No One Should Die For Lack of Health Care

Personal Health

This remarkable viral campaign on Facebook has a very simple message. It happens to be the one that Harris Wofford rode to a Senate victory over a well-funded Republican opponent prior to the 1992 elections. It's what Bill Clinton pretty much ran on during those 1992 elections. It's an appeal to basic American fairness, and it's worked over and over again.


No one should die because they cannot afford healthcare. No one should go broke because they get sick, and no one should be tied to a job because of pre-existing condition. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.

Before the day was out yesterday, Barack Obama had posted this message on his Facebook page, along with tens of thousands of others. It distills the entire debate about health care into something simple. An individual's health care should not be based on an individual's available funds. It's a winning message.

Except this message is exactly what's being bargained away, if reports are correct, in the latest round of capitulations.

Patrick Gilbert, an uninsured lumber company worker in upstate New York, is in a predicament that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats believe they can solve. Gilbert and his wife have two children, but he says that on his family's $50,000 annual income, he can't afford the $600 monthly premiums for his employer's coverage.

"If I could find some reasonable insurance for about $100 a month, then I would do that," says Gilbert, 38, a lymphoma survivor who lives near Lake Placid. "Something reasonable, not with high deductibles. Something fair."

The House's health overhaul proposal would allow Gilbert to obtain family coverage for $250 a month, with the government picking up the rest of the premium costs. While that subsidy would make insurance more affordable for Gilbert, he could still be stuck with huge medical bills if he or his family members got seriously ill. In the worst case scenario, Gilbert could end up paying $4,400 in co-insurance and deductibles on top of $3,000 in annual premiums -- adding up to 15 percent of his family's income.

Concern about the legislation's cost has overshadowed a major worry among some policy experts: Whether the Democrats' plans would protect low- and moderate-income earners from excess financial burdens, as backers have promised.

Under the House proposal, people receiving government subsidies could still end up spending 20 percent or more of their annual incomes on premiums, deductibles and co-insurance, according to estimates prepared by the House Committee on Ways and Means and obtained by Kaiser Health News. That financial load could grow substantially if the proposal's financing -- $1 trillion over a decade -- is pared back as congressional leaders come under pressure to reduce the legislation's costs.

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