Improving Health Coverage for All Americans
HealthCentral's experts are writing about major health issues for the 2008 presidential election. Add your comments--and watch for more opportunities to come.
Health insurance coverage for all Americans is my top priority and I hope it is on the minds of the presidential candidates. As a parent of a child with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) and asthma, I know first hand how important it is to have access to health insurance.
Comprehensive health insurance coverage for all Americans should include:
o medical insurance for all Americans regardless of employment status
o restrictions on the costs of premiums and co-pays
o an emphasis on patient education and preventive care to reduce costs and increase positive health outcomes
When my daughter was struggling with significant medical complications from acid reflux, our two-income family unexpectedly became a one-income family so I could stay home full time to take care of her. That greatly decreased our income at a time when our medical bills and out-of-pocket health care expenses were very high. One year, my daughter had 50 doctor's appointments or clinic visits and 75 prescription refills. Even with excellent health care coverage, the co-pays placed a terrible financial strain on our family. Thankfully we still had full medical insurance to cover her ongoing medical care and hospitalizations.
Other families I know have not been so fortunate. One mother called me in desperation because she could not find childcare for her baby with severe reflux but she had to go back to work to continue the medical insurance coverage. Another parent told me her family medical expenses for premiums, doctor's visits and prescription co pays were equal to one half of the monthly mortgage on their home. They refinanced their house and maxed out their credit cards, but they fell further and further behind.
Families caring for a child with a chronic illness or an elderly family member are faced with a tremendous caretaking burden in addition to health care expenses. An adult with a chronic or life threatening illness may face decreased employment or the inability to work. Health care insurance needs to cover those working full time, part time and those staying home to care for a family member.
There has to be a better way to finance medical insurance coverage. It is clear that medical insurance premiums and co-pays keep increasing steadily with no end in sight. Many chronic illnesses such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease require long term care and lifestyle changes to reduce or eliminate complications. A health care policy with an emphasis on patient education and prevention of disease and complications would lead to better overall health and reduced costs.
I believe all Americans would be healthier with full access to medical care.