/depressions in the 1920s alone PRIOR to the great depression. So for almost a century, you have, on average, a recession/depression/panic every 3.79 years.

      Between 1929 and 2012, you have 14 recessions and one depression, for an average of one every 6 years. But, what you *don’t* have, and this is important, are bank panics causing these (except in one case). Even when banks go out of business after 1933, the individual customers don’t lose all their money. Why? The FDIC, which insures deposits between $2500 (at its inception in 1933) and $250,000 (today). if you have a great deal of money in a single account, you’ll lose some of it, but not all. So the impact of banks going under on the people traditionally wiped out by such things is greatly lessened at the upper end, and entirely mitigated for the lower & middle class.

      (interestingly, between 1929 and 2012, there are only two bank/stock market ‘panic’ – induced recession/depressions. Five were driven directly by costs associated with various wars/conflicts.)

      Under your ‘no government interference in the market ever’ fantasy, there’s no protection for the lower and middle class that they cannot buy on their own. (actually without government watchdogs, there’s no free market, only a series of monopolies that can price things as they choose. What we think of as a “free” market isn’t. Competition is really bad for business. Great for consumers, but bad for margins and profits. Monopolies are much better, as they eliminate competition, giving the monopoly player the ability to control pricing and wages as they wish in that segment, and forming alliances with other players to consolidate control. Look at IBM in the ‘good old days’ to see what an effective monopoly was like, and how they were able to quash innovation they didn’t control.)

      In addition, the idea that the market will eventually cover everyone shows a rather large ignorance of how insurance companies actually calculate risk.

  • Anisetta Valdez

    I’m 28 and lucky enough to be insured in the US. However, I lived the majority of my life (childhood and adolescence) without insurance because my father rarely had a job and according to the divorce decree, he was to the one supposed to be providing insurance for my sisters and I. My mom had decided to run a daycare out of her home so that she could be more present in her children’s lives. I think this was the best possible choice, insurance is important but a 9-5 job would’ve robbed us of our only active parent. When I was 26, I was newly graduated and working as a barista and barely making $1000/mo (thank heaven for being poor and first generation, school paid for itself) and up until I got pregnant with my son in early 2010, insurance wasn’t a huge priority. Thanks to medicaid we got insured quickly and fully and I was able to receive prenatal care. Presently, I work 40hrs and make a steady wage. I work as a paralegal for a small firm i.e. it’s just me and the attorney, so we cannot afford health insurance; we each have to have our own. Thanks to Obamacare going nationwide in 2013 and some of its policies already being in place (my husband is still covered by his parents’ insurance), hopefully our firm will be able to purchase healthcare at a competitive price so that I will be able to continue supporting my family. In case you were curious, my husband, also a recent graduate, works in the service industry as well as film production so without his parents’ insurance he would be uninsured. All 3 of us, mom, dad and baby have disaster insurance though; which as it turns out, is actually, fairly cheap. Go figure.

  • http://twitter.com/MollyAngst Nicole Mack

    As I’m reading these replies I head to my facebook and find this… my friends had a baby nearly 16 weeks early and this is the boat they are in:

    stressed that i am crying ryder will be in the hospital for three to
    eight more weeks and we can’t afford it anymore our thousand dollar rent
    and fourhundred dollar electric and truck payment are all due and now
    our plates on both the van and truck are expired and god knows we are
    trying but i don’t know what to do we pray and pray but jason finding a
    better job when he is working 12 hours a day is proving difficult i
    moved us down here and now everything is a struggle please keep us in
    your thoughts and maybe god will show me what i am missing

  • Katriena Knights

    I’m self-employed (freelance writer). I’ve had my own individual health insurance for several years because my previous employer didn’t offer it or subsidize it. When I first signed on with this insurance company, I payed $168/month. It’s since ballooned to $450/month–more than my car payment and almost half what I pay for rent (cost of living is fairly high in my part of the country–it’s a tiny house). I’ve tried to shop around for lower cost insurance, but a new company refuses to pay for my pre-existing conditions–which are MINOR–slightly elevated cholesterol and slightly elevated blood pressure. But if I switched, my premiums would be lower by about $50/month while they REFUSED to pay for my Lipitor, which without a copay is about $100/month. They also would refuse to pay for any treatment related to kidney stones, which I haven’t had in over two years. How that qualifies as a preexisting condition, I have no frelling clue. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to afford the current premiums next year if they go up as much as they have over the last few years. I’m probably going to have to significantly raise my deductible, thus making myself vulnerable to any major costs I might end up incurring, or switch to a local PPO, where I’d have to drive 40 minutes for any appointments. Or start making a whole lot more money. I realize I’m much better off than many others, but the fact that such minor issues would cause this much trouble makes it that much more obvious to me how absolutely awful it must be for people who actually have real medical problems. I’ve watched a good friend struggle through–and defeat–cancer without health insurance (which she couldn’t afford) who is now fighting to save her house from foreclosure. No one should have to choose between living and paying the mortgage. It’s just wrong.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephanie.cox.92 Stephanie Cox

    USA/Part time/seasonal photog(currently)/ No/too expensive

    My previous job I was at for 5 years. I rocked the tech support. I would pay $160 a month for myself and my girls my employer paid the rest (thanks union!) Up until last year we didn’t have a deductable. This year it was $1800. I rarely used my insurance. Thankfully no major or ongoing illness. Use it here and there for the chiropractor and birth of one child. Was going to get a domestic partnership with my boyfriend of almost 8 years so he could be on insurance so we can find out the issue with his throat but my department got cut. COBRA was too expensive at $1800 a month! Took 5 months to get a part time job that will end Dec 31st that gives me a whopping 12 hours a week. I’m praying nothing happens to us health wise because we are financialy screwed anyway. 3 years ago he had an emergency appendectmy that would have cost us $10000+ but since the hospital had some angelic donors he was able to walk out with no bill. It kills sometimes because he has been a stay at home dad for 6 years. Hoping I can get on at a factory so we can get insurance on us all.

  • http://twitter.com/LittleJanelleS Janelle Sheetz

    I tweeted you two stories in addition to my own, but I figure I’ll elaborate here. PLUS I keep thinking of more as I read.

    First, when I was a junior in college, one of my writing professors took us on a trip into Pittsburgh to do some travel writing. The seniors on the trip spent the ride back talking about all the doctors’ appointments they were going to cram in before graduation, while they were still covered by their parents’ insurance (this was still before coverage was extended to the age of 26). I remember the professor feeling bad for them and saying, “Hopefully, Obama can do something to help you out.”

    Meanwhile, I managed to be covered under my mom’s insurance for the few months I was unemployed after my own graduation, and my brother’s in school and is covered under her. Now I’m covered through my job but pay $100 a month into it for health, dental, and vision, but most of the cost is my actual health insurance. Dental and vision are a few bucks each, I think.

    And then there’s my good friend/college roommate. She was dropped twice without warning and pretyt much found out when she tried to fill prescriptions. She’s diabetic, has migraines, and tons of other health problems that require lots of pills and doctors’ visits. When she got dropped, she discussed–and I even suggested/supported–marrying her fiance earlier than planned to be covered under his insurance. When she did have her coverage, they refused to pay for certain medications and insisted they were unnecessary, despite her doctors saying otherwise. In one case, they refused to cover her Epipen and said she didn’t need it. She since has married that fiance, and he has since decided to join the Navy–I believe in part for the money and health insurance, as she’d get full coverage.

    AND THEN there’s my boyfriend’s family. His parents and five siblings are uninsured, as well as himself. They’re pretty lucky and haven’t had many medical problems, but it costs over $100 without it just to be seen at MedExpress–not including prescriptions or anything else he might need.

  • http://twitter.com/ShannonXL Shannon L

    I live in the US, I’m no longer a student but thankfully still covered by my Dad’s insurance (thanks to Obama’s healthcare bill). I work retail (my company doesn’t offer coverage to anyone, part or full-time), I am a freelance stage manager, and an actor. I can’t afford to pay for my portion of the insurance bill, and I’ve had to pay hundreds of dollars in co-pays and deductibles in the past year (for simple things like birth control and blood tests). I make around $600/mo, which covers rent and leaves $20-$60 for everything else (student loans, medicine/insurance, food). I actually need to see a blood specialist (and have needed to for months), but the only one covered by my insurance was 4+ hours away. Now, there is one closer, but not completely covered. So, I can go and spend hundreds that I don’t have, or I can not go, and hope what is wrong with me doesn’t get worse, since I can’t afford that either.
    Part of me also knows it’s better to wait, because the blood specialist may give me a diagnosis (I know I have a chronic condition, I just don’t know what it is). I can only stay on a parents’ insurance until I’m 26, if I’ve been diagnosed with something expensive, I’m worried I won’t be able to get insurance at all, even if I can afford it, because of a pre-existing condition.

    tl;dr: there are incentives for me to wait until I’m incredibly sick (making my care much more expensive, making me unable to work, and making my illnesses more difficult to treat), instead of preventing illness in the first place.

    • http://palimpsest.typepad.com/frogsandravens Rana

      “if I’ve been diagnosed with something expensive, I’m worried I won’t
      be able to get insurance at all, even if I can afford it, because of a
      pre-existing condition.”

      Before I got married, and was self-insuring myself, I put off regular doctor’s appointments for about ten years because of that fear. The jobs I had were all short-term and lacked benefits, and required me to move regularly. If you cross state lines when you move, you can’t take your insurance with you, even if the same company offers plans nationwide; you have to apply for new insurance in each state. I couldn’t risk being diagnosed with something that might be a pre-existing condition, so I just didn’t go.

  • InsuredPerson

    Dont forget about those of us who have affordable healthcare right here in the eeeevil USA…my answers:
    1) USA 2)Database developer 3)YES via employer @ $500/mon for family of 4
    Its decent insurance too, all preventative covered free, deductible 1200/person or 2400 family…its not all bad out there people. When I read these stories I see a lot of tragic things, but I also see a lot of whining and unemployed begging for a handout. That kind of attitude is what polarizes people against ‘socialism’ here I think…yes yes we should take care of people but there have to be limits, why should my hard work and earnings pay for YOUR healthcare beyond a reasonable safety net?

    • http://twitter.com/miscellanium Cody V.C.

      what’s a reasonable safety net? for that matter, where does whining/”begging for a handout” cross the line into “tragic”? seems to me pretty subjective, and indicative that the system needs to be based on different standards than “we won’t cover this because we just don’t want to/it’s not profitable enough”.

      • InsuredPerson

        if you went into a Ferrari dealership and they were charging more than you could afford for a car, would you demand they reduce their prices or that the govt subsidize a Ferrari for everyone earning under 50k a year? Or if there were more people looking to buy a Ferrari than there were cars for sale, so the price went up and now only people earning over 500k/year could afford a Ferrari, would you say that is unfair and the price needs to be regulated lower? How is this different than the healthcare example you give above?

        If you are healthy and able to work, but choose not to in order to attend college payed for by outrageously large loans, and are now complaining that you cant afford healthcare, you made your choice.
        If you earn minimum wage and have no reasonable expectation of increasing your earning power, and have 5 kids whom you cannot afford to insure, again this is a choice you have made with your life is it not? This one is more tragic than most, but it still illustrates the choices we make that put us in the situation we whine about.

        People should more often face the hard fact that there will be winners and losers in life and sometimes your own piss poor decision making skills and lack of planning will make you, even temporarily, a loser.

        • Guest

          The point is, having a Ferrari or not, won’t kill you. Lack of healthcare could actually kill you. Some countries and some people believe that access to decent, affordable healthcare should be a fundamental right. I’m all for taking responsibility for your choices in life, but often with healthcare issues, you don’t have that choice. We’re not talking about the unemployed with 5 kids (which I think is also a terrible life choice and should not be foisted on society) but a kid with leukemia, an adult with Crohn’s disease, a mother with MS, a dad with hemphillia. These are not choices that you make. They happen to you due to genetics, due to the very nature of your DNA, due to being alive! So my point here is that health needs are not often didcated by choice and that’s the part of life that a decent society looks after. They don’t throw the ill or the diseased to the wayside and call them losers. I don’t think that’s the American way.

    • G

      Because it’s called SOCIETY. You’re paying for them anyway with Medicare & Medicaid….the US has just built up a very complicated healthcare system. The real winners are the insurance companies, the diagnostic companies and the physicians.

      • InsuredPerson

        Oh yes those insurance companies and diagnostics firms, they should certainly be mandated to give away their products for free, and don’t get me started on those damn doctors, the nerve they have to charge for their services! Sarcasm clearly, I just wanted to make the point that there are millions of people who make decent money, have good insurance and don’t generally have serious issues with the system right now, except that it keeps getting more expensive of course.
        a complicated healthcare system? again, only if you’re trying to navigate the parts the gov’t is involved with, I pay my insurance, they pay for my care, simple as it gets..
        There will always be winners (I hope) in american society, if you’re really advocating for equal outcomes instead of equal opportunities move to Sweden or somewhere closer to the socialist style you’re dreaming about, this isn’t it, and not because the US is ‘broken’, because it’s not supposed to be equal for everyone.

        • Guest

          There are too many unnecessary diagnostic tests performed in the US. Who gets the money for these? The physician and the diagnostic lab. Having worked in the diagnostics industry for many years, I know for sure that they shouldn’t be free! Ridiculous. But having accessed healthcare in several different countries around the world, I am telling you that the US system is overly complicated and I am not surprised that it costs more (and this is with insurance, not govt). I disagree that there should be winners with healthcare: sometimes genes just deal you a bad hand and you have absolutely no say in how that happens. Should that condemn you to poorer healthcare because you’re not a genetic ‘winner’? Maybe it shouldn’t be equal for everyone but my point is that US healtchare is very expensive considering what it produces (38th in life expectancy globally. Behind Cuba).

        • Superfecta

          If your plan doesn’t cover each and every lab and lab tech doing (needed) diagnostic tests, it certainly becomes complicated – I spend hours and hours on the phone to my insurers, labs and doctors, attempting to get their many billing code screwups and overbilling sorted out. I never had a single problem with the NHS in the UK, but here in the US I pay many thousands of dollars out of pocket every year, and less and less is covered each time by my cheerful for-profit insurance company. And no, thanks to my pre-existing conditions, I can’t shop around for another one at present – if the company doesn’t offer coverage, I can’t get it. I’ll happily take the socialist model – I paid less in tax overall, and got much, much more in terms of services.

          • InsuredPerson

            Canada is closer, maybe try there?

          • Superfecta

            Unfortunately, most countries with good coverage aren’t easy to move to anymore (even if you’ve lived in one before) – we are seriously considering New Zealand for this reason, though.

      • Cat

        I work at a hospital and am close friends with several doctors. Be careful when you include them as part of the problem. They are paying back hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans, plus very high medical malpractice insurance coverage. For a new physician this equals about $2500 a month. So it sounds great to start at $7000 month salary, but take out taxes and personal health insurance at $1500 a month and suddenly she’s taking home $3000 a month to work a 50 hour base week plus overnight call twice a week. That isn’t exactly rich in an area where rent on a basic one bedroom apartment is $1500 a month.

        • Guest

          And it’s a self-fullfilling circle. Malpractice insurance is high, physicians are scared and they over-order diagnostic tests, which put up the price of healthcare etc etc. It won’t be long before that physician is earning a lot more….I didn’t earn that much when I started out: it’s the same for everyone. Regardless of the reasons, physicians play a part in high healthcare costs due to over-use of diagnostics and over-medication.

    • http://twitter.com/MiketheWannabe Mike

      My wife and I have worked in healthcare for years. When uninsured people come in, everybody else pays more. This has artificially inflated the price of healthcare to ridiculous levels. If everyone has coverage, healthcare costs will come back down. It benefits YOU to have a program for everyone to be able to buy affordable insurance. Keep the insurance you have if you like it – everyone else just needs a fair shot too.

      • InsuredPerson

        I have to take issue with this “everyone else just needs a fair shot too” in what way is it unfair currently? I have no college degree or wealthy family, nothing special about me at all really I bet I’m average in almost every way, and somehow I have made a life for myself that includes health insurance.

        • Guest

          Everyone should pay for their healthcare somehow (unless they are completely unable to work due to very severe long term conditions). My point is that providing healthcare through insurance is not a cost-effective process. I don’t know if the US will ever move to a more European style healthcare provision and that’s for citizens of the US to decide. BUT, involving insurance companies for healthcare provision is not smart unless everyone is forced to have it (which has so many difficulties too). You’ve also got to look at a public health approach: it’s not just about you! A society with poor health with not reap rewards in the long run.

    • daHob

      My appeal to your self-interest.
      First, you eventually pay for their healthcare anyway, but at a premium. Preventative care taht occurs when folks can afford to regularly go to the doctor is an order of magnitude cheaper than people showing up with serious conditions at the emergency room. Emergency care will not be denied and ultimately, we all end up paying for that if they can’t (and they can’t because if you can’t afford healthcare premiums in the thousands, you can’t afford medical bills in the tens of thousands).
      Second, healthcare is as important as defense to the survival of a civilization. You may have great medical care, but if the guy that makes your food or the cashier or your barber or the lunchlady at your kid’s school have crappy/no healthcare, you will still get sick. Maybe badly sick. Disease has killed /way/ more people than war.
      Universal healthcare is in your own est interest /even if/ you are already covered.

      • InsuredPerson

        Like I said, there must be a safety net, but at what point do you remove incentive for people to improve their own situation in life? Are you taking the first step toward “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his need” ?
        We should strive to do better and attain more, its what the American system is based on, equal opportunity for all to excel, by removing that you are eroding what once made this country greater than it currently is.

        • daHob

          In every country where there is socialized medicine, private insurance companies and private hospitals also exist. Even though they have universal coverage, the opportunity to have even better coverage, prompter coverage of non-critical services, more privacy or high-end elective procedures exists. There is more than enough room for both universal healthcare and to “strive to do better and attain more”. Also, just because we might choose to have a socialized system for healthcare does not mean that we have have socialized systems for everything. We are capable of being complex and applying the correct solution to the correct problmes.

          • InsuredPerson

            If there was a bill introduced to install this methodology here in the USA, I would probably support it. But if I am paying ever increasing taxes and choosing to buy the ‘good’ insurance, am I not paying for healthcare twice by subsiding the nationalized plan via taxation? I would probably still support this anyway

          • daHob

            (sorry for the double response, not dog-piling. My browser is acting funny and it looked like it ate my first response)
            It is possible to look at it that way. You would still have access to the same services as everyone else, you would just have more options (that’s generally how it works, many different systems in the world and we are talking hypothetically). You also gain benefit from everyone else being healthier too, though. Well people do not get you sick. Sick people reduce overall productivity and make things cost more.
            Also, speaking to the point of everyone having equal opportunity, parents who have access to doctors and who have a habit of going to doctors are more likely to take their kids to doctors. I hope you agree that kids should have access to medical care. Going through life saddled with a childhood disease because you had committed the crime of being born to poor parents does not make for a level playing field.

        • daHob

          First, it’s not an either/or situation. Every country that has universal socialized medicine /also/ has private insurance and private hospitals. If you want faster non-emergency service or top end elective procedures or a posher hospital suite you can still pay for it. The kind of jobs that get insurance in the US (professional salaried jobs) /also/ get private insurance in Europe.
          And second, is “making sure everyone has medicine so they don’t die and also make everyone else sick” really the line in sand in the fight on socialism?

    • http://twitter.com/opheliamlet Ω♁

      everyone pays for shit they don’t like; join the fucking club.

    • misspiggy

      1200-2400 deductible is affordable?! I pay a total of 1200 USD in income tax and ‘national insurance’ tax per month (25% of my gross salary). I don’t have to cover any other healthcare costs apart from eyeglasses and dental, plus 10 – 20 dollars per month for all prescriptions. (No matter how many prescriptions I need, I never have to pay more than 20 USD/month.) I have several local government-subsidised dental surgeries, who charge 25 USD for a consultation and around 100 USD for treatments like cavities. If I lose my job I get prescriptions, eyeglasses and dental without having to pay anything. I can get an appointment at my GP within a day or two. I never have to pay for contraception.

