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The Health Care Crisis: Letters From VT and America (Sen Sanders)

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July 09, 2009 – Comments (6)

I (Vt Sen Bernie Sanders) sent an email to my Senate mailing list requesting support for a single-payer Medicare-for-All system, and for personal stories describing the problems people are having with their health care coverage. Within a few weeks, some 40,000 people signed the single-payer petition and more than 4,000 sent in their personal stories. I want to thank all of those who responded.

I collected some of the letters in a booklet, “The Health Care Crisis: Letters from Vermont and America.” In poignant and heartbreaking terms, the letters describe the pain and outrage that people are experiencing within our dysfunctional health care system...

Sen Bernie Sanders

Date Posted: 06/22/2009

I pay $12,000+/yr for family health care insurance. I have what many would consider good health coverage. We are also a pretty healthy family and don't go to the doctor much or use many of those health care insurance dollars. However, when we do need it, we face a nightmare of double and triple billings for medical services that should be covered. Expenses we are told are not covered or require a new deductible that wasn't present before. Re-billing and re-billing with the apparent hope we will pay rather than try to figure out the labyrinth billing system. It has taken us literally years to straighten some bills out with our insurance company. Talk about choice --we are restricted to the doctors "in system". Unless we can get prior approval to see a doctor "out of system" we are out of luck -- it is not covered.
Peter,
Lexington, Ky.



My younger brother, a combat decorated veteran of the Vietnam conflict, died three weeks after being diagnosed with colon cancer. He was laid off from his job and could not afford cobra coverage. When he was in enough pain to see a doctor it was too late. He left a wife and two teen aged sons in the prime of his life at 50 years old. the attending doctor said that if he had only sought treatment earlier he would still be alive.
Jim,
Swanton, Vt.



I have been a health care lawyer for 30 years working with physicians and hospitals on regulatory and contract matters. The administrative costs and time they spend on billing all the insurance companies and dealing with denied claims and coordination of coverage is extremely wasteful. This time and money could be better spent providing health care.
Nancy,
Philadelphia, Pa.

No question, just a statement. I am a physician and I cannot continue to practice with the current insurance system. I am spending up to 2 hours a day on the phone or writing to insurance companies for prior authorizations for medications or services.

Roberta,

N. Bennington, VT

 

I just want to say what anyone on Medicare will say, Medicare is a single payer insurance, and it works much better that the "private" insurer I had before! Enough talk about "socialized" medicine. People that we know in Canada have nothing but good things to say about their health care system. It is past time for Americans to enjoy the same kind of care!
Debra,
Deming, N.M.

 

I will be 65 this year and would like to retire but there is just no way my husband and I can be without insurance. Almost half of my paycheck goes to pay for this insurance, from a job that pays under $23,000 a year. The average man and woman of America need help. I have worked all my life and have paid into social security and Medicare for many years. Why can't I retire in peace with the knowledge that when we need medical coverage the most, and have paid for it, we will have it?

Nancy,

W. Burke


I recently had to take a friend of mine to the ER. He had been suffering severely debilitating dizziness & vertigo for several weeks, so bad that on several days he could not go downstairs to the kitchen for food. He had finally managed to see his doctor the previous day. She recommended that he see 2 specialists to find the cause of the vertigo. He told her that he was on disability and his insurance would only cover visits to a primary physician, not a specialist. She then suggested that he go to an ER in order to get the tests he needed.  I knew he had no other option, so I offered to take him. He hated to do it, since he had no hope of ever paying the bills, but his life could quite literally have been at stake, so we went. It was incredibly costly & wasteful for him to receive absolutely necessary care in this fashion. We even discussed which local hospital could best absorb the loss before we decided where to go. The system is sinking, and God help those without a raft.
Crystal,
Springfield, Va.



In 1992, when I was between jobs and could not afford COBRA I had severe pain but did not go to the doctor because I had no insurance. I had appendicitus which because of my delay required 2 reconstructive surgeries that put me $25,000 in debt.
Lewis,
Putney, Vt.



