Friday, September 4, 2009

Health Insurance For the 'Well, Well-Off and Well-Connected'

I attended a healthcare rally earlier this evening in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. About 400 enthusiastic people came out to voice their support for reform at the Allen Chapel AME church.

One by one, Middle Tennesseans bravely took the stage and shared with the audience their heartbreaking testimonies. One man who contracted shingles last year told a story about how the infection spread to his eye. Fortunately, a doctor gave him a free 30-day prescription for contacts. Unfortunately, he had to wear them for seven months because he couldn't afford the monthly cost for a new pair.

Another sad story came from a tearful girl who still has a lump in her arm that has gone unexamined and untreated for months. The insurance coverage that would normally subsidize the care she needs far exceeds her budget as a working college student. Every one of these Tennesseans are employed, most of them full-time, but still unable to afford the insurance premiums available to them.

To the point. Despite the narrative that right-wing squabblers have been telling over the last month, many Americans who are uninsured do have full-time jobs, just like those who spoke at tonight's rally.

There were no Republican protesters screaming in anger, "Get a job! Buy your own insurance!" although they have been quite effective in controlling the message war on several fronts, including this one: Uninsured = Unemployed.

Look at the chart below from the Kaiser Family Foundation. There's a clear correlation between those working Americans whose incomes are near the federal poverty level and others whose incomes are much higher. If you're a young American attending college who's been dropped from a COBRA plan, there's a strong chance you are uninsured because you can't afford coverage. Thousands of others who've recently lost their jobs as a result of the Bush Recession may be finding work as servers, bartenders, bellmen and cashiers, but they still can't afford the sky-high premiums offered by their employers.

The conclusion? As one supporter this evening said, "You can afford insurance in this country if you are well, well off and well-connected." Here's proof.

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