      I have a rare chronic condition that without treatment would have put me permanently out of work. Under the NHS I had to wait several months to see the global experts that I needed advice from, but in the meantime I got rapid access to medications, specialised physiotherapy and counselling to manage and improve my condition. This blog has made me realise that people in the US are being taken for an absolute ride on healthcare.

  • http://twitter.com/JanArrah Jason Smith

    First of all, the cost of healthcare in most countries where it is “Free” is not free at all. It’s paid as part of their taxes. I know people who live in these systems know this, but many of the people in the US do not understand or know that. My parents met numerous people when they went to Canada regularly who paid (because of taxes) vastly more than my parents did for the 3 of us to be insured.
    Second, I have worked numerous low pay, shitty jobs. I’ve worked hospitality, fast food, and retail. I’ve had insurance at most of my jobs and I have never paid more than 100 bucks a month (Pre-tax) for insurance. At my current low pay, shitty job, I’m currently paying 21 bucks a week (pre-tax) and I get medical, dental, vision, and life (I think it’s 20,000 or 30,000). I will admit this is by far the crappiest medical I’ve ever had for just doctors visit, but my prescription plan is ridiculously good (so it basically balances out, more for doc visits, but cheaper prescriptions. It’s normally the other way around). I’ve had numerous visits to the doctor every time I’ve had insurance (I get sinus infections regularly) and I’ve never had a problem paying my bill. I also did NOT have insurance when I sprained my ankle a few years ago. I went to the emergency room and because I paid promptly, they HALVED my bill because it was vastly cheaper for the hospital than doing it through insurance. It was amazing.
    Third, I find it hilarious that the same idiots in government who have CREATED this high priced insurance plans by forcing them to provide care for things they don’t need (Like me as a single gay male have to be covered for pregnancy?), making insurance be provided by the employer instead of direct market, and preventing competition between companies. If health insurance were provided with an ala carte variety like life insurance, car insurance, and rental/home owners insurance, then health insurance would be CHEAPER. The reason they don’t want you to do that is because they want to force us on a government system that limits our options and gives them control on what care you can get and how you get it.
    Uk: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2161869/Top-doctors-chilling-claim-The-NHS-kills-130-000-elderly-patients-year.html Denying care to the Elderly
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/aug/03/patients-sue-nhs-access-drugs NHS delaying patients from getting help
    Canada: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/peter-roff/2009/07/28/statistics-show-canada-healthcare-is-inferior-to-american-system Massive unacceptable wait times in Canada

    Fact: No system is perfect even if it is “Free” (which once again, it isn’t free.. it’s paid for by high taxes and it is unsustainable at least in most of Europe where they are having issues.. Germany, with it’s system, seems to be one of the few that isn’t having to go through drastic austerity movements just to keep running)

    • InsuredPerson

      Well written, I have lived within a few hours of Canada for over 10 years and I know how much more they pay in taxes (VAT anyone) free healthcare is not FREE.

    • Guest

      This is a very important point. Healthcare is not free ANYWHERE in the world. Most high income countries collect money for healthcare through taxation and have a simpler, free at point of care/treatment system. I don’t know what the answer is as clearly there are sustainability issues regarding systems like the NHS in the UK. But to correct a couple of your points which are a bit misguided:

      I pay more taxes (percentage wise) in the US than I did in the UK. There are fewer taxes in the UK than the US so whilst income tax may be higher, there’s no state tax, federal tax, medicare etc. Some Scandanavian countries have very high taxation rates, comparably, but I am not living in some low-tax haven in the US.

      By introducing a 3rd party into healthcare, the insurance companies, you are undoubtedly increasing the complexity of the administration of healthcare. That costs money.

      Americans are over-diagnosed and over-medicated. This costs someone money, somewhere.

      The life expetancy of an American is WAY lower than it should be. This is in spite of spending more than twice per head/per year on healthcare than most European countries. You’re paying too much for healthcare. It CAN be delivered more cheaply. The discussion is how this can be best achieved but I bet you it doesn’t involved insurance companies.

      I work in global health and have seen the toll it takes when there is no healthcare system in some of the world’s poorest countries. I agree that no system is perfect but what I don’t understand is that Americans are paying through the nose for healthcare which isn’t delivering a cost effective solution.

    • http://twitter.com/miscellanium Cody V.C.

      just pointing out that i identify as a single gay male and can get pregnant. so if i have that coverage, whether it’s for abortion or for some other kind of care, it would be very important for me. (i don’t know about my pregnancy coverage because i take great pains to be as safe as possible, but i know that for some people that’s not as easy.)

      • InsuredPerson

        If there are women who have chosen to ‘identify’ as gay men (this is a thing now?) the pregnancy coverage should be optional, there are undoubtedly millions to be saved by making it opt-in for this relatively small population instead of opt-out for the rest of the gay men who are not really women.

    • CatieCan

      This would be a valid point if the USA wasn’t already spending more per capita than Canada (where I am) or the UK (or almost every other OECD country) on healthcare. Your taxes are ALREADY paying for healthcare – $7000 per person per year according to a previous post – but because there is no coverage for preventative care all that money is spent on emergency care, which is more expensive and less effective. Yes, I pay for my healthcare and my neighbours’ healthcare, but overall as a country we pay a lot less and can feel safe in going to the doctor whenever necessary without worrying about bankruptcy.

      Personal story: I pay a total of $70 a year for the birth control pill. My appointments are free and the pill is subsidized. Sure, right now I pay more than that in tax, but eight months ago I was unemployed and that price didn’t change. Paying no tax, I still got healthcare.

    • Daisy

      @twitter-49576954:disqus I think perhaps an opinion piece from an American newspaper is not the best source of information about wait times for medical procedures in Canada, particularly when it’s based on data cherry picked and re-interpreted by the Republican Party from a report written by a hard-right Canadian think-tank. It’s hardly unbiased information.

      Please, use Google and check actual Canadian sources if you want information about wait times. They’re not as bad as all that, and most importantly we’re not shortening our wait times by kicking all of the poor people out of the queue.

      As for the “Free healthcare is not free! Zomigod Canadian taxes!” line that I see in a few comments… I’ll give you my personal example. I currently make $51,000 per year, almost $20,000 more per year than the average single (non-elderly) adult female Canadian. I pay $9389 in Federal and Provincial income tax. If I lived one mile south in New York state I would pay $9,173, a whopping $216 less. I consider that extra money to be completely worth the health care benefits I receive:

      I get timely (frequently same-day) access to my personal physician who has been treating me since highschool. If she is not available I can ask to see one of the other doctors at her clinic, I can go to a walk-in clinic, or I can go to the local emergency room. I can also consult a Registered Nurse 24/7 via a toll free phone number. I am not billed for any of this.

      As an adult I have been able to see a wide variety of medical specialists when the need arose: Allergists, Endocrinologists, Psychiatrists, Cardiologists, Neurologists, Sleep Specialists… I’m sure I’m leaving some out, I’ve had a rather colourful medical history. I spent the first 3 months of my life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Again, no bills.

      I suspect that were I American my family would have been bankrupted, I likely would not have seen doctors or specialists when I needed to, and rather than being a tax-paying contributing member of society right now I would be disabled or dead. So I say hell yeah! Bring on the taxes! I’d like to see my province provide (better) coverage for prescription medication, dental, and optometry too.

  • ME

    I have more nightmare stories about what happens when you
    are underinsured or uninsured in the US. Our system is fucked and every time we
    try to fix it some insurance company shill comes out and lobbies against it –
    like during this whole Obamacare debacle. People who actually read the proposed
    bill – like I did – know that the original prevented insurance companies from
    bankrupting sick people, prevented insurance companies from determining the
    value and cost of medical care and supplies, and prevented insurance companies
    from determining if you were worth treating – if your life was worth living.
    But time and again these right wingers came out and lied away, spreading
    misconceptions about death panels and Nazis. Seriously. Nazis.

    This was going on in 2008. In 2008 one of my oldest friends
    died of lymphoma. She died because a real life death panel – an insurance
    company adjustment panel – pulled her extremely limited coverage. They
    determined her too much of a risk and cut off what very little they were
    providing. Every time I tell this story
    people have the gall to argue with me that this doesn’t happen and it does. It
    happened to Crystal Lee Sutton the woman the film ‘Norma Rae’ was based on. It
    happened to my friend E.

    What makes the story that much worse is that while this was
    happening, the news, the media, the conservative media especially, was focused
    on ‘death panels’ in Obama’s health care plan. All the while actual death
    panels – insurance companies – are killing people to keep their profit margins

    E’s story doesn’t really end there. She had been employed as
    an EMT on an American naval base in. She was a Navy brat, and while she didn’t
    belong to the navy she was hired by the ambulance service the Navy outsourced
    to. That’s right. Our navy outsources its medical care. Her insurance plan was
    so basic it did not cover antibiotics. When she became ill she incurred so much
    debt she said that she liked to imagine that she kept a fleet of luxury
    vehicles in a private garage somewhere. People ask me if her insurance covered
    so little, what did it matter when they cut her off? Well, the hospitals
    stopped helping her when she no longer had insurance – because her debt was
    already so high and in this country your level of care can be determined by how
    much insurance you have, especially dependent upon where you live. In
    Massachusetts the hospital would not have been legally able to turn her away.
    In the Carolinas a hospital panel (that word again) determined that they were
    too underfunded and she wasn’t worth the expenditure.

    When she died the heaping debt transferred to her parents –
    a Naval officer and his wife who had three other kids still at home, home of
    course being the same Naval base E worked at. When the Navy heard of this they
    threatened her family with a discharge because it is illegal to be a member of
    the US armed forces and have any debt. So basically her family lost E, and were
    about to lose their income, the dad’s commission, the mother’s job on the base
    and their home.

    This is health care in America. We have the best services,
    doctors, cutting edge research and facilities, and none of us can afford it.
    Insurance companies are a third party and should not be determining your
    health, the quality of your heath and your care. What kind of society are we that
    we allow people to lose their homes and their lives because they get sick? And
    in the name of money?

    • http://twitter.com/sharpcontrast Michelle

      How can this happen? And how can people like Romney say it DOESN’T when it so clearly does? Breaks my heart

      • ME

        It happens all the time. And nobody wants to see. She died waiting for
        an appeal. Imagine appealing for your life? When it was happening it was
        surreal, and I would think ‘this can’t really happen, can it?’ but it
        can and it does and it did. These politicians who lobby for the
        insurance companies and fight legislation that can stop this all call
        themselves Christian and use that to get votes, and I think how
        Christian is it to watch someone suffer and die (she inevitably drowned
        in her own body) because they couldn’t pay? Who are these people to put a dollar value on someone else’s life? Because I can tell you personally that she was priceless, and this world is poorer without her.

      • :

        It doesn’t happen to people like Romney, that’s why. It’s not in their happy little bubble, or that of their friends. Their worldview is really that skewed.

    • Eilidh

      Damn that made me cry. So glad I live in the uk. The US needs to vote itself out from under the thrall of its insurance companies. That shit is WRONG.

      • Andrew Ragland

        We can’t vote ourselves out from under the insurance companies. They’ve bought our politicians and hold too much control of our government. People think that voting can change things. In the USA, money talks, voting walks.

        • http://twitter.com/evilforestgnome diana

          too true…

    • uncool

      I understand the point you are trying to make, but you dishonor Ellie’s memory by filling her story with lies.

      • annoyed

        uncool – you are no more than a pathetic internet troll with no life. Let’s see how uncool it is when a member of your family faces these choices? If you are in a country that has good healthcare, then I hope you fall through the cracks anyway. ME clearly will not stoop so low as to berate you, but I will. You are a twat.

        • seriously-not-a-troll

          You can call me a troll if you’d like, but I knew E, and I reacted emotionally when I saw her death portrayed that way. It was heartbreaking to lose her to lymphoma. I only spoke my piece because it was personal.

    • uncool

      I understand the point you are trying to make, but you dishonor Ellie’s memory by filling her story with lies.

      • ME

        It was never my intention to lie about my friend or to
        spread mistruths. This is the story I got from her while she was here and from
        friends and family after she passed. If this is wrong or I have been
        misinformed GOOD. This is not the fate I wanted for her or a fate I’d wish on
        anybody else. I would never intentionally do anything to dishonor any of my
        friends and I resent the accusation.

  • http://nhsvault.blogspot.com Richard Blogger

    I’m a writer and paid tax all my working life, last couple of years I’ve been unemployed due to ill health. I have a long term condition. I get all of my care and medications free at the point of use because I live in the UK and our healthcare is delivered through the NHS. Let me repeat. I have paid tax all of my working life and got the same healthcare then for my LTC, now I am unemployed I get the same life saving healthcare.

    Our NHS is under severe threat. Soon we will move to a voucher system (called personal health budgets) and I am afraid what will happen if my budget is not enough. We are also seeing the big healthcare companies (Care UK, Serco and Virgin – yes! Virgin) using bullying tactics to squeeze out NHS and non-for-profit providers.

    • theparsley

      I’m disabled, so I would fear for my life if I lived in the UK. Not just because a third of the disabled are slated to be declared un-disabled and ineligible for benefits, but the hate crimes would suck too.

      • DollyDimpleLdn

        It’s true that what this Tory government is doing to disability benefits is disgraceful, but that’s a separate issue from the NHS; any health care you need would still be free at the point of use (for now, anyway).

        As for hate crimes: no worse, as far as I’m aware, than in the US.

      • http://nhsvault.blogspot.com Richard Blogger

        In what way would you “fear for your life” in the UK? We have (until now) had good services for disabled people. There is hate crime in every country, why do you think the UK is any worse than anywhere else? (In fact, Americans I know say that the “hate crime” laws in the UK far exceed those anywhere in the US. We have “incitement” laws, which means that it is an offence to threaten violence.)

        Until our current government (who are the most right wing we have had in a generation, and who are destroying our public services) independent living for disabled people was government policy. The current government has slashed benefits payments for disabled people. They have also closed down Remploy – a company set up to offer employment for disabled people. As you say, the company with the contract to evaluate whether someone is eligible for benefits – ATOS – has a poor record, so bad that 32% of appeals against ATOS decisions have had the original; decision overturned. (Note this is not a third are “slated to be un-disabled”, it is a third of the decisions that have gone to appeal the decision has been overturned.)

        Life is undoubtedly worse for disabled people in the UK now, but “fear for their lives” – I think is pushing it too far.

  • http://twitter.com/Losile Amy Contreras

    I was covered by my dad’s plan (retired military) until I was 21. Irony of ironies, I was healthy as a horse for most of my childhood. Then as soon as I hit 21, I got mono, which led to a whole slew of things ravaging me while my immune system was shot. I was working minimum wage, trying to save to finally go to college. My job didn’t offer benefits and insurance would have cost me most of what I made a month. My parents helped, but they’re very religious and conservative too, so that summer when I got a slew of UTIs and then a condom broke (ha, the pill? Not likely, and the nearest planned parenthood was quite a ways from my boondocks hometown), I freaked out and had the bills sent to my workplace and cried over ‘em (my parents now know, and were guilt-ridden that I felt they’d not help me, always, but that’s a whole other story). I had no idea how to handle the pregnancy, that BF and I had already broken up and badly. One of my best friends at the mall actually went to people he knew would understand, and got some money together for me to go halves with my manager for the gas and go get an abortion (something I thought, much as I’m pro-choice, I myself would never do). I had a miscarriage the next day. I tried to give him the money back, but he shook his head and said “put it toward your hospital bills” (over 2,000 dollars for sitting in a waiting room and then peeing in a cup).

    I met my husband that fall, he’s in the Navy and was heading for Japan in March. We got married after knowing each other 3 months so I could go with him. And yes, everyone who saw us together knew we were destined, knew we were two-halves of one brain, all that mushy crap ;) And five years later we’re still nuts about each other. But our story is the exception that proves the rule. LOTS of people join/marry the military because of benefits and yes, it hastened our relationship. He took on my debt and I was able to get the pill for free and my health taken care of. Navy medical isn’t amazing, but it sure as hell beats NOTHING. And so many marriages are of convenience, you see it everywhere living on a base. It shouldn’t be that way.

  • SciHealthy

    I have insurance through my employer in the U.S. (scientist/engineer), but it’s a PPO and finding a doctor is a royal pain in the ass, otherwise they pay very little for out-of-network doctors. I’m lucky and grateful I have insurance, but it’s still a lot of work just to figure out if a doctor will take my insurance! Why can’t I go to the doctor I want? Greed, that’s why. And I’m not talking about super special platinum doctor care, just basic checkup requires a search and phone cals and more searching…such a waste of time. I have a son who sees a few specialist and we’re constantly fighting to get part of the treatments/visits paid.

    On a seperate note, I lived without insurance for several years after falling of my parents plan…luckily nothing serious happened and a few emergency visits were relatively minor thankfully. One visit the doctor saw I had no insurance and let me off with $25 and handed me a bag full sample antibiotics (severe sinus infection that made me feel and look like my head would literally explode). I never thought about it till now, but he really did an incredibly nice thing. Wish I could thank him personally now, but that was two decades ago…

  • Beth

    I already tweeted in my response, but I just wanted to add my personal story. I’m one of the lucky ones – I can’t remember any point in my life that I didn’t have access to healthcare when I needed it, and my company works hard to find reasonably affordable insurance options for us. Although I do have to say, one of my favorite things about this is that we are seeing how ‘employer subsidized’ really varies and how just because you have insurance doesn’t mean it’s good or cheap.

    But the story I really want to share is my sister’s. My sister is an artist and a teacher. She teaches at the collegiate level and has an MFA, which is the terminal degree in her field. She can’t find a full time job. She works at a minimum of two schools every semester, driving hundreds of miles every week, because full-time art placements are rare. She works hard, and she’s tried going outside of her field to get a full-time job to get benefits but nothing has worked out. She can’t go back to teaching public schools where she started out, because her degree means that her state-mandated salary would be too high.

    Add to this the low value that our elected officials seem to place on art & music in schools, and you can see why jobs are thin on the ground. She’s seen jobs that she’s gone for be given to people without any qualifications. It’s disheartening, but she keeps going somehow.

    So it broke my heart last month when she called me in tears, because she feels like she’s wasted her entire life and made all the wrong choices. Not because she has somehow stopped liking art, or because she doesn’t like teaching, or because she harbors a secret desire for another occupation.

    But because she doesn’t have insurance, and she never has. She’s in her mid-fifties and she’s never had one preventative screening. For anything.

    If she has a sinus infection, it generally costs her around $250. For us to talk her into going, she has to be so sick she can’t go on, or have been sick for literally months. I worry that she’s shortening her lifespan by not getting the treatments that so many take for granted.

    • Matt

      I invite your sister to the UK, where we also don’t value art in the public sphere, but we don’t live in fear of an early, painful or slow death. On the other hand, the weather sucks. France maybe?

  • sevesteen

    Interesting juxtaposition in posts–one about musician’s ‘freedom to choose’, followed by one that wants to force me to choose how to deal with health care, and to force me to pay for other people’s care.

    Our system is broken, but in large part because of lack of choice. Tax rules effectively limit most of us to whatever options our corporate employers chose for us. Our employers are limited to what is offered in our state, they can’t buy a more efficient policy from a neighboring state. Prescription-only drug laws make it difficult to comparison shop, and in some cases make some recreational drug use (think Rush Limbaugh) a covered medical expense.

    And instead of getting actual Universal Health Care, we are merely being forced to buy the products of the people who are largely responsible for this mess.