I am paying more than $3,200 per month for our high deductible family plan--Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ. It costs more than I earn and so we have to use our IRA money to pay for it . My husband left me and is getting a divorce because he is sick of paying "my Cadillac health insurance that has not resulted in me getting any better."
Marsha,
Princeton, N.J.



My husband is being treated for high blood preasure and high cholesteral.  He has a doctor he likes and trusts but this doctor just dropped out of our insurance plan. His reason? Too much red tape when dealing with billing this company which happens to be Blue Cross, one of the more respected insurance companies. We are being told that single payer is not good because we may not be able to chose our doctors, but we can't even keep the doctor of choice with our current plan.  Also with the current uncertainty of both our jobs, I with the airlines, and his in retail, I fear being unemployed in the future and being without any healthcare.
Bonnie,
Brookfield, Ill.


I need a colonoscopy every 5 years. This year, I need to do it. My wife needs one too. We are insured by BC/BS, and these procedures are not covered and beyond what we can afford, so we are not getting them. It is a bit like Russian roulette, and we know it, but times are tough, and we can't afford it. We need help because we are under-insured. Please help!
Brian,

S. Pomfret, VT

Recently I passed out from a week long illness. I fell and hit my head so hard I had three seizures. When I came to, I was in a hospital and owed $31,500 dollars for treatment. I can't go back to get additional treatment I need because I have no health insurance. I have always been healthy until now. At this point I must declare personal bankruptcy. I'm an unemployed IT worker with 10 years work experience.
Michael,
St. Louis, Mo.



I am self-employed and my wife is chronically ill. Medical expenses, including insurance, are our largest monthly bill -- bigger than food, housing, anything. What's more, in the last year our insurer (VT Blue Cross Blue Shield) has repeatedly tried denying payment for services… It is clearly the insurance companies' policy to try denying coverage as often as possible, for any reason or no reason, and then to give in and pay when someone fights back hard enough and long enough. People who are too sick or inexperienced or uneducated to fight that hard get stuck with the bill -- which translates directly into income for the insurer. In a for-profit healthcare insurance system, this is totally logical. Money is made by denying care, not giving it -- how else?

Larry,
Sharon, Vt.



I am currently unemployed but even when I was employed, I could not afford insurance for myself let alone my wife and three boys. I am 49 years old. I haven't been to a doctor is 15 years. If I get sick... I do over the counter. I've gotten cut and actually sewed up the injury with a needle and thread myself. Sad but true.
Harold,
Bristow, Okla.


After having breast cancer in 1988, I found it impossible to obtain health care insurance because of a "pre-existing condition". My husband quit his partnership in a law firm and took a job with a national accounting firm so that I could receive good health coverage.
Jana,

Adamant, VT

I am a retired rail worker. I had United Health Care. Not a year past when at least one of my family's claims were disputed or denied. The most common denial was that the doctor's bill was excessive for my area Montana.  It was never true but I was defrauded nonetheless. Medicare has been wonderful for me. I know it is possible to get a raw deal from any bureaucracy, public or private. The big difference is that the government is not intentionally trying to screw me.
Edward,
Kalispell, Mont.



I can tell you a story about a beautiful, intelligent, hard working small business owner who died because she couldn't afford to buy health insurance for her family nor her employeess. She was 53 and I will never forgive my county for allowing the greed of the insurance companies to limit her opportunity for preventable healt care. A colonscopy at 50 would have saved her life.
Teresa,
Eagle, Idaho


When my wife was pregnant, she had a bad reaction to medication used to help her through the nausea of morning sickness. She could not breathe, suffered immobility, and we were both frightened. I took her as fast as I could to the nearest emergency room. This emergency room was not "covered" by my insurance, and I had to pay $1400 out of pocket for the visit.  Later, when my company switched insurance plans, my wife's OB GYN was not "covered" by the new plan. We had to drop a doctor that we respected and trusted, the doctor who delivered my son, simply because he was not "covered" by an insurance plan.  Why must we make these choices? We were convinced my wife's very life was in danger, so we went to the nearest medical facility, and were penalized for it. We had to drop the doctor we knew, trusted, and indeed loved because some company arbitrarily did not cover his services. These are decisions that go to the very core of our existence - why must we put these decisions into the hands of corporations motivated by profit?
Scott,
Mount Hope, Kan.