  • megan brophy

    god it’s expensive to stay alive

    • http://twitter.com/JWebbArt Jessica Webb


      • http://www.facebook.com/robert.j.archer.9 Robert J Archer

        The f’ckin’ die!
        — Sincerely The Republicans.
        PS. God loves you.

  • http://twitter.com/MiketheWannabe Mike

    I work for a major health benefits company that insures millions of people, including people on Medicare. I had their insurance – which is a high deductible plan – for years. This means that in addition to paying the roughly $450-ish/month for the insurance (family of 3), they don’t actually cover anything until you reach the deductible – about $3000. You can set up an HSA to make tax-free contributions that you can then use towards your deductible. That would be about another $250/month to cover the $3000. We couldn’t afford it, so we would contribute about $100/month to the HSA. My wife has had major medical problems over the last several years and we always exceeded our deductible in medical costs (surgeries are expensive – $14000/pop so we’re thankful for having the insurance). We paid as much as we could toward the deductibles but couldn’t keep up. We still have about $4000 in medical debt that’s added up over the last 5 years or so just from deductible payments we’re trying to catch up on. Now we’re on my wife’s health insurance – she works for a pharmacy in a major public university. Her HMO costs about $520/month, but all we pay are $10 copays for seeing the doctor – no deductible to worry about and no maximum lifetime benefit to worry about either.

    • mrsmoose

      Woah. So medical insurance in the US only pays out a limited amount over your lifetime? I can’t begin to get my head around that.

      • theparsley

        Individual insurers were formerly allowed to impose a lifetime cap on benefits they would provide. I think the vast majority of them did, but not all. Lifetime caps are banned now under one of the provisions of ACA (“Obamacare”) that has already taken effect (the law is being phased in over several years.)

    • lily_felix

      I looked into an HSA but decided against it when I found you could only set it up using certain banks- the same banks that have used despicable practices wrt mortgages in this area. No way are they getting a cent of mine.

  • Vickie

    A very dear friend of mine died “suddenly” last week (age 50).
    Except it turns out it wasn’t so sudden — he had been having chest pain and heavy breathing for over a week, but didn’t go to the doctor because he didn’t have insurance.
    He died of a heart attack.
    Had he gone to the doctor, he wouldn’t have died.

  • @Stryc_9

    I am insured because I’m under 25. That is the only reason. I have a lot if friends who do not meet those qualifications and cannot afford health care in the US. I want to share a story for people who think that getting stitched up in an emergency room is an option, it is not. A good friend of mine came to my house in the middle of the night. He was scared and uninsured. A few days earlier he had received a laceration on his bicep and had hoped it was not that deep and would heal on it’s own. He came to me after he started to lose feeling in his fingers. His cut was actually quite drop but he could not go to a hospital and was worried this would cause permanent damage. So, I said I would see what I could do. I pulled together a sewing needle, which I bent into a curve with pliers. I found unused fishing wire that I started soaking in rubbing alcohol. I was afraid to use pain killers due to the possibility of thinning his blood so we put a wallet in his mouth and decided to stitch him without any pain relief. I sterilized three needle and sewed up the wound. I watched the fix and kept it sterile giving him instructions to do the same. I removed the stitches a week and a half later. He was lucky, the wound healed leaving only a scare with no other damage.

  • Victoria Eden

    1) USA 2) Office worked at a blood bank 3) Yes 4) I pay about $50 out of pocket per month, employer covers the rest. If I added a dependent the cost would triple.

    While I have fairly good insurance (cost includes dental and vision) it’s not great. I have friends at work under the same plan who can’t go to the chiropractors anymore because they used up the allotted visits. The chiropractor they need because the chairs at work are so bad they mess up everyone’s backs. Our insurance covers 10 visits to a psychologist/therapist. If you have serious mental health problems, 10 visits isn’t enough. The golden number seems to be 80%. I just got new glasses and they covered 80%, if I’m in the hospital they will cover 80%. It sounds like enough right now, but I’m worried that if I ever have a serious illness – or even if I need to go to the emergency room – it won’t be enough.

    I am not happy at my job but if I leave I lose my coverage. I can’t take that risk. My biggest fear is preexisting conditions.

    • Victoria Eden

      I forgot the best part – my insurance doesn’t cover name brand medications. So when I was on the NuvaRing it cost $60 a month but they wouldn’t cover it even though there is no generic versions available.

  • anne

    we live in the US, and my family of 5 get health insurance through my hubby’s work. it’s $218/month, not sure the % covered by his job. the dental is great, the vision sucks, and the health is ok. but it’s $20 for every office visit, $100 for the er, and a $5000 deductible for everything else. also, the copays for meds are really bad. so bad, in fact, that even with his insurance, my youngest son’s meds would cost us almost $200/month out of pocket, plus there’s copays for the specialist visits and non-covered tests. sad as it is, i’m actually thankful hubby doesn’t make much, so we can get state assistance to cover what hubby’s insurance doesn’t for my youngest son.

    also i want to add to the discussion that, though i’ve always had insurance, about six years ago i filed for bankruptcy, which included $30,000 in medical bills i couldn’t afford to pay from my younger days. and a different point, my sister had to hold down two full time jobs for three months b/c she was switching jobs and couldn’t afford to COBRA her benefits, and she has pre-existing conditions that, if she let her coverage lapse, she would have been denied for new coverage. our health care system is so broken :(

  • saryu

    In Australia, if you want to see a doctor, it’s free. That’s right, $0. If you need to go to hospital…0$. If you need prescription medication, it is heavily subsidised once you hit a certain limit (not sure what the limit is, but my mum has significant health problems and reaches it about March each year).
    All of this is paid for with a 1% tax.
    It completely boggles my mind that a developed country like the USA is even having this discussion.

    • Miss_dot

      I agree. I can’t understand it. I don’t get the whole ‘looking out for me and mine’ US mentality. Ive been treated for innumerable minor & moderate health problems and never paid a cent except for psychiatry, which was refunded 85% to me at a later date. (Not dental though, I really wish dental was added to medicare. I’d pay a higher tax rate for that- it would be more than worth it.)

      • http://twitter.com/that_music Alex Cooper

        Basic dental care gets added if you’re on a health care card with centrelink (social security payments for those of you outside aus) – you can go to a dental hospital and pay about $25/visit

    • matthew james

      it’s not free unless you’re on a low income or have concession cards or the practitioner decides to bulk bill you… my previous doctor i paid up to 65 dollars out of pocket and that’s not abnormal

  • http://twitter.com/Luvagoo Tallulah Alice Mae

    In Australia our national free healthcare is called Medicare; but it’s not uncommon for people to have private health insurance.

    Everyone pays a 3% “Medicare levy” which comes out of your income on top of your income tax. There are complicated things I don’t understand with private; I’m not sure if you don’t pay the levy with private or it’s reduced or whatever, but it’s a pretty simple efficient system and hey, you can get sick and worry about your health and not the money.

  • Chkn

    In BC Canada you pay a small monthly Medical Service Plan fee of $60-70 (or nothing if you have a low income or are a student etc). That covers basic medical costs like ER, hospital, doctors appointments etc. If you are in a lower income class there is also a program called FairPharmaCare which will supplement our already subsidized prescriptions (with some exceptions for new drugs but you can apply to have yours covered). Most companies will cover your MSP payments and offer an extended medical package that covers dental, optometry, massage, chiro, PT etc with a co-pay system and will usually pay for all (or almost all) prescription costs for about 90 a month. My husband’s work also provides extended insurance for the same amount. I go to the doctor for counseling on an as needed basis. Could be once a week, could be once every two months. Costs me nothing. And neither do my $200/month drugs.

  • http://twitter.com/astarynight Crystal Michelle

    Let’s face the facts, everyone. Some of the biggest problems with our health care systems are the loopholes in the Government’s rules and regulations. ask anyone receiving insurance from any one of the 2,000 plus insurers, and most of them will complain about the complexity of our system. there are so many different forms circling around medical facilities for patients it makes one’s headspin. we are the only nation like this. the endless number of forms are time consuming for health care providers and they are too expensive for health care consumers. my word, people! they are exhausting for anyone who has ever attempted to sit down at a table and go through them and figure them out. that is to say, the medical care industry is literally drowning in paperwork. the health care system needs to be reinvented along with reinventing Government. a physician should not have to check with some bureaucrat in an office building thousands of miles away before ordering a simple blood work-up. that is just not right! where is the humanity?! doctors, nurses, and consumers (i.e. patients) should not have to worry about the fine print. freeing the health care providers from these costly and unnecessary paperwork and administrative decisions would save who knows how much money.

  • Rachel

    Last year I was working and had employer sponsored healthcare that was about $400 a month for family of 3. I became pregnant and while at work was attacked by a client. I wanted to quit but had to stay until 2 months before due date because pregnancy is a pre-existing condition for the mother and father, so my husband and I were denied private insurance. Eventually I had to decide that my baby was more important than money and we ended up paying $1300 a month for COBRA until after the baby was born and then we could qualified for private insurance

  • Danielle Scanlon

    I’m 22 and am currently under my fathers health/dental/vision insurance. My employer just took away what little benefits was offered to us at the beginning of this year. My fiance who hasn’t seen a dentist or doctor in over 10 years has no means of insurance. He has never voted before. And through my awareness and dialogue with him he is voting this election for the first time ever. He’s seen my er bills when i wasn’t insured. He knows I married at 18 for insurance coverage when i left my parents (I honestly was so ignorant about all this healthcare stuff i dont even know if i couldve stayed under my parents or not at that time). These discussions have majorly impacted my life and fueled my outrage with the system as it is. And now I even have someone who was completely an pathetic citizen voting for the first time. Thank you so much. What you’re doing is beautiful and very very important.

    • Danielle Scanlon

      *apathetic not pathetic lol oops

  • http://allhaileris.com/ LilithSativa

    I am 42, and my husband is 59. Currently I am the bread winner in our household, by working full time, have a second part time job, going to school full time and taking as much as we could in student loans to keep us afloat. About 4years ago he was diagnosed with severe bronchitis. It never got better, and the diagnosis was updated to C.O.P.D., with a specific diagnosis of severe emphysema. This caused him to lose his job,as well as his insurance. I immediately went back to work, but he now had a pre-existing condition, and our rates for ins. went radically high.
    About a year after the first diagnosis, we learned my hubby also suffers from chronic migratory rheumatoid arthritis. The medicine for this painful, painful condition is contraindicated by the meds for his COPD- so take meds to help breathe, or take meds to be out of pain, and able to use limbs, etc.
    I lost my job with ins, and now have a job that barely pays me enough to keep our heads above water, but not enough to afford ins. He gets his breathing meds by participating in a drug study, and when it runs out we have no clue what the hell we are gonna do. As far as the arthritis? He eats Tylenol, etc like they are candy, and if everything else doesn’t kill him – it may be the damage he is doing to his liver to stay out of pain.
    We live paycheck to paycheck, and I am terrified that something could happen to me.
    IF I get sick, and lose my job- we will be homeless in a matter of weeks.

  • Martin Pilkington

    I’m always shocked about health care in the US. Not just the state of it, but the attitudes of many towards it. I’m from the UK, so am covered by the NHS. It’s by no means perfect, but it does a better job for a LOT less money than the US.

    I was diagnosed with cancer just over 2 years ago. I was a year out of university and was trying to make my way as a self employed software developer. I didn’t really have much in the way or savings or income at the time. Thankfully, I went to see my GP, who referred me to a consultant, who diagnosed me and got me booked in for surgery, which removed the tumour, at which point I was passed on to oncology for checkups. Over the course of the diagnosis and treatment I had 3 GP visits, 4 visits to the consultant, about 18 oncology visits, the surgery, maybe 20-25 blood tests, about 7 CT scans, 10 chest X rays. All I’ve had to pay up front was the cost of travel.

    Now of course, I’ll have to pay that back in taxes. 20-40% income tax, 20% VAT, national insurance, plus other taxes, but it is worth it. Health care is not a privilege but a right. Paying for it as a percentage of your income is much fairer than paying for what you need, especially as those who need healthcare are often those not in a position to pay.

    Some say it’s not sustainable, but a well managed public healthcare option can be more sustainable than private healthcare. It is often big enough to negotiate better prices of medicine, it can reduce duplication and it can provide more preventative measures (e.g. the NHS provides a LOT of free support for those wanting to give up smoking), which are often an order of magnitude cheaper than treatment.

    The other thing to consider is the economic benefits. Those who are ill are an economic drain, so helping them recover more quickly, without the stress of having to afford it, means they can get back to work quicker and start spending their money on other stuff more quickly, helping the economy. It also removes one of the biggest worries about starting a business. I had no worries about starting a business where it took a while to earn a decent living, because I knew the NHS would support me if I got ill. It makes it easier for people to go out there and create jobs for themselves, rather than taking up jobs elsewhere.

    • http://twitter.com/evilforestgnome diana

      I’d pay for that and more in taxes. I think part of the problem is American taxes do not go for social services, they go toward the military industrial complex. Why pay more when social services disappear year after year.

  • christal

    I tweeted yesterday about my daughter who will turn 24 in December. This past week, she lost a friend to cancer. Her friend was 23 & hadn’t been feeling well for some time. The problem is that he didn’t have any health benefits, so he waited to go see the doctor. He went a few weeks ago where he was diagnosed and now, he’s dead at the way too young age of 23.

    My daughter is bi-polar and I am terrified to think of what will happen if Romney is elected & they are successful in overturning the Affordable Care Act. She had a plan to commit suicide at the age of 14 and actually attempted at the age of 19. My daughter is one of the most caring, creative & wonderful people I know. She also has not been successful in holding down a job or going to school – something that is quite common with people with her diagnosis. She’s tried, but finding the right combo of meds is a job in & of itself.

    We need real health-care reform in the US. The ACA is a good start, but we need to do something more. In two years, my daughter will be off of my health insurance. This is very real & very scary to me.

  • Kevin Donovan

    Great initiative. I guess you have all read (no? Well you must!) ‘So Much For That’ by Lionel Shriver about the horrors of your US medical care insurance system. I’m in the UK where our precious National Health Service is being dismantled (ie sold to any passing chancer, many of whom are paying large amounts to the Tory party – which is like the GOP but with lardee-da accents). Good luck to all of us! United we stand!

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.hodsdon.3 Michael Hodsdon

    I have been dealing with back issues and have barely been able to walk for the last 5 months. I’m a graphic artist for a small promotional advertising company that doesn’t match premium costs. I tried to get on a sliding-scale program but was denied due to my income. I certainly cannot afford another $500-$600 monthly bill. I have been paying cash for Dr. appointments, prescriptions etc. Several thousand dollars in the last 3 months. I can afford the MRI they’re recommending ($1200.00) however I cannot afford any necesary treatment after that.

  • http://twitter.com/astarynight Crystal Michelle

    Historically speaking, the kind of sacrifice and social obligation it would take for change to be brought about can be compared to the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, which occurred after the Second World War. Hopefully, as new generations of Americans are thinking more about themselves and their families, and “talking over the back fence” with their neighbors, americans will develop more of a sense of community. perhaps then, our newly reconfigured community will lead to a stronger sense of a social contract based on what a just and compassionate society could and should be like, thus opening the door to a better healthcare system. We the people of the United States, need to come together and put our words into action.

  • http://twitter.com/sideknit Emily

    6 yrs ago my sister was in her second month of a new job teaching elementary music in Atlanta public schools. She had felt ill for a couple weeks, but was nervous to go to a doctor because she didn’t know when her insurance kicked in. Family (me included) urged her to visit local clinic.

    Short story is if she hadn’t visited that clinic, she might have died from Leukemia.

    Being unsure of her insurance status she nearly didn’t go. I thank God she went as she ended up getting stellar care – and is here with us today. She was lucky enough to still be covered under our parents’ health insurance. Not everyone is.

    I personally spent many years without ins as i was too old to be covered by my folks and was in school/insignificant PT jobs. Now I’m covered thanks to my husband’s job. I wouldn’t likely be able to get it otherwise due to my history of debilitating migraines (and other med issues).

    Praying for national health care – and smart votes in November.

  • Kate

    Hi! I may be very naive, but it seems to me that the folk who benefit from the American system are the insurance companies. How is it that such a great nation don’t see the stupidity of that, and do something about it? I grew up in the UK and will be the first to admit that the NHS has huge problems. We all have to “pay” for health care, but wouldn’t it be better to set up a system where the funds paid in help those who need it rather than the insurance companies shareholders? I live in the USA now and am baffled by the madness of it all!

    • Andrew

      Two reasons: 1, because the insurance companies have all that money, and are therefore able to pump lots of cash into the political system to ensure their wishes are respected; and 2, because the insurance companies, with the aid of the Republican Party, have spent nearly 80 years persuading many Americans that nationalized health care is evil: that it is the first step toward Communism (and/or Nazism) and that it must not be allowed.

      • misspiggy

        These are indeed powerful reasons. But when people’s lived experience is so terrible, why do they continue to put up with it? The stories on this page have been horrifying – I had no idea that insurance in the US was so expensive and covered so little. Why aren’t people protesting on the streets?

        • http://twitter.com/ladonnapietra la.donna.pietra

          Protesting in the streets won’t be all that effective. Voting for Obama will be.

          • Guest

            and it’s hard to protest in the street when you are too busy running yourself ragged working 40 hours a week to barely scrape by on what you make to provide for your family.

        • http://twitter.com/JWebbArt Jessica Webb

          and it’s hard to protest in the street when you are too busy running yourself ragged working 40 hours a week to barely scrape by on what you make to provide for your family (in my case this includes my husband and 3 year old son who stay at home while I work because we cannot afford daycare).

        • ME

          People are protesting on the streets. Every day.

  • http://twitter.com/Mattguitarman Matthew Lister

    I chose to be a musician because it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do ever since I got my first guitar as a 12th birthday present. In my late teens/early 20’s I was young and idealistic and I went to college for music knowing full well that things wouldn’t be easy for me after graduation. I quickly got real after graduation and got a government job entering visa petitions into a government database. The job had great pay and and full benefits—then disaster struck. I got carpal tunnel syndrome from trying to meet or exceed the high quota they had. I talked to several doctors and I had a decision to make: I could keep working for this job that was killing my hands or I could pursue my passion. I chose the latter. It has not been easy. I scrape and claw for every bit of work I can get and I am worried every month that my bills will go unpaid. I have spent the last 10 years of my life living like this and I realize now that there is no turning back. This is my career and I love it, even if it may kill me. I had kidney stones 2 years ago (a condition that runs in the family apparently) and I did not know what was wrong with me—I thought I was going to die. I went to the ER twice. The hospital I went to fortunately had a program for low income patients and my bills were paid for by that program. I realized then that I had made decisions in my life that have terrible consequences. At the end of the day, though, I would rather do what I love and have it kill me than live comfortably and do something that I hate for the rest of my life. Recently it’s gotten harder because I got married and my wife and I want to start a family. We’re still struggling to make ends meet but I know in my heart that I made the right decision and I will take that to my grave if necessary. I know to a lot of people probably think I am scum—someone who leeches off of the system and expects some sort of handout—but I work 6-7 days a week busking, gigging, teaching… I work hard and I wish that there was some sort of union/guild/program that could help self-employed professionals such as myself.

  • Chirp

    My husband and I got married so I could get onto his health insurance, for a desperately-needed hysterectomy. I’m 30 years old. He was paying $700 a month for COBRA at the time, and adding me bumped it up to $1400/month. But that’s cheaper than the thousands of dollars I would have paid under my $150/month crappy insurance with huge deductibles and next to nothing covered.

    I’m now working full-time, and he’s on MY insurance, and we pay about $400/month for decent coverage.

    We’d been thinking about marriage for some time, but being curled around a heating pad for 8 days a month, sobbing in pain and needing a costly medical procedure I couldn’t otherwise afford, meant that the timeline needed to be moved up ASAP. My dreams of a romantic proposal were pretty much shattered: “well, let’s just get married so you can get medical care” isn’t the sexiest thing ever. Turned out OK though, we’re happy!

  • Kelly

    My husband and I both worked full time and had no insurance for ourselves, but had our daughter covered through public aid for $15 a month. When he noticed an odd swelling/spot on his tounge in 2005, our only option was a pay scale clinic to have it checked out. The waiting list was nearly a month. He waited his time, was seen for a few moments and was quickly diagnosed with an infection and prescribed an antibiotic. He ran the course of antibiotics and there was no improvement, so he made another appointment with the clinic, which was about another month long wait. In the meantime his tongue became pretty frightening and I made him go to the emergency room. They informed us that the spot on his tongue was actually oral cancer. We made all of the necessary appointments, which was quite difficult being uninsured, and were notified that being “cash” patients, we would have to pay for services prior to receiving. We gathered what money we could by selling things and getting help from family. We paid for the scan of his head which showed an extremely small cell on the tongue. The doctor was pretty optimistic in the treatment and recovery. He endured 6 weeks of radiation and could not work. In that time we were able to get him enrolled in public aid and get a medical card. After the radiation, things were looking up until a lump was noticed on his neck. Suddenly now that we had insurance, there were so many tests available to us. They performed numerous tests and revealed that not only did he have oral cancer, but it had spread from his lungs which was now at stage 4. Within 2 months the cancer spread throughout his entire body including his brain. He died 6 months after being first diagnosed with a very small, curable, oral cancer. I get SOOOOO angry thinking that from day 1, if we had insurance, the doctors would have ran all possible tests from the get go instead of waiting for us to raise the funds for a small scan on the concentrated area. I think of all the wasted time spent in line at clinics only to be passed off like we didn’t matter. I became a widow at 26 and my daughter is growing up without her father all because of one simple card we didn’t have in our wallets.

    • http://twitter.com/fauxt0graph momburntdinner

      This is simply heartbreaking. I am so very sorry.

    • aikanae

      I am so sorry for your loss. I had a small skin cancer and had Medicaid at the time. I still had a couple of months wait (authorization, refferal, getting appointment). The doctor who treated it didn’t screen it for an invasive type, which is what it was. Medicaid didn’t have a specialist in network and so they were not going to diagnosis it. I would have died within a year if a friend of mine, who was a PA, didn’t raise alarm bells. I went out of network and got lucky getting treatment in a non-profit regional cancer center. They had third party billing which was ruthless. I still feel lucky that I ignored the treating Medicaid doctor and it was caught before going systemic. When I tried to go after Medicaid, I ended up getting no care – not even for asthma. I was told they didn’t need medical records (mine had disappeared). There is no such thing as a Medicaid lawyer. Just try doing appeals while ill or in the hospital. I was sad Obama wants to expand the role of Medicaid. Why have different systems of care? Are some people born that unequal to another? That logic is offensive. I suggest all those in congress against Obamacare to drop their federal taxpayer supported health insurance and then they might have something worth saying. Most can afford healthcare out of pocket anyway.

  • DSC

    As you are saying, EVERYONE has a story! I’m a lucky one, the small pharma company I work for gives me insurance free and covers my family, but that’s precisely why I committed the biggest mistake in my life (first marriage was specifically so my then-boyfriend could get my insurance – followed by painful and costly divorce once it was clear what a mistake it was).
    That aside, I’m lucky to get coverage for my (now)husband: after an accident 10+years ago, he’s broken in more places than you can count, and as an artist/craftsman/musician, on-and-off unemployed, hasn’t had insurance since. I think the only reason they didn’t deny us as “preexisting conditions” is that he’s gone to doctors so little that a record of him no longer existed in the healthcare system. Now I’m trying to put him back together enough that he can be there for our kids for a few decades…
    And for yet a third story, my brother, who’s 25, hasn’t been covered on either of my parents’ insurance plans (for which they both pay hundreds a month despite employer “discounts”) since the onset of his mental disorder ten years ago. They have to purchase separate health insurance for him at exhorbitant prices (something like $2500/month last I checked), plus pay out-of-pocket for an endless stream of medications.
    All this in one family, and I do have to ask myself, we immigrated here from a country with free (albeit at this point, extremely corrupt and ineffective) health care – are we really better off? Will we be for much longer?

  • Aibaka

    1) USA 2) Part-time retailer/student 3) No. 4) No longer eligible to be covered by my mothers insurance at work as I am not enrolled in college full-time (I’m in school part-time because I have to work to afford to pay as I go). Too expensive to get it on my own plus I have pre-existing conditions: asthma, EXTENSIVE allergies, eczema, Attention Defecit Disorder, history of depression, torn ligaments in both ankles that never healed properly etc. Constantly worried that something will happen to me and my family will go bankrupt trying to pay for my treatment. Still paying off the trip to urgent care when I got violently ill last year. Constantly refusing to go to the doctor when normally I would. The custom shoes my former podiatrist had made for me have completely worn through and my toes come out of the fabric but I still wear them everyday at work because out-of-pocket cost to replace those shoes would be over $1300.
    My naturopathic doctor visits are not even eligible to be covered by any sort of insurance and cost anywhere from $200-$500 per visit depending on treatment received. I have only gone in once this year.

  • Terry Irwin

    As a UK surgeon, I find the healthcare system in the US bewildering. I recently spent two weeks visiting colleagues in the US, none of whom were quite sure where they stood, largely because they were anxious about Obamacare. Most felt it was a good thing…probably!

    The US clearly has the best and the worst healthcare in the world. Overall, it ranks 37th in the WHO rankings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Health_Organization_ranking_of_health_systems) despite spending more than any other nation. If we spent the equivalent in the UK ….well who knows.

    When the NHS was introduced to the UK in 1948, doctors were initially opposed (though curiously not surgeons). Now the vast majority of doctors are strong advocates for the NHS. The fact that I can make decisions based purely on clinical need is vital to me. If I need a PET/CT or an MR scan, I get it. Yes, some very expensive drugs are not available, but this impacts only a tiny fraction of patients. Yes there are waiting lists – pretty short ones now. There is no perfect system, but this one’s bloody good.

    I currently have many patients admitted under my care who would have no access to even meagre healthcare in the US. Previous illnesses do not prevent future care, indeed they speed access to the appropriate service. Many patients phone me for advice on a daily basis, that is part of the service. Every patient in the hospital is seen every day by a consultant (an attending) from the team.

    However, don’t believe me. Listen to what an American said about his experiences with us: http://www.gregdobbs.net/blog/

    • Robyn

      So much this. I am a junior doctor in the UK and I and everyone I work with treat anyone who comes through the door, do any test, give any treatment they need and I don’t know or care what any of it costs because caring about that is not my job. Yes, at some point someone has to care what it all costs but for each individual patient, it makes not a drop of difference. I have seen people in ICU beds that cost more for a week than they make in a year and when they get better they walk out with no more debt than they came in with. It is incredibly useful knowing that what we do, we do because it is right for the patient, not because of what it costs, and for that reason I will never work for anyone but the NHS unless the Tories finally manage to dismantle it and that option no longer exists.

  • Deb

    Freelance educator looking for a job. Had COBRA and thanks to the Obama subsidy, my insurance was about $126/month. That ran out last year. Tried to get individual insurance but was rejected for various petty reasons including, get this, COLD SORES. Yes cold sores, you know the ones that everyone gets. Bastards. I basically need a $9 generic thyroid prescription each month, which is under most copays, but that sends major red flags up with insurance companies and makes me practically uninsurable. It would be better to have cancer than a chronic condition because in the eyes of the insurance company, it’s cheaper to treat. Even though the treatments are expensive, cancer is often short term and fatal. Thus it is cheaper than a treatable chronic condition which can last for decades and rack up the bills or lead to more expensive problems. The Obama plans pre-existing condition plans are about $200/month for my age group in my state, which isn’t bad but you have to be without insurance for 6 months in order to get them. This means when your COBRA runs out, you will still have a gap in coverage. It’s a no-win situation.

  • http://twitter.com/frankie_felony Frankie Felony

    I’ve always lived in the US, and I am uninsured as an adult. I, luckily, have been a fairly healthy person thus far, but that could change at any time. I cannot afford insurance; I can barely afford to pay my bills, and that’s with my flatmates being fucking amazing human beings and not making me pay my full share because I don’t make a living wage. However, I still make too much to be eligible for Medicaid.

    What I also find shameful is that while at work at the beginning of last year, I got hurt (neck/shoulder), and my employer denied my worker’s comp claim. I had to pay for everything out-of-pocket; it added up to somewhere around $7500. I’m still paying for it, and I still have a lot of trouble with that shoulder and arm (pain, don’t have full range of motion, &c.) but there’s nothing I can do about it. I still don’t know why my claim was denied; I doubt I ever will.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patricia.l.donaldson Patricia Langley Donaldson

    I have worked in the insurance industry all my life. I am the person who pays or denies your insurance claims ” if ” you have insurance. I have also had insurance most of my life, so I see two sides.
    One thing that sets the US apart from other countries is the free market. Insurance companies are a business–if it weren’t profitable–there would be no insurance company to help pay the cost of medicine. Most Americans are used to a level of care. I remember the first claim I paid for a Canadian women whose government insurance put her on a waiting list for a CT scan —first available appointment? Six months. She was a student in the US and her student insurance policy allowed her to get a CT scan in the US the next day. The US insurance company covered 80%.
    If we have a government plan here–remember that the government will decide what amount the doctors, facilities, hospitals etc will get paid. It was many years ago, but that CT place in the US was paid $1.86 by the Canadian insurance plan–not because it is what she owed, but because that was the scale for a CT scan.
    Now I am retired and I am a huge fan of Amanda F. Palmer at age 58. I was given disability and I have Medicare. It was sooo difficult to find a doctor, any doctor who will accept a Medicare patient because they are reimbursed so little. Reimburesments will go down under Obamacare. Who will go to medical school for all those years if you will make $30,000 a year as a doctor? Who will develop new treatments if you can’t even make your money back for research?
    What should a doctor be paid? Do you want a government panel to decide? Which treatments or drugs should you receive? Should some things be decided by your prognosis? By your age? If you have severe health problems and you are 57–should you be offered the same treatment as a 27 year old healthy person? I really believe it will come to that if we have a government plan. What does the government do better than private enterprise? Anything?

    • http://twitter.com/ladonnapietra la.donna.pietra

      As an American with insurance, I’ve had to schedule Pap smears as much as a year in advance, because that was what my doctor had available: appointments a year out. No other doctor in the area was taking new patients, so it wasn’t an issue of switching providers. An appointment six months in the future would be a dramatic improvement.

    • DollyDimpleLdn

      Doctors in the UK make substantially more than that, depending on experience: http://www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/explore-by-career/doctors/pay-for-doctors/

      And it’s not government panels who decide what treatment you receive from the NHS; it’s (surprise!) doctors and their patients. You may believe that it might come to ‘death panels’ if the US ever has a government plan, but that doesn’t make it so.

    • Robyn

      I want the treatments and drugs which are available to be decided based on evidence and benefits, by people who look at those and are not earning money based on the decisions they make, not by corporations with no interest in my or anyone else’s health, but only in money.

  • Annienonymous

    Friend’s Dad in Texas had a stroke. He worked all his life, owned his own home, had insurance. But the stroke was severe, insurance money soon ran out: his house will have to be sold. If he ever recovers enough to go home, he won’t have a home to go to. Can’t describe the injustice of that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vbickford Vicki Lingle Bickford

    I live in the pacific northwest in the US. I had Medicaid because I couldn’t work with disabilities, had to quit my job. Then I got breast cancer, got great treatment including surgery and chemo (okay, that part wasn’t great). Then my application for medical disability status was approved and I started receiving an income last March. Because I now had an income too high for Medicaid levels, I lost my insurance one-third of the way through treatment for the breast cancer.

    God, that was insane.

    Anyway, thank the social worker, Toniya, who came to me and told me not to worry, there are things we can do. So I kept going to treatments and recovering, as she asked me to do. All doctors had me sign statements that I would be responsible for any costs, and Toniya worked with me to get paperwork filled out and processed so that Medicaid could put me on what’s called a spend down. During chemo it’s hard to get out of bed, much less get the strength up to fight for yourself. Without Toniya I would have just…let go.

    As it is, I got the spend down, I’m covered by Medicaid again, but only through the end of this year. Meanwhile, I have $10,000 in medical bills to pay off. Which, by the way, was the cost of only one of the chemo treatments. Talk about a broken medical system!

    Now I’m trying to figure out how to live with an incredible amount of pain from the original source of my medical disability which is, yes, arthritis. And degenerative disk disease. I can’t sit for long, I can’t stand at all, and the pain is now constant and physically and emotionally debilitating. I have no idea what I’m going to do when Medicaid cuts me out again. I’m worried for my sons, who are gathered around to look after me, because I know they’re not at all prepared for what’s to come.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1566437544 Lura Miller

    I grew up in Foster Care in Washington state. I had basic healthcare coverage for most of my childhood until I left the system at 18. From then on, I had no healthcare until I acquired a job that provided it, and that cost me because by that point in time I had 2 children. I was able to get prenatal care for my pregnancies and my children from the system while I was going to school and working. (Thank you TAXPAYERS!) Now I am a taxpayer, I work full time and I have a paycheck and benefits (that I pay for with my employer) to support my kids. I don’t take that for granted, but I get upset that other governments and countries can figure out how to provide free or low cost care to all their citizens and other family friendly benefits. It’s confusing. I don’t think our country is any more “diverse” than England or France or Germany. So I’m not very keen on the “homogeneous” argument at all. I don’t think it is OK for insurance companies to make a profit year after year and raise rates year after year while offering less and less benefits year after year. Some may call that “business” but I really don’t think it belongs in HEALTHCARE.
    Thanks for this forum. It’s so helpful and wonderful and amazing that we have this platform. THANK YOU!

  • Rachel

    Hmmm AFP as the next Doctor, I can dig it. (This comment is totally related to this post about health care.)

  • Marence

    My sad-but-common story is too long for twitter, even after 30 min of editing, so I’ll tel it here.

    Most of my adult life I had insurance, either employer provided or secured myself while freelancing. Then I got too disabled to work, but not enough to get disability. I’m married to a musician/editor/producer who has no insurance and supports us. I’m eligible for “pre-existing condition” insurance here in Ohio, but the amount is about what we pay in rent and utilities, and no one has offered to double our income so we can afford insurance. I’m not sure what we’ll do once we are required to have insurance – make a decision between housing and health care?

    Luckily, we qualify for reduced-cost care at a local health care center, so for $25-$40 we can visit a doctor when needed.

    Another fun anecdote – I had insurance when I was first diagnosed with my conditions. The doctor sent me for an MRI, which was pre-approved by the insurance, but rejected afterward because of a paperwork error, made by the doctor’s office, and corrected too late to have the insurance approve it. 4 years later, collection agencies are still expecting me to pay $3,000 for a test I didn’t ask for and was told was covered. Yay insurance!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Becca-BiBi-Sklar/1679002662 Becca BiBi Sklar

    1) USA 2) Part time employee at Walgreens 3) I’m on my parents insurance 4) My parents pay $1300 a month for our health insurance. I’m 21, I work pretty much 1 day a week cause my body can’t take much more than that. I suffer from chronic pain due to stomach problems. I have gastroparesis and need a specialist to help me, but I haven’t been able to go cause of our insurance. I also suffer from back and joint pain. This has been steadily getting worse for years. I had to stop going to school because there is no point in paying if I know I wont be able to go most of the time. If it wasn’t for my teachers at my technical college for criminal justice (I went right after high school) I would have gotten kicked out from being absent so much even with a doctors note. I have felt only pain for at least 10 year years. My life has been put on hold because I can’t do much.

  • http://twitter.com/alex987854 Alex987854

    I’m British, I have the NHS which I willingly pay for. No US government is going to be brave enough to set one up for you so:

    I have a suggestion. Set up your own.

    It would need some help, but there must be someone who can start this. Set up your own not for profit insurance company. That way, no Government of any colour can can take health care away from you. There are millions of you, you can do what governments all over the world do, share the costs and share the risks. You’ll all be shareholders, but nobody will make money from it, but if you get enough people, you can scrap the nonsense about pre existing conditions, have people pay premiums they can afford and get yourselves affordable healthcare. Affordable whatever you earn.
    There must be someone out there who can make it work. Someone who is already using their wealth to save lives all over the world maybe. All the unions acting as a collective to save money for their members, their families and communities.
    Get together. There’s nothing here that any politician shouldn’t support. It’s a huge community working together to make everyone’s life better.
    And don’t vote for anyone that won’t back it.

    • http://twitter.com/sharpcontrast Michelle

      Australia has one of those… you’d think someone would have done it a while ago in the US. I am so sad for them all.

  • Mat_t

    I only pay $10/mo to cover me and my wife with the healthcare, but it’s high deductible – so unless the money builds up to cover the deductible it’s kinda useless/daunting to consider needing to see the doctor. Basically it is the opposite of the concept of preventative care, but it does allow an HSA at leas.t

    I pay 100% until $6000 and 20% after (80% covered). But I get $1000/yr towards the plan from my employer too. So eh, I guess it’s okay? Other option is like $250/mo for a $300 deductible.

    healthcare is freakin expensive.

  • ckinanon

    I’ve been living at home with my psychologically abusive father for a number of years. I’m too scared to move out because I won’t be able to afford health insurance. He’ll take me off his plan if I move out. I’m about to get married to someone I don’t love to get his military insurance. I don’t want to be an insurance wife.

    • Isabel Teunis

      That is so horrible and wrong. I hope and pray that a solution will come up for you. Please remember that you are loved no matter what.

  • Cynthia Closkey

    Along these same lines: The Healthy Artists blog http://healthyartists.org/

    “We are a Pittsburgh-based organization led by young adults and we produce short video portraits in which artists talk about their lives, their work, and how they’ve struggled with the current broken health care system.”

    These short video stories of artists of all forms — musicians, writers, artists, and more — are nicely done and well-worth spreading.

  • http://www.magpiemusing.com magpie

    as it so happens, i wrote about insurance on my blog the other day. http://www.magpiemusing.com/2012/10/the-broken-arm-broken-system.html

    i have insurance. it’s just that it’s basically catastrophic coverage. the premium for me is paid by my employer; i pay the step-up to cover my kid – which is almost $300 a month. the policy covers some things for “free”, like a well-visit to the GYN and an annual checkup, but everything else we pay for at the contracted rate – until we hit the skyhigh deductible. it’s crazy.

  • wendy

    I managed to keep COBRA payments up while unemployed for 13 months by using credit cards. Now I’m in bankruptcy. Worked for a year (with insurance) and then laid off again. Seven months this time, with no insurance, and then another 4 months when I was only able to find work 32 hours a week. Now that that job has gone full-time, and for a small business owner who WANTS me to have insurance, and will pay for it, but because I have asthma I was repeatedly turned down for private insurance at ANY price. I managed to stay on some of my maintenance meds by applying to the drug company aid programs, but had to drop two others. I got a lung infection 2 weeks ago and had to pay over $120 for basic treatment. I am in the process of applying for my state’s IPXP – had to hunt down some documents to prove eligibility, but I’m hopeful that we can get it going soon.

    • aikanae

      Good luck. If you know someone living in a state that is on the border with Mexico, they can bring in 3 months worth of asthma medications at a time. An inhaler that costs $240 in the US costs $10-$24. There are charter buses that take people across the border for medications, dental care and surgery all over. It is the exact same medication. I have asthma too and know how important it is.