I am 66 and looking at health plans. I still work and insure my husband and myself. The first thing that slapped me in the face was: The $2,700.00 cap for percriptions each. My husband is on two types of Insulin and will eat that up fast. Then I will have to pay for Insulin the rest of the year. I am too frightened to retire! How do people deal with all of this? Why can't Insurance companies work to help people?
Anne,
Medford, N.J.

(Support for H.R.676 can be expressed to yuor Congressman at 202 244 3121)

6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 09, 2009 at 1:25 PM, devoish (97.62) wrote:

Date Posted: 06/19/2009

The experience I had was consulting on a child who had lived at the local Children's Hospital for 8 years after she developed spinal meningitis at age 6 months in 2002. Her mother was informed that she could not get a job or the little girl would lose her Medicaid coverage, and no company would give the girl insurance coverage because of her pre-existing condition. The mother abandoned her in the hospital.  She was cognitively intact when I asked her if the hospital was her home. She assured me that "Nobody lives in a hospital. Everybody goes home someday".
Maureen,
Austin, Texas



I'm active duty military. I have served in the Air Force for almost 13 years now. I have "government" medical coverage, I may have minor complaints here and there but over all I would say that it's a good system. Seeing how much money my parents pay for health care makes my blood boil. I fail to see the difference between the insurance companies and a mugger who holds a gun to your head demanding "your money or your life." On the flip side of that, my sister and her husband who live just outside of Toronto. They have a special needs child and all of their medical needs are taken care of.
Joshua,
Danby, Vt.



When I couldn't afford insurance a few years ago, at age 38, I ended up with an infected gallbladder. I'm very healthy; very active, but inherited a faulty organ. I'm now tens of thousands of dollars in debt.  I will never own my own home. I will never have good credit. Not because I shopped too much, or spent beyond my means, but because I almost died in a freak situation when I had no health insurance. Every day I'm hounded by bill collectors who are threatening and mean, causing that much more stress in my daily life of work, mothering, trying to get by. I don't even have the available money to try and file bankruptcy -- if the current laws would even let me. Once again, the system is set up to reward the wealthy institutions and absolutely destroy citizens.
Erin,
Alameda, Calif.



Based on my former work as a Social Security claims rep I believe we need Medicare for all, Medicare as it is now. Many doctors do not accept Medicaid. Medicaid does not cover many things people truly need. People die or become sicker because they have to wait or can't even get the care they need. Single payer Medicare for all, nothing less.
Shirley,
Greenview, Ga.



After an injury I was unemployed, partially disabled and now am broke and mired in medical bills. Bill collectors call every day. My wife and I both have "pre-existing conditions," which in Washington State does not preclude you for getting insurance, it just makes it expensive beyond belief and has huge deductibles. Often we are forced to choose between getting her prescriptions and paying a utility. To renew her prescriptions (every 3 months) we need to go to the doctor and pay him the equivalent of a week and a half worth of our food budget.  Likely we will be forced to file bankruptcy because of the medical bills. 3 years ago I had a good job, insurance and some money in savings. Now we are broke, riddled with debt and just trying to keep the lights on. At 51, this was not how I envisioned spending my "Golden Years".
Gareth,
Lynden, Wash.



I worked as a registered nurse in hospitals for 31 years. I had to retire early due to my health. I cannot get any kind of health insurance because of "pre existing conditions." Thanks for the high blood pressure from a stressful job.
Susan,
Pinole, Calif.



I am originally from Canada and see the effects of the American system's failures every day. I've had great care from my employer, but at a direct cost to me and my employer that, combined, is close to ten times what my employer paid on my behalf back in Alberta.  I can't stress enough how the worries about healthcare in the US shape the everyday lives of Americans and American business in ways that Canadians can't even truly comprehend. Not having to worry about the financial costs of getting sick or going to your doctor or whether or not you can "afford" to change jobs or start your own business is something Canadians experience without even knowing it. Imagine how much capital would be freed up if companies and individuals didn't spend so much of their money covering the basic costs of healthcare.  This myth about the US having the best or even one of the better healthcare systems in the world doesn't stand up to scrutiny for even a moment if you've experienced the systems of another country. The US could do much, much better and be an example for the world of how to do things right rather than the prime example of how best to do things horribly ineffectively. I am quite happy living in Vermont, but I know that if anyone in my family got seriously ill we'd quickly be headed back across the border for good.
Paul,
South Burlington, Vt.