    • aikanae

      Good luck. If you know someone living in a state that is on the border with Mexico, they can bring in 3 months worth of asthma medications at a time. An inhaler that costs $240 in the US costs $10-$24. There are charter buses that take people across the border for medications, dental care and surgery all over. It is the exact same medication. I have asthma too and know how important it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patricia.l.donaldson Patricia Langley Donaldson

    Insurance is a business in the US, maybe it shouldn’t be. There are many companies and many levels of coverage. But it is a lot like a casino–if everyone wins–they would go out of business. People are going to yell at me over that truth, but it is true–America is where you can sell anything (generally) for whatever the market will bear. Whoever thought we would buy bottled water for $2.00 each. Supply and demand. It sucks but it is why we are paying an “insurance company” to help us bear the cost of healthcare. Because you don’t have the money to pay those huge bills on your own. You can buy a good policy if you can afford it, but I can’t stand it when people buy a policy they don’t read and don’t understand and then complain when their policy dosen’t pay “everything”. And “everything” changes every minute of the day. Government issued insurance is a huge issue and should not be decided by what your uncle heard on the internet or by a sound byte…whether you pay by taxation or pay an insurance company–whether you vote blue or red, don’t say later that you had the chance to become informed but you were too busy.

  • Mel

    You’ve inspired me to blog my thoughts about this, if anyone is interested. Pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve used Tumblr for good! http://farfromextinct.tumblr.com/post/33653563806/a-lesson-in-gratitude

  • Terri Sandys

    Thank you! Reposting this.

  • veedub

    thank the godz i am 74 and on medicare (senior advantage with kaiser), because in july i was diagnosed with lymphoma and am undergoing chemotherapy now. my kaiser dues are $96 a month, and i pay $25 co-pay for each doctor visit or lab test, and $150-175 for each CAT or PET scan, $15-20 for each prescription drug order, but chemo itself is free, as is the Neulasta shot i have to get each time, which would cost $1000 each out of pocket. so with $933 coming in each month from social security as my sole income, i can make it.
    of course, this leaves my husband to support me and pay my share of the rent and utilities. he is 65 but won’t be able to retire for at least five years, maybe more. he has insurance through his job, but if he got sick we would both be up shit creek. and we’re the ENTITLED ones (that kills me–i paid into social security for years!), the TAKERS, the 47percent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/patricia.l.donaldson Patricia Langley Donaldson

    Read about Obamacare in Wikipedia. This part in the actual bill is the part that started the “death panel” scare :A non-profit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is established, independent from government, to undertake comparative effectiveness research.[44] This is charged with examining the “relative health outcomes, clinical effectiveness, and appropriateness” of different medical treatments by evaluating existing studies and conducting its own. Its 19-member board is to include patients, doctors, hospitals, drug makers, device manufacturers, insurers, payers, government officials and health experts. It will not have the power to mandate or even endorse coverage rules or reimbursement for any particular treatment. Medicare may take the Institute’s research into account when deciding what procedures it will cover, so long as the new research is not the sole justification and the agency allows for public input.[45] The bill forbids the Institute to develop or employ “a dollars per quality adjusted life year” (or similar measure that discounts the value of a life because of an individual’s disability) as a threshold to establish what type of health care is cost effective or recommended. This makes it different from the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

  • VKI

    The FIRST thing we need to do, is get insurance companies off the stock market… How can they provide good, inexpensive medical insurance when they have turn a profit for their shareholders…. Wake up Congress! See things from our point of view…

    • theparsley

      Some insurance companies are non-profit. I’m with one of the biggest, Kaiser Permanente. What I usually say about Kaiser is that the only thing worse than Kaiser is all the others.

      Kaiser is a mixed bag, and like anyone with complex health issues, I have certainly had my problems with them. But almost none of my problems involved the billing side of things, and I consider my policy affordable (about $285 month for a 43 year old single female, and most copays are quite reasonable.)

      But it’s sheer dumb luck that I bought an individual policy when I was a little younger and MUCH healthier and have only had normal annual increases. If I lose this policy for any reason, I’m S-C-R-E-W-E-D.

  • meagan413

    I just need to say your doctorwhoscarfsonicscrewdriver photograph is beyond perfect. Somehow, I think you should use this #InsurancePoll trend and your husband’s almost-perfect-wisdom-tooth. Something brillant is brewing…In my mind, were WE ARE THE MEDIA. Bring it to Detroit or not, you could raffle it off and donate the monies to health care, something or other, or give the money to a needy family with no insurance or not. Ideas? yeah, i am full of them ;-) <3

    • meagan413

      Another idea just popped up…you could sell the Kyle Cassidy photo at shows. I would totally buy one and hang it above my bed to ward off evil insurance. Also, it gives me the feeling that you could heal me from almost any ailment.

  • SnarKatestic

    My husband and I both work for the same community theatre; I’m part time, but he’s full time and gets his insurance through them, and I’m covered under it. We are extremely lucky to have vision and dental as part of our plan, because without them, we couldn’t afford to go.

    My husband is on two separate medications and has to see his doctor multiple times a year in order to keep getting the prescriptions. He should probably also see a shrink and a chiropractor, but we can’t afford either. He’s had two trips to the emergency room in the last 6 years that I believe we are still paying for and a significant amount of dental work as well. We are in debt up to our eyebrows as a result.

    Because I am the healthier of the two of us, I haven’t been to a doctor since before I was married 6 years ago, when I was still covered under my parent’s health insurance.

    About four years ago, when my husband was in grad school, I did not have health insurance. My husband was covered through his graduate enrollment, but I was not. Because the university insurance was so bad (he was paying full price for his prescriptions), we looked at private insurance, but my husband was turned down and we determined it wasn’t worth it just for me.

    A year later, I got a job in retail and went through a very stressful Christmas season that began in October. I went 72 days between periods and we both avoided the subject, because my cycle is irregular, but never like that. I never went to a doctor, and still nervously put it down to stress because it returned in January and doesn’t match any descriptions of miscarriages I’ve ever read.

    We use condoms only; but shortly after this, I did a cost analysis of the price of condoms vs. the price of the pill (there was no Planned Parenthood nearer than a two hour drive to another state, at the time, but we have since moved back to our home state). “OK, we can keep hoping that condoms work, or we can start having sex 8 times a week, that’s when we’d break even if I switch to the pill.”

    When the law recently changed to allow free birth control, mammograms, pap smears, etc, I figured as soon as I could, I’ll go in and have these tests done and get on the pill (which may regulate my aforementioned irregular cycle), but I have to wait until I know for sure, because not all insurers are required to offer these services and I can’t afford the surprise. Fingers crossed.

  • http://erinen31.tumblr.com Erin Nies

    My twitter feed is private, so my answers won’t show up in the hashtag search, so here goes:

    1) US. 2) Grant Administrator for major cancer research center. 3) yes. 4) All health insurance is paid for by my employer. I have a $350 deductible, with a $100 deductible for medications. I pay a minimal monthly fee to add vision & dental (approx. $40) insurance.

    I have major spinal issues & had my 1st surgery last year (I’ll need more in the future as my spine continues to deteriorate). That surgery alone cost almost $200,000, of which I had to pay $2500 in addition to my $350 deductible. Our new fiscal year began 9/1/12 & my back got worse, meaning I’m starting over again with my medical bills. Physical therapy is costing me approximately $120/week (after I paid my $350 deductible) & I’m on week 5. I’ve had to put off much needed major dental work in order to pay for my physical therapy, because even with my dental insurance, I still have to pay quite a bit out of pocket.

    If I lost my job & couldn’t get another job within the institution/medical center, I’d be majorly screwed. COBRA payments would run me around $600-$700/month & if I needed another surgery, I’d never be able to pay for it. I worry all the time about what may happen & that I’ll end up in a wheel chair unnecessarily all because I can’t afford health care.

  • Coraline

    I’m sorry if it is irrelevant but I’m French and I’m missing a point in a lot of your stories… Lots of you speak about “preexisting conditions”, I’m not sure to understand what this is… Does this mean that if you were Sick or Pregnant or stuff like that you don’t even have the right to get insurance ’cause you might get sick in the future ??? It seems totally crazy to me, is it SO fucked up ? Please if someone can enlight me on this point…

    Here we’re covered by government and you can take a private insurance if you want / can afford it ’cause public insurance doen’t cover everything. I am lucky ’cause my parents are helping me through their own insurance. I’m one-eyed so I need regular control on my eyes, but I don’t know how I’ll do after I turn 27. But still, when I read all your words, I think I’m lucky, really lucky (if I lived in USA I’d probably be blind today). And when I hear that for a long time French government said USA healthcare were a model to follow… I hope you’ll be heard, I already made the #InsurancePoll turn here. We are the media, hope it’s true…

    • Terry

      Pre-existing means that you had the issue before you were insured by the insurance companies. Some companies do not allow any visits to the doctor for 1 year or more for that “illness” or if you do have to go to the doctor, hospital, they will not pay for it. So, for instance, I have back issues. If I have insurance that disallows pre-existing conditions, I cannot see a doctor for my back for the amount of time the insurance company deems.

    • SnarKatestic

      That’s exactly right. So, if you have cancer, asthma, a current pregnancy, some condition that sets off little red flags that your health care costs will be higher than someone without these problems, the company can say, “Um, no, you’re going to be costing us more than you’ll pay, we don’t want you.” I think smoking is another one that can get you turned down.

    • theparsley

      “Pre-existing conditions” are the major tool used by US insurance companies to refuse coverage to anyone they think has the slightest chance of ever getting sick. There are two ways they are used against the customer. One, which Terry mentions, is that they allow you to buy a policy but won’t cover, for a set period of time, any illness you previously had before you bought the policy.

      The other way a pre-existing condition is used as a weapon against you is that if you, as an individual, are currently sick, have ever been sick, or look likely to get sick, insurance companies can simply refuse to sell you a policy. There are some fairly extreme examples of this (being refused coverage because you once had a sinus infection, that sort of thing) but just about any illness can be declared a pre-existing condition by insurance companies. So, if you’ve ever had cancer, even if you’ve been successfully treated: You’re uninsurable. If you’ve ever been treated for asthma, depression, diabetes, etc, etc., you are now uninsurable.

      The other word you’ll wish you never learned is “recission.” This occurs when you have a policy, get sick, and then the insurance company suddenly decides to review your original application materials and look for ANY tiny omission – like you forgot to mention you were once treated for a sinus infection. This means that your original application was ‘fraudulent’ and your policy can be cancelled on the spot. There are many terrible stories about this – one insurer had a special panel just to review women newly diagnosed with breast cancer to see if their policies could be cancelled.

      None of this normally applies to employer-provided coverage, except for the time limit on coverage for a pre-existing condition. This is one of the major reasons people must cling to their jobs even under very adverse conditions – because they will be unable to buy their own policy on the open market at any price.

      The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) has already made recission illegal except in cases where deliberate and intentional fraud in the original application can be proven.

      Starting in 2014, the law will also forbid individual insurers to refuse coverage, or charge any more, to any person regardless of their health status or if they have a pre-existing condition.

  • Terry

    I believe we need to go to a “socialist” insurance plan. That is the only way that American’s will be able to afford health care. People think that this is just a gateway step to complete socialism, like pot is a gateway drug to strong drugs. Fortunately, that is not true but we need to convince the rest of the US that. If you look at England, Australia, France, Canada, they all have a socialist medical system and it works. Yes, taxes will be higher, but, look @ it another way, you would not have to worry about insurance . If you got sick, you would be covered regardless of job status.

    One of the reasons that drug costs are so expensive is because the American’s are footing the bill for 80% of the R&D that goes on in the drug world. Another issue is that hospitals and private medical practices pay upwards of $200,000 plus dollars for insurance EACH doctor just in case they get sued. Oh, and lets not forget about the deals that hospitals make with insurance companies. You may get a bill for $200,000 for a hospital stay, but the insurance company only pays $20,000 and the rest gets written off. So, if you are uninsured, you get to pay the premium so that it is balanced out (unless of course you are an illegal immigrant).

  • Dagmar

    Back in the mid 1980’s, my husband and I free-lanced. We were able to get good, reasonably priced coverage through a Wisconsin co-op of other freelancers. When I was diagnosed with Crohns/Colitis at age 34 and could no longer work, my husband took a job as a magazine editor, which had normal health insurance benefits. In the mid 90’s he left that job to work for a dotcom startup that had too good to be true benefits. When that job fell through a few years later he successfully branched out on his own. Meanwhile we were on Cobra. When that ran out and we tried to purchase insurance for our family of four, I was denied everywhere, at any cost, and oddly, he was denied from a few companies because of a mild phlebitis event he had 15 years earlier. What an eye-opener that was. The co-op we were in the 80’s had long since ceased to exist because of rising costs, now you needed a very big pool of people to keep that costs reasonable and the rules had changed.

    He found a policy for the boys and himself at 8k a year with a 2k deductible. Wisconsin had a high-risk pool, which was my only option. They paid providers Medicare rates and charged me 8k with a 2k deductible. So in the late 90s, we paid 16k a year for a family of 4 and all medical expenses were out of pocket due to the high deductibles. By that time I had a total colectomy and did not need much medical care, In fact, what we paid out in premiums exceeded all the medical care we had as family over those years. I worked those ten years to pay for my high-risk insurance premiums because one surgery can wipe out a lifetime of savings and investments.

    When my husband got a job offer from his present employer, he took it. The company is very generous, and thank goodness for that because the cost has ballooned to 25k a year. To keep those costs down the HR department does what we did when we were self-employed which is change providers every year. Along with that come inefficiencies and all the other annoying denials and claims and counterclaims that you get when you switch providers. Often that comes with having to switch a Doctor because they are not part of the new company’s network.

    It’s terrible. I don’t want this for my children. I care less about their social security and Medicare than I do their ability to invest toward their own retirement and pay the damn rent. There is a surreal quality to healthcare in America. It truly is a broken system. It makes it very difficult for people to be, self-employed, start small businesses, to move from job to job and it makes unemployment even worse. And the reality is that as soon as you decide to have a family you need health insurance. My heart just breaks for those who have to file bankruptcy in order to deal with a health crisis. I am sick to death of spaghetti dinners and fundraisers for my neighbor’s chemo treatments. What kind of a society are we? It is just wrong. As much as I try to, I do not understand the Repeal and Replace proponents at all. Medicare vouchers indeed….not in our current healthcare system.

  • http://twitter.com/FelixMarques Félix Marqués

    I am amazed that some American politicians seriously argue that public, universal, free healthcare is unsustainable. Other countries are doing it and it works. I just don’t see how can it even be an argument.

    (Not spending half of the budget on war could be of some help, though. Just saying.)

  • Loïc

    I’ve spent several months in the US and I was deeply marked by the health insurance issues. My then gf, which was a french teacher for University of Texas at Austin got sick, some kick of heavy cold with sore throat. She had a small insurance in her contrat but BAM => $100. In France, it would have cost around 30€, honestly. And a terrible story: a boyfriend of one of her friends got severely beaten up outside a bar. The police could not find who did that. The poor guy had to borrow $15 000 for his hospital and dental fees. This is total madness. In France, the same thing happens and it’s FREE, you don’t pay a fucking dime because some random fucking asshole decided to pummel you face! And you know the best? Everybody gets it and it’s even cheaper than in the US! Call this communism or whatever, but in the end, it’s cheaper. This is total madness. Thank you Amanda for throwing this up the poor US citizens, they need to know they are ripped of.

  • Mette

    In Denmark, I pay through my taxes. It’s not an extra thing, or an issue that is stated on my yearly income papers. Healthcare is just there, and it’s as normal as anything. When I had to have my gallblatter removed, just after my diagnosis, I checked an official website the government put out, where I could see how long I’d be on the waitinglist. Seeing as it was over 3 weeks at the hospital I was supposed to use, I automaticly had the right to chose another one. I did. I had my surgery. I got pills, and they took amazing care of me.
    Noone took away my right to chose where or how to be treated. In all fairniess, my “disease” wasn’t deadly (though I did get a pretty bad infection a couple days before surgery), but it was extremely painfull, and taking away all my energy.

    Socialist or not, I do not, and will never understand, why people in countries where you have to pay for insurance, believe that our “socialist” ways are wrong. At the end of the day, yes I pay high taxes, but my kids will go to school, highschool and university for free! They will have the same level education as you can get in Harvard or Yale, and the doctors we train, again, for free, are some of the best in the world.
    I see my taxes as my responsibility for my neighbour. I take care of him, by paying taxes, that help him get what he needs, and he takes care of me the same.

    Aren’t we put on earth to live together? And to help eachother?

    • Hineko

      If I could, I’d vote this up a thousand times just for the last few paragraphs.

  • Randomgit

    The more I look at these stories of peoples insurance woes and why they are in the predicament they are, the more that health insurance looks like a great way to keep people desperate enough to do things they don’t want/shouldn’t have to do. Just because someone else thinks they should. A really insidious way to control peoples behaviour and keep them productive whilst expecting less for it.

  • rovingpencil

    The insurance coverage made available by the corporate world to a subset of US workers is the indentured servitude of our time. This is no exaggeration. We live in a nation whose people lack the freedom to do as they wish for a living, even if sale of their music, jewelry, artisan cheese, or change-management skills would allow them make ends meet — because the cost of health insurance scuttles the plan. Most particularly for people with children. Not onlypeople not follow their heart to determine how to spend that one-third or more of their lives that they are at work — many are trapped in abusive employment situations that they cannot leave lest they lose their health insurance. These are people who *know* that life can change in an instant.

  • rovingpencil

    The insurance coverage made available by the corporate world to a subset of US workers is the indentured servitude of our time. This is no exaggeration. We live in a nation whose people lack the freedom to do as they wish for a living, even if sale of their music, jewelry, artisan cheese, or change-management skills would allow them make ends meet — because the cost of health insurance scuttles the plan. Most particularly for people with children. Not onlypeople not follow their heart to determine how to spend that one-third or more of their lives that they are at work — many are trapped in abusive employment situations that they cannot leave lest they lose their health insurance. These are people who *know* that life can change in an instant.

  • rovingpencil

    Very brief story to illustrate why people fear risking the loss of insurance once they have it, and the clear and present danger of being uninsured.

    nephew, 20. healthy as anything. then one day, whoops! leukemia! spends 2wks in ICU; then passes away. the bill: USD1.2 million. he had *by a fluke* paid for a small optional plan through his university, or his parents’ 20% would have been USD240k. just like another mortgage. for their dead son. ON TOP OF FUNERAL EXPENSES. what happens to the parents of kids who die after a short, expensive illness, who didn’t check that little box or whatever on their tuition bill?

    • http://twitter.com/sharpcontrast Michelle

      How can that be ethical? How can people send a bill out like that to parents, to anyone grieving?

  • Melissa N.

    I live in the US and am insured through my job. It is pretty good coverage but I was born with a structural heart defect which is obviously a pre-existing condition. I had open heart surgery when I was two weeks old (which my parents could not afford) and again when I was 9 years old. I have had a cardiologist my entire life and go through various testing every year… expensive testing, MRIs, EKG, echos, stress echos, 24 hr halter monitors to name a few. I have to see an adult congenital cardiologist, and luckily there is a great ACH program in Philadelphia but my cardiologist is not fully covered under my insurance so I have to come out of pocket 20% for everything (including if I ever need another surgery). Thankfully U@Penn has a flexible payment program for patients so I can pay $25 a month with no interest as long as I am not late on payments. All that said I consider myself very fortunate in many ways. I do however fear the day that I am denied coverage completely because I have a pre-exisiting condition.

  • http://twitter.com/jenseeya Jenny Clift

    I’m Australian and had vague ideas of how awful the US healthcare system is and know how much more it costs for travel insurance when going to the States. I recently watched Michael Moore’s Sicko and became more appalled.

    When I had my son 11 years ago it was through our public health system. It cost me nothing for midwife checkups, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, and then the actual birth and follow up stuff. (When I say nothing, some of my taxes every year go towards Medicare which funds the public health system.)

    I really hope this does some good as everyone deserves health care that is affordable.

  • http://twitter.com/jenannie jeannie

    I was married for years, and had his health coverage. of course when you get divorced, the wife loses the most, and I lost that health care. fortunately at the time I was working and my boss at the time agreed to pay my coverage. then I started getting sick, had to quit my job, lost my insurance. I went without coverage for months, and without healthcare, getting sicker (I have hemochromatosis) finally I discovered a program at our local hospital that offers financial assistance, and they are giving me 100% coverage for all my treatments, appointments, tests, ER visits, etc. without that program I’d be very very sick right now. the pre-existing condition insurance in ohio was 1., requiring me to wait 6 months from my previous insurance coverage until I could apply, and 2., so expensive there was (is) no way I can afford it.
    I’m not sure what the answer is, the whole system is messed up and I don’t think that there is any one real answer for fixing it. reading these stories is both heartbreaking, enlightening and sad.

  • Sylvia

    Yep, I tweeted already but I wanted to write a little more…

    So I live in Australia with my husband. He’s an engineer and I’m a PhD student. The government’s healthcare (Medicare) covers a large percentage of each doctor visit, x-ray etc (total depends on which doctor you choose, your age, whether you qualify for social services etc and is often 100%).

    On top of this we pay $120/month for health insurance. This health insurance means the dentist and optometrist are affordable. I’ve had 4 fillings in the last year, my husband had 2, I’m getting my wisdom teeth out next week and he needs new glasses. None of this is free but our premiums are low enough that they’re not going to make me stress out about money.

    Here are two things that confuse me about the US:

    1. I’m forever seeing things around the internet about artists/authors/etc, including ones that are very well known, who have contracted a terrible illness and are having a huge sale in order to pay for it. Their other artisty friends chip in and auction off pieces of their work and, while this is beautiful in one way, it makes me really sad. In Australia this kind of thing just doesn’t need to happen because even if you can’t afford private health insurance, Medicare is set up to stop you from dying and give you the treatment you need. I hate the idea that so many artists I love are living on the edge, just rolling the dice each year and hoping they don’t get sick.

    2. I remember that in the Aurora shootings the government paid the healthcare costs for some of the victims and this was heralded as some great and wonderful act. I think it was great. But I also know that there are thousands of others in the US who have less publicised health issues (that they are also not at fault for) and they are left paying it all by themselves. Wouldn’t it be great if the government stepped out and covered everybody?

    The rest of the world is at times horrified, confused, angry, stunned and just plain sad for you guys. When we get ill we just go to the doctor, if it’s really bad then we just go to the hospital. It’s as simple as that.

  • http://twitter.com/barret_me Barret

    I’m not insured. I am a student now and have very minimal insurance through my uni. When I was employed by a small business as a photographer, it was never offered. I paid out of pocket through Blue Cross for like “emergency” insurance in case I was in a car wreck or something horrible. I got a small sty on my eye that needed treatment and probably couldn have been fixed quickly. But 2 months later and many trips to the doctor, nothing was done until I finally got pissed and demanded to go to an opthamologist. I needed a minor surgery, which I shouldn’t have had to have done, but I was delayed so long. I have a small scar on my and some lashes won’t grow back and I got stuck with a bill about $2500 which was just astronomical compared to how little money I was making. When I began to make more money, I switched to Kaiser. I really love their service and way they run their hospital, but the premiums got too high and I had to drop it. So, now I’m without it again.

    I am for some sort of government/private hybrid system. Death panels already exist: they’re called the insurance provider that chooses whether or not an operation is covered by one’s plan. I’ve heard good and bad about single-payer systems. I’ve heard good things about Canada’s from a friend that used to live there, but also bad if you need a major surgery the wait is very long. And I’ve heard the same from my brother-in-law who is English about their NHS. So, while I think everyone needs to be covered and the poorest get subsidized rates, maybe some kind of “public option” would be best, where you can pay into a government health care voluntarily at a low cost that will undercut the private insurers and force them to either lower their rates, provide better care, or both. But I think the money is there for the US government to help subsidize costs or bully the insurance companies into lowering their rates. It’s just not being allocated properly.

  • http://twitter.com/Grrrl1der Grrrl1der

    I apologize if this is a duplicate- I attempted to post and it didn’t seem to work.

    I put my stats up on Twitter, but I wanted to share my parents’ story. My mom, the only income earner in their household, had a stroke a couple of years ago. They did not have insurance because they were not able to afford it, even though my mother works in healthcare. As my mother’s stroke was severe, and we weren’t sure if she was going to make it, my father gathered all the funds he could in order to be able to pay the regular bills. He filed for their tax return and submitted for the entirety of my mother’s vacation pay. They did also get assistance from their church. Realizing that they would not be able to pay for her brain surgery and nearly month long stay in hospital care, they filed for Medicaid. They were denied Medicaid because they “had too much money in their bank account”. Even after appealing with an explanation to a judge, they were denied. Ultimately, with almost $500,000 in bills from this event, they had to file for bankruptcy. My mother still does not have insurance and, I believe, does not get the follow up care that she needs.

  • http://www.podroznystudio.com/ Melissa

    I wanted to add my own story. I’m a US resident. I’m 36 years old and working in a dead end and abusive low paying office job, simply because I need insurance and can’t afford to pay for my own. While I’m working in that place (where I’m being paid half of what the former person in my position was being paid), I am NOT working as an artist. My partner is covered by his Union’s health care for life, but since they don’t recognize domestic partnerships, I can’t go on his insurance, and I already did the “get married for insurance” deal once in my life.

    It is a very common thing for me to be heard yelling “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY, THAT BASIC HEALTH CARE FOR EVERYONE IS CONSIDERED BAD?!?!?” I’m more than happy to pay higher taxes if it means that I don’t have to worry about health care. Especially where frankly I’m not getting any younger, and already have several minor health problems that could get worse if I’m not careful.

    Don’t understand this country at all, sometimes, and I’ve lived here all of my life…

  • Mrs Arkban

    1. USA 2. SAHM 3. Yes, through husband’s job (software architect) 4. $800 for my son and myself (husband’s job pays his premiums)

    I’ve been lucky (and I know it) to have always had health insurance, either through my parents, my job or my husband. His last job paid all the premiums and we had an HSA (could dump in up to $5k tax free to pay for health expenses. It’s how we paid for my LASIK) which was my favorite plan b/c I didn’t have to budget for co pays. This insurance plan does have a high deductible but they are pretty good – our baby needed genetic testing that cost about $10k and we didn’t have to pay any of it.

    I have fibromyalgia, scoliosis and hip/pelvic/leg torsion so I’m very careful never to let my coverage lapse because of pre existing conditions. If we ever got rich, I’d still make my husband find a job with health insurance b/c of all the horror stories I’ve heard about trying to get family or individual coverage not through an employer. We’ve only had to take our son to the ER once (he had the flu at 3 months)

    Dental insurance is a whole other problem. They only cover up to $1500 a year and I have had a lot of major oral surgery to fix congenital issues (gum grafts, bone grafts, implants) that doesn’t get covered. I had one insurance company deny a claim b/c I hadn’t lost my teeth while I was covered under their policy (which would have been impossible b/c I was born without them and no one realized it til I was 13)

  • Jessica_in_Iowa

    I have the pre existing conditions of ADD and general anxiety. My medacations per month cost $500+ without insurance. So I work part time to help pay the rent and my insurance. We can’t even afford to cover my hubby which sucks because he hasn’t been to the doctor for over 10 years.
    Plus, I happen to be a woman so I “indulge” in using the pill for birth control, because a child would put my hubby and I into debt.

  • A

    Clearly, the US system is beyond broken.
    And although there are some helpful provisions in the healthcare law, it certainly isn’t going to solve all woes, like the ridiculous myth that making something ‘mandatory’ suddenly makes it ‘affordable’. I know many friends/family without insurance and not a one of them doesn’t want it, they just decided they need to pay the electricity bill more than they need the insurance.
    I think the primary problem with the bill is the fact that it involves private insurance companies. These companies are obligated to turn a profit. In the end, that does not help the patient. How much of this law actually addresses the actual health care providers?
    Here’s why I ask: I pose to you a reality.
    I’m one of the lucky, blessed souls with a healthcare plan provided by my employer at nominal cost to me. When I gave birth to my son, after an extremely complicated pregnancy, my insurer paid the hospital and doctors and sent me the explanation of benefits. The bill totaled near $35,000. If I had walked in off the street uninsured, that was what I would have had to pay when I had my son 12 years ago. The insurer paid, and this is not an exaggeration, $3500.
    I spoke to a friend, who had a very high-level finance position with a different healthcare company. He explained “No matter what the circumstances, a flat rate for a pregnancy and delivery is set. Yours was complicated. Others aren’t. Always, the insurer pays the hospital $3500.”
    All I could think was it would take a LOT of simple, cheap deliveries to make up for my expensive complications…….or…..a lot of ‘walk-ins’ paying the straight fee.
    There, in my opinion, lies the discrepancy that’s killing us. In the simplest terms: Insurance companies hold healthcare providers hostage. Healthcare providers in turn extort the uninsured public.
    Paying the local street thugs to not break into your car is an apt metaphor.
    No solution that involves the “street thugs” is a good one.
    I do NOT celebrate the healthcare law. It might be addressing some issues, but it’s not fixing the real problem.

  • Sigh

    When I was forced of my parents plan after I turned 25, I had to sign up for insurance. The only problem is because I had a diagnosed condition the price was around $500 per month and only for me!!! I then saw the price go up every year at a rate of about $50. This is absolutely ridiculous….

  • Nancy Nickle

    I can not get into my twitter account. I have an insurance story to tell, that is one in which I would like to warn people about a problem with health insurance. I was scheduled for a total knee replacement. I called my insurance to get an idea of the cost, and they said about $6,000.00 (my share). When I got the bill it was $24,460.00. It took many calls to find out about the difference, and then I only found by accident. I went to a hospital that was part of my system, however it was not a VALUE hospital. Value hospital agrees to charge a certain amount for hip and knee replacement, one that is just part of the system can charge what they want. My total bill was over $92,000.00. I am making payments on the $24,460.00 (no I can not qualify as a person that makes to little money to have my bill reduced) for the next 5 years. I have overused my hospital coverage, and do not have any more for the rest of the year. (My health is not good, either)

  • Jen/USA

    What makes me so mad is that people bitch and complain about not wanting to pay the extra taxes for national health care when they are already paying that money, they just don’t recognize it. Co-pays, high deductables, Rx costs all on top of already high monthly rates.
    One of my worst fears in life is getting a chronic illness or having a child with one and going bankrupt. I quite frequently dream of moving to Canada. Hockey and free healthcare. Yes, please!

  • http://cirquedumot.com/new-readers/ Susan Silver

    Interesting data.

    I went to policy school over this very issue. My interest was specific to mental health parity.

    One out of four people have a diagnosable mental illness. Which, by the way, is a pre-existing condition. Insurance, if you have it, will only cover a limited amount of sessions with a therapist and may not pay for psychiatric care unless you have a diagnosis from the DSM. That is one reason why the new edition was very controversial.

    I think of it this way. Any tax we will have to pay to support the healthcare system is an investment. One that pays off in productive American employees. In 2004 the World Health Organization recognized that mental health was the #1 factor contributing to disability in the US.

    Suicide is now the #1 cause of death due to injury in this country. We should not have to lose anyone else because they didn’t have access to see a therapist or get on medication.


    Anyway, I could write for hours on all the benefits that the country receives when we all have healthcare coverage. I just wanted to point out the specifics due to discrimination based on mental health. The only way to end it is in 2014 when they finally strike the pre-existing clause denial for all.

  • http://twitter.com/pixelsrzen Jim

    I had a good job in the newspaper publishing industry. I was well paid and had good insurance. As the economy contracted after the events of 2007, my co-workers and I couldn’t move fast enough as the parent company consolidated operations, closed printing operations and laid off staff. I was transferred to another location to manage a centralized operation, but the plans changed nearly as soon as I got there. My pay was reduced twice, so I had more responsibility and less pay. The parent corporation ‘internalized’ our 401K funds, investing the money in privately held funds not rated by Morningstar, so we didn’t have any idea if the funds were well managed or not. Finally, in March of 2012, I was laid off after engineering an automated image adjustment workflow and being told to train my replacements. The newspaper I worked at in 2007 contracted from 208 employees to 19. I was given 17 weeks severance, with paid insurance. That expired three months ago. Now I’m paying the full cost of that good insurance: $1500 a month. Although my skillset is varied and transferable, it seems no one wants to take a chance on a 40-something manager who used to work for newspapers. My daughter suffered a serious traumatic brain injury in 2007—I can’t not have insurance. Unemployment insurance doesn’t even cover my insurance payment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001645511474 Kenneth Smith

    I don’t have a sad or horrific story, but basically I haven’t had insurance since I got kicked off my parents insurance at 21. At the time, I was working temp jobs, so a few months here, a few months there. The few jobs I have kept for over a year didn’t offer insurance through the company. I haven’t been to a dentist in 7 years, and had to pay out of pocket (okay so my Mom did…I was unemployed at the time) to have my wisdom teeth removed a couple of years ago. I’ve only been to the doctor once when I was 24 and what I felt was deathly sick. I went to one of the clinics in my town and paid 200 dollars to have the doctor tell me all I had was a cold and to go down to the corner store. I told him the cold medicine wasn’t very effective on whatever I had (After all, that was the first thing I did), and he said my symptoms weren’t bad enough for prescription drugs but that I would be okay.

    I’ve also been developing wrist, ankle, knee, and back problems that I am very careful not to make worse for fear of having to break my family’s bank in going to the doctor. About a year and a half ago, I had to stay at home a whole week because I threw my back out and could barely walk around my apartment. I slept on my couch, and only got up to use the restroom and feed myself. It would have been great to go to the doctor, but far too expensive. Since then, I’ve been super careful…I mean I threw my back out cleaning my tub…it’s not like I was doing some crazy wall flips or something.

    In short, I would love to have insurance. I was actually hopeful for Obamacare, and that I might actually be able to get treatment. So much for that…it seems like all it will do is force me to buy insurance I can’t afford.

    I’ve gone back to school this semester so it will be another 2 and a half to 3 years before I can get a “real” job and actually get affordable insurance. At that point it will be almost a decade since I’ve been to the doctor…that thought is almost unreal to me.

  • Abigail E

    My mother was diagnosed with early-onset frontal lobe dementia in 2009 and we got her on disability in 2011. She is only 63 years old today and is living in an assisted living facility because her symptoms have made it completely unsafe for her to remain in our home. She and my father owned their own business for 35 years (the length of their marriage) until she could not work anymore, and the business had to close due to my father needing to care for her full-time. Unfortunately, since my mother is not 65, she is not eligible for medicare, and her insurance company has raised her insurance from $600 (entire family rate) to $900 (now only covering her) since her diagnosis. With insurance, her medications are over $600 a month, and her assisted living facility is not covered AT ALL. If we got rid of her health insurance, we would be paying so much more for her medications, but thats all it is covering now since she does not need typical medical care anymore, only assistance. We can only put her in an assisted living facility because she cannot share a room due to her aggressive behavior. This makes us ineligible for most medicaid/discounted adult care facilities. So even if we did have medicare or bled our assets to be eligible for medicaid (not hard considering how expensive end of life care is), we could not put her in a medicaid accepting facility. We would not have been able to afford her care without the generosity of family & friends, and being able to sell some assets. Since this is a degenerative and rare disease, treatment and care is unusual and expensive. We have paid for almost all of her care out of pocket since its not going to see doctors, but going to adult day care, specialized speech therapy, and now living in an assisted living facility. I have run into so many walls trying to find some sort of solution to this, hoping above all hope that her health insurance would cover it or a government program would, but to no avail. When I realized this it made me really angry – the health insurance company we have paid to for so many years is now taking advantage of her condition, knowing that she is uninsurable with her pre-existing condition (oh even now with Affordable Care Act there is a 12 month waiting period for insurance with a pre-existing condition such as hers, if we did want to get new insurance). We are thankful for her disability payments (which only cover about 1/5th of her medical expenses monthly), but I keep finding myself wondering HOW in the world families with less than we have can manage in a similar situation. We must have reform if we don’t want to go bankrupt bearing the burden of aging parents and grandparents – an inevitable truth!

  • Carito

    I never thought how lucky i am. I live in Argentina, if you work in the private sector 3% (or something like that, honestly i never thought about it) of your paycheck goes to a private health care system, you only have to pay for some specific things, so i’m mostly cover.

    The public health system is full of flaws, and more money should go to hospitals, equipments and doctors (once i swallowed a coin and the first hospital didn’t have enough bateries for the little flashlight that they needed to look down my throat) but if you’re unemployed you can get medical attention, for free.
    One of my brothers broke his arm twice, the other one had very bad asthma attacks when he was younger, two of my cousins have been in a really serious car crash, and the state took care of them when all of that happened. I’m sure that my parents and aunt had to pay for some things, but it was minimum.

    I work at a company that does auditing for several public health care systems (you get one depending on your line of work or if you’re retired) and daily i see thousands of prescriptions for cancer medication that the patients will get for free. Medication that nobody could ever afford, the prices are obscene. And sometimes i get mad that these people will have to wait 2 more weeks because of some stupid bureaucracy, but in the end they will get it.

    When you live in this country you are afraid of a lot things all the time, but i never worried about going bankrupt because i needed medical attention.

  • Vegetarian Librarian

    I’m 31, and just got health insurance after nearly 10 years without. No one would cover me because I had to have back surgery for osteoporosis.

    I’m now a full-time librarian and I pay $120/month for my healthcare coverage. Sadly, it would be $800/month more to add my husband, so he has no coverage. He gets kidney stones and has to depend on the ER for acute care. Each time, they have to do an ultrasound, then laser the stones for well over $15,000. I have no idea how we will ever pay it all off. He’s applied for assistance in paying it off, but because of my income, we can’t get help. Between our home, his medical bills, and my student loans, we have about $250,000 in debt, most of that in medical bills. It’s ridiculous.

  • leeannafar

    ok, i know there are a million horror stories, and i was one of the lucky ones. but here is my experience: i was living in japan and was on a nice sunday motorcycle ride with a friend. coming around a curve of a mountain road, i was facing the grill of a semi staring me in the face. i dodged it as best i could, bad timing and not the fault of the driver. but in doing so i shattered my knee joint, and spent 8 months in a hospital with no family, no english speakers, and most importantly, no opiates. japan has a no opiate policy and because of that the initial ER doc told me i would never walk again. this was not because i was inoperable, but because no one would ever go through the physical therapy without drugs to make it back to the world of the mobile. i love the docs that helped me through it, but FUCK the japanese heath system that made me feel like a drug seeker every time i asked for a mild painkiller. it took me almost a year of horrible pain, suicidal thoughts, and total devastation of my previous life to get back to semi-normal. and all of this could have been prevented if there was a national health care system in the US. because in japan, even though i was only a “resident”, they RETROACTIVELY covered my injuries with the local prefecture insurance. but if i came back to the US, i would have been given a hack surgeon and saddled with debt for years. but japan flew in the best surgeon they could find, and today i can walk, run, snowboard, surf; anything i can dream, i can do. thank you japan national heath care, and fuck you US. i will be leaving again soon. for a fulfilling job. and dental work.

  • deeza13666

    Unfortuneately healthcare in Australia is not totally free. Yes there are still some general parctitioners who bulk bill and won’t cost you anything, but on average it is around $65.00 for a doctors visit, and then you are subsidised from medicare for about $30.00. Unless of course you have a health care card because you are on employment benefits or a pension then it is free. Yes there are emergency departments who will treat you for free, but I have heard many horror stories about not receiving proper treatment because you are not in a health fund. The government bought in this year that medicare is means tested, which means that if you earn over say $87 000 (couple) a year and are not in private health insurance you will have to pay more in tax and a higher medicare levy. You also lose your government subsidy for private health and have to pay the full rate. Luckily (sadly) we are well below that income threshhold and still have our private health insurance subsidised, or we wouldn’t be able to afford it. I am concerned that Australia is heading down the same path as America, no health insurance, no treatment.