More than 20 years ago my wife in a routine physical had a note put on her medical records that she may require a hysterectomy one day. A month or two after that exam her health insurance rates began doubling every month and continued until I could not afford her insurance any longer. That is when I found out what a preexisting condition can do to your health care premiums.
Larry,
Nevis, Minn.



My son is 35. Has worked all his life in a well paid field but always as a "contractor" (used by employers to avoid offering benefits, itself technically an illegal practice) and has been unable to get health insurance at a reasonable price. He has been to the ER (heart attack) three times in the last year at a cost of over $100,000.00 each time.  He will never be able to buy a house or even a decent car as it will take him 10-20 years to pay this off, providing his health returns.
Graham,
Pecos, N.M.



My sister who got hepatitis C when she got a blood transfusion during her last pregnancy has to currently pay $1800.00 a month for health insurance with a $5000.00 deductable. And she tells me they sent her a notice it will be going up. She hasn’t been to a doctor in years because of the high deductible. She is thinking of letting it go and just pay when she goes but she also had thyroid problems after her last pregnancy and may have to have it removed. It is outrageous what a person with a preexisting condition has to pay.
William,
Homestead, Fla.



Effective January 2009, due to economic conditions, our company cancelled our health insurance. Since there was no insurance, Cobra cannot be used. To convert from group to individual was out of the question because premiums would be 1200.00 per month (just for me). Further, I was scheduled for left knee replacement and other than conversion, I can't get insurance (pending operation).
Dave,
Lancaster, Calif.



I am a self-employed Civil Engineer. I operate as a sole-proprietorship with no employees. In 2007 my gross pre-tax receipts was just under $130,000.  Then the economy started to slow down. My gross receipts for 2008: just under $20,000. In January, my premiums went to $2.000/month. Needless to say I had to drop or coverage. It’s difficult to pay $24K/year for health insurance when one only earns $20K pre-tax.
Robert,
San Antonio, Texas



I have health insurance, but I have a $2500 deductible for myself and a $2500 deductible for my daughter. I am a single mother trying to put my daughter through college. She cut her hand doing dishes in her dorm and was sent by the college wellness center to an urgent care clinic where she received 5 stitches in her hand and I now have a bill of $1000 to pay and I have health insurance.
Colette,
Rutland, Vt.



As a healthy 64-year-old unemployed female, I have tried to secure coverage as an individual. The cost is prohibitive, and I have no guarantee that I would be covered, even if the insurance company initially accepted my premiums. Until I am Medicare eligible, I live on the knife-edge of luck, hoping to avoid bankruptcy by not getting ill or being in an accident.
Lianne,
Cannon Beach, Ore.



My wife died of cancer in 1989, leaving me with over $100,000 in medical bills. My insurance company, GEHA, refused to pay them, stating that the chemotherapy she was receiving was experimental.  I appealed it to OPM, but they upheld the insurance company's denial … five years of litigation exhausted the insurance benefits, so I was left to pay the bills. I would not declare bankruptcy, even though my family doctor and lawyer recommended it. I had a great job, but I spent years paying off the medical bills.
Jim,
Neosho, Mo.



I currently have health insurance thru my employer and have had very good insurance for the past 8 years. Prior to this job I had either very poor insurance or Vermont Health Access Program and at times no insurance. I want to tell you that when I did not have insurance and I went to the doctor I was treated much differently than how I am now treated with insurance. Health care providers treated me with a lack of respect and I believe that my care was not the quality that it is now. I am the same person that I was 10 years ago, I am just lucky enough to have found a good job that offers good insurance. I believe that it should be everyone's right to have good quality health insurance, and that all people regardless of their socio-economic status should be treated equally. Health care is a very personal issue and when a person is treated without respect because of their lack of insurance, the experience diminishes their self esteem and worthiness.  
Kerry,
Brandon, Vt.