  • LA

    I am fascinated by the responses so far. It’s amazing that much of the world is indignant and astonished at how shoddy the health care situation is here. It almost makes me happy that I live in a world where a lot of people are so well taken care of that they can’t fathom things being otherwise. That said, here’s the ridiculous situation I’m in:

    I have all but been diagnosed with a serious medical disorder which, if not treated, could potentially lead to a host of nasty, life-threatening problems down the road. I say “all but” because I have been refusing the blood test that would confirm the diagnosis. Why? Because I am 25 and covered by my father’s insurance policy (thanks Obamacare!). So things are fine for now, but I will age out of the program and lose my insurance when I turn 26 about a year from now. I want to get the medical care I need. I could afford it. The co-pays on my dad’s plan are very reasonable. What I can’t afford is to get the diagnosis and in a year be stuck with no insurance and a pre-existing condition that would prevent me from ever having affordable health care again. I’m afraid I’ll ruin my health by waiting, but I know I’ll ruin my finances if I don’t. I cry myself to sleep sometimes because I don’t know what to do.

    This should not be.

  • http://aaronjshay.net/ Aaron J. Shay

    Like many who follow the AFP blog, I’m an artist, ergo I cannot hope to have health insurance any time soon. What will happen if I get terribly sick or injured? It’s a question I ask myself every other day. A day-job doesn’t exist for me that will 1. give me benefits, and 2. allow me time to work on my career. I basically fly around on wings made of luck, and hope that the luck doesn’t start to melt.

    It’s a long way down.

  • Exiled

    I’m an American living in New Zealand because my Kiwi partner and I have pre-existing conditions and can’t get insurance in the U.S. I’d love to come home one day but I can’t until things change.

  • http://twitter.com/lauraannham Laura

    When I was at university in Scotland I had a lot of friends from the States and one of them told me that you had to pay for ambulances in the US. She said one of her friends was really drunk at a party and they had to debate whether or not to call an ambulance to get her stomach pumped because her parents couldn’t afford it. Eventually they did. I was so shocked – the States isn’t a third world country!
    I live in the Middle East in Qatar which is a third world country by the way, and I’m insured by my job as a journalist and also by my father’s job and even if I weren’t, everything is subsidised and it costs $40 dollars for a consultation. I fucking love the NHS and the only people who don’t are the ones who don’t need it.
    Because of the medical situation, I would never live in the States. I find it inhumane.

  • Angielovesobamacare

    My daughter has had Type I diabetes since she was 11. When she turned 24, she lost coverage through our employer policies and we were unable to afford insurance for her that was not even going to cover her most basic needs, So we spent over $400 a month for about 10 months to buy insulin (two kinds @ $90 a bottle) and test strips ($240 a box) on a credit card. When she was finally approved for a low-income prescription plan and her card came in the mail, I just sat and cried my eyes out. What were we supposed to do? Send her to the emergency room four times a day for her insulin shots? Great idea, Mitt Romney. Or maybe wait until she was in a coma and near death and then get treatment “because we don’t let people die.” She got married 10 months ago and will finally have her pre-existing condition covered on her husband’s plan in two months.

  • http://twitter.com/Fallen_Woman Fallen Woman

    I keep thinking I’m so lucky I don’t have anything chronic and then I remember, actually I do have a couple of preexisting conditions, they’re just not active right at this moment. But I do have to hope and pray they don’t become active again any time soon. The last time my mom paid for me and the doctor gave us a break (eye issues, very very lucky that I already know what to do, I just need a test and medicine and a little follow up care). I still ought to get glasses but I can get by with less-than-perfect vision; it still qualifies as 20/20.

    I had fantastic coverage when I worked full time. Unfortunately it was at the “plan B” job – the desk job with the 401K and paid vacations and insane anxiety which incited nearly continuous depression. I’m back to plan A now, stage managing and trying to break into voice acting. Most of the time there’s little difference between this and being straight up unemployed.

    On the one hand it’s nice that Obama’s health care package means I can’t be denied coverage for preexisting conditions, on the other hand it doesn’t set any caps at the same time that it’ll soon be mandatory that I get covered. However much the government subsidy is, is it really going to pay for the sure-to-be sky-high premium for my conditions? If I work even a little am I going to be expected to pay for it all myself? I keep thinking of my other mandatory insurance – for my truck – and thinking I struggle to be able to pay it but if I wanted (this would be a nightmare for me, but…) I could get rid of the truck. I can’t get rid of my health. what I wouldn’t give for universal health coverage. I hate toughing out toothaches and other bullshit when I know my body is just aging and I haven’t been to a doctor in over five years.

    I once tried to apply to Medicaid (California’s state coverage for people not yet eligible for Medicare (the US retirement health care)) and they told me that I would have to be permanently disabled, for example, blind. The funny/horrifying thing is, without going to the ophthalmologist and applying the proper (expensive) drugs I *will* go blind. Yay. FML.

    Incidentally, I translated one of the survey versions into Spanish. My Japanese isn’t strong enough to handle it yet but I was thinking of passing it along to a teacher to see if she could interpret it. Here’s the Spanish:
    Encuesta de seguranza de salud por @amandapalmer: 1 país 2 ocupación 3 está ensegurado? 4 cómo/no? cuanto paga Ud/empleador #insurancePoll

    Blame funny formatting on twitter character restrictions.

  • KatC

    I am so stunned at how today has gone. I spent last night reading these tweets, thinking about how as a single, disabled person with a rare disease (Cushing’s) I have struggled to get and keep the benefits that *are* provided (for now) for the very poor and very sick in the U.S. …and then first thing this morning, I got a call from my doctor saying that my MRI last week showed a different kind of brain tumor growing, and that I’m going to have to have radiation, the soonest they can get me in is in three weeks. It is too much to cope with, and there are so many gaps in the coverage I have, yet I am grateful to be so far below the poverty line that at least I qualify for more coverage than most people in this country. I still don’t have reasonable transportation to all these doctor’s appointments, I pay for therapy out of pocket, I don’t have things that would make a huge difference in my health, and now there is this to deal with too. I can’t make it make sense, and I feel so alone, until I read here of so many people for whom the fight to survive also ends up being more about logistics and money than about their health, which is where our energy should be spent. There is something terribly, terribly wrong about the ultimate costs in lives that finance the insurance (and pharmaceutical) industries. I am frightened when I think of what it will mean for me and so many others if this thin lifeline we do have gets pulled out from under us. If I lose the coverage I have, I will literally die. So will many, many others.

  • Alice

    I am from the UK. Nine years ago when I was 10 I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, its chronic, incurable, requires me to take 5 injections a day and slowly damages my body. That’s pretty life ruining but if I had to pay for my healthcare…well I don’t want to think about it. I need to use insulin, needles, blood sugar testing strips and lancet needles on a daily basis. I also need to use a blood sugar monitor, insulin “pens”, ketone testing strips, sugar tablets. I go to doctors check ups every three months – blood tests. If I was in the US how much would all that cost? I assume I couldn’t get insurance? And what would happen if I couldn’t afford it ? Would there be somebody to save me or would I just die as if they’d never discovered insulin? Thank fuck I live in the UK. Thank the NHS for saving my life.

    • Percy

      I often wonder about this too, Alice, as my boyfriend has type 1 diabetes. I’m so glad you and he are in the UK and the NHS provides such amazing free care. I hope to god the US has some kind of provision for people with type 1 and other chronic conditions – though judging by these experiences with pre-existing conditions it doesn’t. What happens to the children who are diagnosed with type 1 early on, who are either uninsured or on their parents’ insurance? Do their premiums increase? Are they kicked off those insurance plans? No civilised society lets this happen to people.

  • Isabel Teunis

    I just don’t know where to start on this, except with thanking you, Amanda, for getting all these stories on the table.

    I myself live in The Netherlands. We have mandatory health insurance, made more affordable by tax compensation according to income. I spend about a 100 euros a month on basic health care, and 40 more for additional coverage. I am entitled to a €70 compensation a month, so that’s not too bad. If I had only discovered this sooner, it isn’t really advertised!

    There are some limits and copays, and deductible is about to be raised to about €250. All kinds of hell are raised over this for it would prohibit low-income people (including me) from going to the GP. However, evidently this sum is PEANUTS compared to what you US folks have to cough up.I shudder to think that our government is seriously considering leaving health care prices to the market. They put this on trial with dental care, so dental prices have (predictably) skyrocketed instead of going down as the government supposed it would. Also vulnerable groups as mental health patients will have to pay more out of pocket, which will doubtless translate into more psychiatric patients on the street. We’ll see how all this will go, and I hope our ministers will cast an eye across the ocean to learn from you how NOT to do it.

    Meanwhile our system, despite all its flaws, places a large emphasis on preventative care such as assistance with quitting smoking, free HPV scans for women above 30 etc. There’s also room for alternative therapies such as massage and shiatsu (although the hugely popular homeopathy got kicked out recently), with additional coverage.

    And is all this based on a socialist/communist/Nazist point of view? NO, IT IS NOT I TELL YOU! As it happens, affordable health care was originally (back in the 60’s I think) seen as a Christian precept. Care for the sick and the weak just as Jesus told us to do, combined of course with Dutch business shrewdness: healthy workers are cheaper than sick ones. The socialists naturally were quite happy to recognize solidarity on whatever grounds, and so our welfare system was born.

    When I see Romney and his ilk bleating about Christian values and at the same time not caring one jot about the sick and the weak (because CARING would make them NAZIS obviously!) it turns my stomach. Even as a former Christian/present-day Pagan I feel insulted on behalf of Christianity.

    What breaks my heart even more than all these examples of crippling costs deeply affecting so many lives, are the stories of people actually DYING as a consequence. I read a heartbreaking tumblr a while back, in which a 20-year-old girl told how her father hid his serious heart problems because of money worries, and died in a traffic accident due to a heart attack. Which could have been prevented. Or the uninsured freelance writer whose case I read via Twitter I think, who wouldn’t go to the doctor with a back pain, because how serious could it be? She died of a heart attack, which manifests in women often as (upper) back pain.

    As an aside, I understand from these comments that premiums are often even higher for women. As I also know, 80% of heart attacks in women are not recognized because their symptoms differ from men’s. Women should therefore be ENCOURAGED to see their GP about seemingly small things, not prevented.

    Keep up the good work, I wish I could do more than wish you all the best of health!

  • http://www.facebook.com/amoffatt Annapurna Moffatt

    I’m not on Twitter, but here are my answers: 1. Canada. 2. University student/photographer. 3. Yes: covered under my parents’ plan (through my dad’s work), though once I turn twenty-six, which is two years away, the company will kick me off of my dad’s plan. 4. I don’t know the cost, but I do know that my dad has to pay into the plan.

  • jester68

    It seems like madness to me that large sections of the US population are happy to leave decisions about their health care to unaccountable, profit motivated companies. The Uk may have issues, no system is perfect, but at least we have the option to unelect the politicians if we don’t like what they’re doing with our health service.

  • lily_felix

    47, USA, self-employed, one kid. Chronic illness, easily managed with regular checkups, tests, and meds. Currently- 300/month for private insurance for me, plus hefty copays and deductible. Pay out of pocket for meds (about 100/month). Pay out of pocket for vision (lucky kid has perfect vision, unlike me) and mental health. Private dental for me and kid is only about 20/month but doesn’t cover much- more of a discount program. Kid has been covered by some form of state subsidized insurance, usually CHIP (thank you Clinton administration!) most of her life, goes to a free clinic for birth control, and once in a blue moon her father has a job that allows him to put her on his insurance for a few months. We just use whatever options are available at the time, try to stay healthy through diet and exercise, and keep our fingers crossed that nothing really bad comes our way.
    2 years ago, lived in a state where my insurance was also partially subsidized (they figured that parents of eligible kids might actually need to stay healthy to take care of their kids, imagine that!) : it meant far less anxiety, better selection of doctors and hospitals. (Still had to pay out of pocket for meds, dental, vision, mental health.) The current governor of that state did away with that program, leaving thousands of people with no affordable access to the leading hospital chain in the region. I don’t know what they do now.

  • http://www.ejly.net Eva Lyford

    The healthcare situation in this country is crazy. I was downsized while pregnant and therefore couldn’t qualify for insurance except cobra, which was pricey, and no one would hire me either. I qualified for unemployment benefits and kept looking for work to meet the eligibility requirement, but one look at my pregnant self and no one would hire me. I found out I could legally work part time to supplement benefits so took part time retail as that is all I could get while pregnant. The part time pay supplemented my unemployment benefit and allowed me to afford insurance. If I didn’t report to work I could lose the unemployment benefit due to inability to work and then I’d end up uninsured too as I’d have no money to pay for insurance. Plus I was still interviewing lots, but no takers. I worked until after my due date – last shift finished 18 hours before I was in labor. I was back on my feet working retail 6 days after giving birth. Remember that I would lose unemployment insurance benefits AND the pt job if I didn’t report to work or look for work, and without those I couldn’t afford cobra coverage. The cobra paid for the birth of my son. Thankfully he was healthy and I was strong enough to do this, but it was just a house of cards I built to make it through that time. In case you want to know: I have a master’s degree, had paid off my student debt, and was married when this happened. Being without health insurance or insurance-insecure can happen to anyone. Later I worked for an attorney who handled personal bankruptcies, and found most of his bankruptcy cases were due to medical bills. I wasn’t surprised.

  • tangerine37

    USA/Office Manager/Ins through husband (my office is too small to offer any), not sure how much we pay for family of 4

    I do know that we are incredibly lucky for the coverage we have – my youngest son was born premature and spent 6 full weeks in the NICU. We paid $500 for my part of the hospital stay (labor & delivery, room for 2 nights, etc) and $500 for his stay which alone cost upwards of $75,000. Sure a grand isn’t chump change, but we didn’t have to go into deep debt while worrying about our premie surviving, and I am thankful for that every day.

    The system is severely broken, and it’s not cost-advantageous to the insurance companies to fix it.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/KoleBigEars Kole
  • MCanadian2

    You have not only been touched by inspiration, but made that inspiration real. Kudos!

    (Not a Twitter’er. but have used the Canadian medical system extensively — 26 years of Crohn’s disease. Extended health insurance matters here too, luckily I have it right now.)

  • Ryan_Anas

    I really love that you are engaging people and talking about healthcare, both in the US as well as across the globe. There is no doubt that the healthcare system in our country is a system in dire need of some love.

    I was very fortunate to have grown up with health care. My parents were both school teachers and I never thought twice about healthcare as a sickly little child. 105 fever, strep throat, ear infections? No problem! After I graduated from college and became an educator myself, I was once again, covered. The cycle continues.

    But when the economy in my home state started to fail and I lost my job, I found myself uninsured for the first time in my life. Thankfully I am a healthy person, with few medical problems, but still, I was no longer able to afford my fancy breathing medication and had to rely on over the counter battery acid inhalers. And for the first time, every drive, every run, every risk was shadowed by a little bit of fear, of insecurity.

    So, for four years I substitute taught, waited tables, drained my savings, and prayed I wouldn’t break a bone and end up thousands of dollars in dept to hospitals for the rest of my life. One time I wiped out on my bike and prayed I wouldn’t need stitches. I can remember soaking my thumb in Epsom Salts and praying it wouldn’t get infected. These are small worries, I know, but it gave me a real perspective into the lives of those who are uninsured and have children or real medical concerns.

    In 2008 I started working as a Community Living Assistant to adults with developmental disabilities. I didn’t want to turn away from education, it wasn’t part of the plan, but after sweating health care for years, the promise of benefits was too tempting to turn up. After six months I finally qualified for insurance. My choices? I could either pay sixty-five dollars a week of my 350 salary for a plan in which I co-pay for Meds and care, or a Health Savings Account. This is a plan in which you transfer a fixed amount of your pay into a savings account and then use that money to pay for your care. You have to pay the full amount for all care and medications until you reach a yearly deductible. In 2008 it was $1000 dollars. Now it is up to $3000. So, if I break something or need any major care, the most I’ll owe is that much. That year.

    Am I covered? I don’t know. My job requires me to be very physical, so if I ever got ill and could no longer do my job, would I lose my coverage. Health is a human right, and access to healthcare is essential to the freedom of personal development. What kind of life would I be living if I never had to worry about healthcare? What dreams would I have followed if I didn’t feel the need to work a job in order to not fear personal injury of sickness sinking me into lifelong dept? I always feel unprepared for the future. The security of retirements and pentions and all of that just are not a reality for us gen y’ers. What then, will take the place of the old systems? Can we come together and take care of our people in America the way so many European countries seem to have done? Isn’t that the definition of a first world nation!?

    Healthcare in America is a business. At my job I am subjected to hours and hours of TV commercials. Cars and drugs. Cars and drugs. Every other add. If my butt hurts I don’t need a commercial to tell me I have a problem. “Oh, really cartoon bee? You mean I’m not supposed to have chronic butt pain!? I never knew!”, said no one ever! If you are sick, you go to a doctor, and they treat you. The end. Obama’s plan addresses these problems and many more to help keep the cost of healthcare down. I don’t think anyone has the perfect answer, but at least some effort is being made to transform healthcare in America from a billion dollar industry into what it should be: a social service and a basic human right available to every member of a humane society.

    Let’s love our health. Let’s bring together medicines of the east and the west, the innovation of American industry and the social compassion of Europe and Canada. It’s been over forty years since Abbey Road. Let’s just come together already!!

    And we have. You have brought together so many people and minds and stories in the past few days with the #InsurancePoll. This really the way. I love you for many many reasons, but your devotion to getting people to connect and discuss these issues is a true manifestation of the love you make and the love your community give back to you. Lets believe and love and feel and see health of all in the future. All my love.

    <3 Ry

    PS You make such an adorable Dr Who it makes my spleen sqeeeee!

  • Miss J

    I’m so glad that this insurance poll is being done. Maybe more attention will be brought to the situation and more efforts will go towards getting those who are uninsured or unable to afford insurance more assistance and aid.

    I’m terrified of what will happen when I become uninsured when I turn 26. Last year I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and the bowel obstruction and softball sized mass of inflamed intestine nearly killed me. I was bleeding internally and had abscesses all along sections of my small intestine. My medications without insurance cost thousands. One medication alone is $3,000. I’m 24 years old now, I was diagnosed at 23… Prior to diagnosis I dropped down to 97lbs. Crohn’s Disease in the terminal ileum (what I have) causes you to not absorb fats, nutrients or even water… I could never achieve more than 106lbs on my 5’8″ frame. I am still unable to work and still have not achieved remission. I have done multiple rounds of corticosteroids which have destroyed my skin and made my teeth rock in my skull, I’m now on chemotherapy to treat my disease and am rapidly losing my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. There is no cure for Crohn’s Disease nor any reasonably safe treatments really, you go in and out of remission and a flare can be triggered merely by stress. The drugs to treat Crohn’s can cost thousands, especially biologics like Remicade and Humira. I am already incapable of getting life insurance, so if I ever happen to have children I have no safety net for them if I should die. I am unlikely to be able to be insured again once my insurance lapses at 26 years old and if pre-existing conditions become an issue again with insurance providers.

    If I had been uninsured that day my bowel obstructed, I more than likely would have just stayed home and died. My doctors told me a day or two more at home and I’d of been gone. But if I had lacked insurance I would have worried that they would default on my parents once I could not pay the medical bills, as I still live with them (and as I’ve seen from attempting to receive financial aid from my hospital since I am still unable to work due to illness (nor have I been able to graduate college), they do in fact look into who you’re living with and will default on them… at least in my case.) Thankfully I was insured, if I had not been, my hospital stay alone was upwards of $22,000. That didn’t include the numerous medications I had to have, the procedures done, etc.

    I truly pray and hope for the best for those who are uninsured… It is a terrifying situation to be in. I’d been uninsured two years before my diagnosis, I’m just thankful that I was covered when I did end up nearly dying. Insurance shouldn’t be so exceedingly expensive that you have to pick between groceries/a mortgage payment and having a lower co-pay/less out of pocket for medical.

  • 6StringMercenary

    Hi Amanda,
    I want to share my insurance story with you, and more importantly, make it an open letter to the world regarding one very important topic, and one very foolish person who needs a bit of a reality check. What you have stumbled upon in the health insurance debate is something you are not equipped to handle, or frankly have any authority to be involved in – this is a big league subject with ties to politics you can’t begin to fathom, which means that it’s probably in your best interest to shut up and let mature adults take it from here. What gives me the right? The 6StringMercenary was born with Hemophilia, is grateful for his family’s insurance as a youth, and has had to make a lifetime of compromises to get to a professional career yet never leave music behind – if you wanted to learn a thing or two, well, this is your chance.
    As a handicapped person, music and the arts were some of the only avenues to find a community when the majority of the suburbs were focused on sports. There is a very strong recognition that having great health insurance and a stay at home Mother enabled my survival, my growth, and my maturation into adulthood. A Bachelor’s degree they helped with, but the Master’s was on my tab – yet they still assisted with COBRA from a financial standpoint. For the longest time, I was a dependent on their success, and that’s not how I was raised to live – “learn how to be employable and get health insurance,” that was their message time and time again. It worked; health has been valued! Important topic over.
    What looks like a great career at 30 years old to most non-disabled people and Hemophiliacs alike, it’s just not right. The life wanted, desired, worked upon in private is one of the arts – of music, filming, drawing, photographing, exploring – so even at the Fortune 100 level of “corporate sponsorship” still leaves something to be desired…but you know what? They pay my healthcare bills because I can’t afford them, and they underpay me because they can get away with it. What they don’t know is that I’d leave them in a heartbeat if the music thing finally caught traction – a once in a lifetime chance those closest to me in life would know was bound to finally happen…
    So, Amanda, when’s the last time you had to work at a job you would rather not do just to keep yourself alive and functioning so you could play music or be an artist? No, really. When did you punch a clock, have work-dreams about being chewed out over a typo or something that really seems small but sticks in the paw like a thorn? Sit down for a minute or nine.
    When I first came across your name, it was because of the Kickstarter success for the album, not because of your music or art or anything else. Later, I caught wind of the “beer or hugs but not both” method of compensation for horn sections while on the road – major props to the Seattle union for calling you out on that by the way – and still, I was silent. Sure, you did get your start in a niche market and land a major label backing with the Dresden Dolls, but the way you describe your break-up with them makes it sound like they were just ready to flush you like the evidence of a 17 year old making a bad decision.
    For you to think that jumping into the health insurance conversation is in any way appropriate, well, it’s time for a reality check. In the grand tradition of the good doctor HST, I’ve got my whisky, cigarettes and plenty of meat on an axe to grind. Oh, and my apology in advance if my traditional approach to writing involves rational capitalization and punctuation – like I said, I have a real job and need to act like a professional for most of the time. If you get a headache from this, go start a Kickstarter campaign for some Adderall.
    The discussion about health insurance isn’t a single-issue vote kind of thing, child, it’s a very difficult web of commerce, anthropology and economics. You are an adult approaching 40 years of age who married a millionaire and still asks people to do things for free. You know what, it seems like your whole model is a cropped rip-off of people better and more creative than you.
    That’s right, people line up to compliment your fan interaction, and yet you’ve got nothing on somebody like Buckethead. His fan interaction concept of limited and personalized materials is pretty similar to what you want to do, but with about 40 percent mark-up because you can’t sit down with a calculator. Honestly, did you even read your own summary of accounting for the Kickstarter campaign? Buy a Webster and learn the difference between qualitative and quantitative…or don’t, it’s not like your fans care…
    Your husband is a multimillionaire, right? And you noted in your Kickstarter campaign video that you wanted to turn a profit, right? Well, I think the 6StringMercenary has an opinion:
    Fuck you, fuck your husband, fuck your fans and you need to shut the fuck up. I’ve lived my life just trying to hang on to music as the grounding for life, for love and for the future – everything about you makes me want to hate you because you’re fake, a hypocrite, and always trying to score attention or cash.
    Shut up when it comes to serious things. Adults are here trying to make ends meet, take care of their health and do something important without knowing they can go home to security; our tracks will always be better than yours. You’re not the future of music, because in the future of music the musician isn’t begging for money off their fans and getting fucked by a millionaire at home at the same time. Reality check over.

    • http://twitter.com/lunamoth42 Luna

      Really? That’s your response to someone you don’t agree with? Telling them to “shut up”? THAT is your “adult” response? I wouldn’t accept that from a 4-year-old, let alone a self-proclaimed adult.

  • Cat

    I was absolutely horrified to learn that people with pre-existing conditions are regularly denied insurance. Here in Australia, if I decided to purchase health insurance, I may have a higher monthly cost or be subject to a waiting period but its my chronic health conditions that make me eligible for such extensive Medicare assistance.

    Through the Australian government I receive cheap prescriptions, cheap dental (through a private dentist and oral surgeon, would be free if I went to a clinic), free doctors appointments, free surgery and hospital stays, free/cheap therapies (like psychology & physio) and I have access to government pensions/payments if I’m too sick to work.

  • Phil

    I’m from the UK, and had read about the american healthcare system before with all the horror stories that entails. I had always assumed we were just hearing about the exceptions and the ones who had odd circumstances and/or fell through the cracks. I knew there were big problems with it, but I think most people from outside the US just assume it cannot really be as bad as it is, it’s the USA! In the 21st century for goodness sake!

  • Anita

    I read the original story about this but reading the comments on here has me even more floored. As an Australian I have access to free healthcare no matter how much money I earn. I choose to have private insurance which I pay for myself as it is affordable for me. I have a chronic disease which is incurable, a few years ago I was given a treatment which costs in the thousands of $$. Because I have private insurance it was delivered in a private hospital but the treatment itself was subsidised by the goverment, there’s no other way I could have had it otherwise.
    I can not understand how free public healthcare = the end of life as we know it. Surely it is one of the marks of a civilised society to care for those unable to care for themselves?

  • Phil

    And anyway, surely a little extra tax being paid for a NHS style service would be far less than the ridiculous amounts I hear people paying for insurance in the US. You guys are paying $400 a month?! that’s almost as much as rent in some places!

  • http://twitter.com/UKMelia Melia

    Is it too late to share my insurance story? This poll definitely struck a nerve with me – but I have to say reading that I’m not alone in my struggles with it has been therapeutic.

    I’m a single mom, I live in Nebraska (which would love to have you perform here sometime ;), I have a good job I love but it barely pays enough to cover the main bills and I usually opt not to add health insurance when the time comes because of cost and probably a little bit of stupidity in the hope that since I’ve always been healthy, I could last until I made enough dosh to afford it. Except this year, I almost died. Severe pancreatitis coupled with renal failure, blood clots and sudden cysts kept me in the hospital for three months this year. Three months of tests, surgeries, CT scans, poking prodding – basically 3 months of hell.

    I’m out now and back to normal thank goodness, apart from scars all over my body, but now I’m in lack-of-insurance hell where I owe far more money than I’ll ever be able to repay in my lifetime. And so it looks like bankruptcy is on my horizon. I would make myself sick worrying about it before all this happened, but right now, I’m just thinking, I could be fucking dead now, so quit worrying. Helps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1644102926 Bill McNutt

    Every time I see the word “free” it makes my eyeballs itch. None of this is FREE. The taxpayers are paying for it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/regebro Lennart Regebro

    I have stories to share, ooh, boy. But I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to expand on that people don’t know how it is in other countries. Not only don’t they know how bad it is in the US, they often don’t know how bad or how good it is in their own country.

    Loads of people in Sweden actually think Swedish health care is good, for example. And it is, if you get it. But usually you don’t. It’s state-owned, and run mostly with the principle of avoiding costs by avoiding treatment. The result is that we have a health care that is the best in the word when you look at certain statistics, but at the same time Sweden is the sickest country in the world, with loads of people on more or less permanent sick leave, because they don’t get treatments.

    In France there is a lot of complaints about the health care system. Mainly that it is expensive, this despite it not being really that much more expensive than Swedens, and it is much much cheaper than the system in the US, works beautifully, everyone has access, it’s completely free for students, etc. And they complain that there aren’t many doctors in the countryside and poor areas. Well… duh! It’s like complaining that there are no fancy restaurants close by when you live in the slum. French people simply don’t know how good they have it with health care.

    And US citizens know their health care sucks, but they don’t understand why. Often they think it’s because it’s private, which isn’t true. The problem is really that the insurance companies decides about your health care, when it should be you and the doctors. And hospitals are allowed to charge differently depending on if you have health care or not, which gives the absurd effect that you, personally, can need to pay *more* if you *have* insurance.

    The US system is broken. The french system (which they also have in Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Switzerland in different variations) is not, and health care in those countries work fine. The US should try to move towards such a system.

    And that system is: Everyone has health insurance. Everyone. It’s not opt-out or opt-in or compolsury or anything. It’s something everyone has. In the countries above, the health insurance is state-run. For historical reasons in the US this might be difficult to achieve, but a system with vouchers should work as well, or better, so that the state pays for the insurance buy you choose which company to use. Health care institutions should be private, so there is competition. You should be able to buy your medication from Canada, or Mexico, or wherever you want, and still get it payed via the insurance, so the ridiculous prices on medication in the US stops.

    Do that, and you’ll get good health care. As I understand it Romney-care is a step towards this. Obama-care is not. Too bad he is a dick. But to be honest it might be worth four years with a dick just to get a better health care system.

  • http://twitter.com/healthythinker healthythinker

    LOVE back at you. Thx for launching this poll. I’m off to ‘vote’ on Twitter. #Healthcare4all

  • matthew James

    Australia is really, in all honesty, not that far behind the US. yes we have medicare. but you can wait anywhere up to 7 hrs just to be seen in an emergency department at a local public hospital. very few General Practitioners bulk bill (where your consultation fee is sent straight to medicare the national health car ebody and the patient pays no out of pocket expense) and affordable dental and mental health care is non existent. yes we have medicare, sure, but it’s slowly, just like the NHS being privatised to the point where we i believe will have an american system within the next 20-50 years

    case in point: myself. i am 28 and part time employed but with enough of an income to get private insurance. however, i have a pre-existing condition that prevents me from being eligible. unless i choose to go on a public system waiting list i am looking at private fees of almost 25 thousand dollars to have a private surgical procedure that could save my life and my eyesight (i have a brain tumour on my optic nerve) i can’t afford it and my neurologist told me i could be waiting for up to 6-8 MONTHS to go on an elective surgery waiting list (my condition is benign so is considered non urgent) i am constantly monitored and it is entirely possible that the type of tumour i have could become cancerous. so basically i pay 25 grand i don’t have or i run the risk of permanent disability or dying.

    also.. my father was insured via his work and whilst we were under his care we were insured with him but once my brother and i moved out he could no longer insure us as we weren’t considered dependents.

    there is ABSOLUTELY no reason australia cannot provide free public health care by well paid trained professionals to ALL its citizens. we seem to have ample amounts of money for other needless resources.

  • matthew James

    sorry i know some will disagree re: australia.. but this is what i’m finding.

  • Joreth

    I haven’t had health insurance in 10 years. I am a freelance video & lighting technician for the live entertainment industry. That means that none of the companies I work for offer insurance and I’d have to get it as a single person. I used to have some program with the union, but a friend of mine who had been in the union for years got a brain tumor, and the union refused to pay out, so I lost my trust in that. I just assumed that I would never be able to access it even if I needed it. And then I stopped working for the union, so I lost even that.

    Every year for the past 6 years I get a cough that lasts for 6 months. It has all the symptoms of whooping cough (which I contracted when I was 19), but I have no idea what it actually is. It could be whooping cough, or it could be bronchitis, or it could be something else. I don’t know because I can’t afford any tests to find out.

    Every year I go to a clinic called Shepherd’s Hope, a volunteer clinic staffed by volunteer doctors one evening a week in a borrowed facility. They prescribe me some antibiotics & send me on my way (assuming it’s one of the times I actually get in to be seen – you have to arrive hours early and hope you got there soon enough to be within the limit of patients they have time to see that night. I often go back week after week before I’m able to get in). I can’t tell if the antibiotics help or not because it’s usually close to the end of my 6 months before I actually get in to be seen, and no matter when I take the antibiotics, it seems to end at about 6 months.

    Last year, I was told by Shepherd’s Hope that I had been there too many times and that they would not see me anymore. I was told that I needed a GP because I required “so much care”. They sent me to another facility, and because I was referred by SH, I didn’t have to pay them. But now I’m afraid to go again in case I lose that avenue of help also.

    I make good money, but I don’t work every week. Hell, I don’t work every month. I make enough money when I do work that I can afford to rent a room in someone’s house and pay my cell phone bill (the lowest plan I could find) and I can live off the paychecks from the months that I do work, with a little help from unemployment every so often. I could get “a real job”, except it wouldn’t be in my field – the field that I have a degree in and that I have specialized in for 20 years.

    Only, I can’t get a “real job” because there aren’t any to be found. I’ve applied. In addition to my chosen field, I also have experience in computers, administrative offices, and sales. Yet I couldn’t even get hired at the Halloween store that opened up just for the season. There are too many people looking for work and not enough jobs to go around. Since I have been a freelancer for a decade, I don’t even have any recent employment “references” because I work for myself & I have clients, not employers.

    Every year, I worry that this is the year that cough will kill me. I will suffocate in my sleep, or it will turn into pneumonia and I’ll drown from the fluid in my lungs. Every year I worry that I will get sick and can not afford to go to the hospital or see a doctor. That I will put off the doctor’s visit until I collapse from something and then someone else will make the decision for me, and I’ll awake in the hospital with a huge hospital bill and the news that some disease has progressed too far – that if they just had caught it earlier I could have been saved but now it’s too late.

    Every year I worry that I will be injured at work, and although worker’s comp will cover that injury, I then won’t be able to work anymore and I won’t have any income. Every year I worry that I won’t have enough money to pay for my cat’s medication and that I’m condemning them to the same fate as me. Every year I worry that I will leave behind a mountain of medical debt for my parents to deal with, who are now on a fixed income themselves and retired.

    I have also considered marrying for health insurance. It’s still an option, if I find anyone willing to do it. I do know a few people, but it would require a move for me to towns that don’t have as much work, so I’d be trading my more-or-less livable income for no income & health insurance. It’s a shitty trade-off. And I’m one of the “lucky” ones, because all I have is a cough.

  • http://twitter.com/evilforestgnome diana

    I have actually been very lucky when it comes to insurance. Husband used to work for the California State Legislature and we had access to excellent health insurance plan for State employees. Wisdom teeth removal, upper GI biopsy, OBGYN appointments, etc were all paid for by his employer. I was forced to relocate for work and he had to quit job. Now we have a not so nice, but cheap ($29/month) HMO plan through the University of California system. I haven’t needed to use them yet, being that I’ve only been with them for two months, but it took them a month after I signed employment paperwork to acknowledge I even had health care so I take it as a bad sign.

    I’ve spent some time in Europe for work and Austria>> USA. The institute I am working with has mandatory free yearly exams including full blood pannel, etc. There is also PAID maternity leave for 6 month. (My job at the UC offers 3 months with no pay…fucking ridiculous.) Also, this past summer in Vienna I saw a homeless girl limping onto the subway with no shoes and presumably a broken leg. Two days later, she had made it back to the same subway station, this time with crutches and a full cast. That would NEVER happen in US. Pretty sure Romney and company would rather shoot her than get her medical care. Go capitalism.

    Enjoy your time here in Austria. I love it. I’m actually flying back to the states two days before your concert. Super sad to be missing it!

  • Johnanchovie

    While the United States of America is filled with beautiful people like you, the people that seem to control the administration of its people tend to cause me quite some revulsion. In this modern land of such insane wealth and power it is a travesty that those that determin these things refuse to provide this fundamental component to the social fabric. My dearest hope is that those elitist voices that maintain this unjust status quo will be overwhelmed by voices the likes of yours.

  • AbeilleZ

    US/Librarian/Yes/$362 for me + husband. 570 days in hospital=$100 for Medicare 2nd ins+bills+little food on the table.

    Here is my story.

    I am a young professional with a Masters Degree and I have a good job in my field. I pay approximately $362 each month for good insurance for me and my husband.

    In early 2011 my husband walked in the hospital and didn’t come out for 570 days. He arrived home the day before my 30th birthday just a couple of months ago. Yes, I said five hundred and seventy days. And he still isn’t well.

    During this period of time I found out he also qualifies for Medicare even though he isn’t 65+. So he has Medicare as a second insurance and I pay $100 per month for it. I barely get that much back in benefit because our primary insurance is so good. But it does help some at the beginning of the year before we hit the maximum out-of-pocket.

    Other medical bills and prescriptions also add up to a hefty cost each month. Plus I am managing normal household expenses like rent, utilities, food. I barely have enough money to make ends meet. I feel so guilty even when getting my haircut or buying a new pair of (not worn out) pants on sale but I know I have to. I’m a professional and need to look like it.

    Recently I went to an aid office to see if we qualify for medical/rehabilitation assistance or food stamps. We do not. I make too much. The premium for medical assistance is actually more money than I take home each month. Tell me how that makes sense. The aid worker told me that we would be better off if my husband and I got a divorce. Because he is bedridden and unable to work he would get every bit of aid available. I think my heart cracked in half right there. I left the office despondent. I am not sacrificing my marriage because of a broken system. I wanted to scream at all the baby mamas in line holding Coach purses.

    Thanks to the insurance we will not be permanently overwhelmed financially. My credit score is still reasonable. We did not have to file bankruptcy. We get to keep our dream of owning our first home, that is if my husband ever recovers. In my heart I know that if we did not have such good insurance my husband would not have gotten such good care.

    We trudge on day after day. I budget the best I can and pay the bills I need to. I try not to let financial stress ruin my days.

  • Mary

    Had a secret wedding a few months before our big wedding so I could get my husbands insurance. Wish I had done it sooner. That was four years ago, I still wouldn’t be insured now due to costs. I work as a barista and a manager. Barely make enough as it is.
    On a positive note my Mom in Law recieves free cancer care for VHL at NIH (Bethesda, MD) Her insurance can’t know she has the disease, or she would never get covered. All her treatments are done through NIH’s research program. She is in all the medical textbooks on VIH and Cochlear Implants.

  • http://twitter.com/Health4Nsics Health4Nsics

    What is sad is that as I read all the comments it seems very few are willing to take the high road and become more repsonsible for their own health. I have seen a raft of changes in health care during the many years of my career as a nurse practitioner since the late 60s. This is one reason why I specialize in nautral health (50+ years of study and use).

  • Patrick

    I actually dropped my insurance. It’s FAR cheaper for me not to have it. It costs me ~$250/month and then won’t cover more than 2 office visits a year. So I was paying $250 a month and if my doctor wanted a follow up visit in two weeks I had to pay out of pocket ( $91 per instance) for the follow up. SOOO not worth it. You must also remember that a government health program is NOT FREE. It is PAID FOR BY YOUR NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS. Your healthcare is your responsibility, my healthcare is my responsibility. I should never be FORCED BY TAXATION to pay for yours and you should never be forced to pay for mine.

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  • Marzipans11

    I don’t have Twitter (and yes, I’m 8 months behind on blogs… sheesh) can I pretty please share my insurance story too??
    1) USA 2) Part-time suicide hotline worker 3) Yes 4) Private, not through job. Was on my dad’s at $200/month until I turned 26 (hooray Obamacare!), now on a private United plan for $125 a month. Going onto my husband’s insurance would have been almost double that– $300 for the two of us. He’s paying $100 for himself.

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