I am covered by a wonderful government plan -- Medicare, but my son, who is 50, with a masters degree in technology, and unemployed for the last 10 months is finding the cost of health insurance unaffordable. My daughter, who is self-employed, had a bout with cancer 15 years ago is paying an astronomical amount for a plan with a very high deductible and lucky to have that. This is nuts in a country like ours.
Loren,
Victoria, Minn.



When my daughter aged off our Kaiser insurance at age 22, we had to pay for an expensive high-risk plan as Kaiser (a supposedly non-profit company??) denied her continued coverage due to a pre-existing condition. She is in college full-time and cannot afford to pay the high premiums. We now must use retirement funds to pay the premiums. If she didn't have us to help her, I don't know what would happen.
Sandra,
Fair Oaks, Calif.



I recently broke my kneecap and was hospitalized for 2 days and nights.  I was appalled to find out the hospital alone was charging almost $30,000. Then there were bills from the surgeon, anesthesiologist, radiology, subsequent office visits, medications, etc. I am fortunate to have had the coverage that I had; if not, where would I have conjured up such an astronomical amount of money?
Linda,
Ramona, Calif.



As an employer of approximately 20 people (in construction), we provide health insurance to our employees. Over thirty years, we have seen annual increases in the premiums we pay that far exceed the rate of inflation. We have looked at every provider option available, as well as higher deductible plans to try to reduce our costs. We are currently with Blue Cross Blue Shield, and our premiums for families are over $1,300 per month. In addition to this cost, employees have copays for medicine, doctors and hospital visits. Our plan has devolved to include patient copays of $1,000, and $2,000 for outpatient and inpatient visits. In addition, Blue Cross has not paid for preventive procedures such as clonoscopies as they are not "medically necessary"!  The bottom line is that these costs should not be borne by employers. Most workers in our industry cannot afford health care, and would not carry it on their own.
Dan,
Vergennes, Vt.



I have worked all of my life, since I was 8 years of age and delivered papers and babysat to earn money before I was employed in the corporate world at the age of 17. The only time that I had health care coverage was through my employment, which was always until 2001, when I lost my job, and have not been able to obtain a "permanent" job since. I am 63 and I have asthma that has been worsening with the increase of global warming and its health-endangering symptoms. With Health Secretary Sebelius stating that it will take "years" before everyone could possibly receive health care coverage, I know that I will die before I will be eligible for health care coverage. That is a sobering and frightening sentence to be dealt.
Charlene,
Arlington, Texas



My family and I pray everyday that nothing will happen to us medically. We pay for regular doctors visits out of our own pockets, but we only go when we can afford to. I am unable to afford the annual tests that I need for the control of my hypertension. I do not get tests that are recommended for women my age. When something really awful happens, we go to the emergency room and then have been unable to pay those exorbitant and outrageous costs.
Rebecca,
Okeechobee, Fla.



Both my husband and I have insurance through our employers. When my husband had to have emergency surgery, we ended up in debt that we have no way to pay because health care is so expensive that even with insurance, we can't afford it. No one should be faced with thousands of dollars in bills when they pay to be insured.
Marlene,
Enosburg Falls, Vt.



Next to the quarterly taxes that we pay, our health insurance bill is the largest of our expenses, three times as much as our mortgage and property tax combined.
Catherine,
East Lansing, Mich.



My health care premiums just increased 22%.  Everyone I know is spending well over 100% more on health care costs than they were eight years ago. True reform can only happen when the "For Profit" entity is removed from the patient/doctor equation. I want single payer.
Andrea,
Palm Springs, Calif.



We have United Healthcare, we don’t have a choice, and their service is terrible. We are constantly denied perfectly legitimate claims and are forced to call them and rectify these "mistakes". I later learned from a trusted friend who works in healthcare administration that this is just one of the many "tricks" employed by these companies since they know that many people are unaware of their coverage and simply pay out of pocket when claims are denied.
Philip,
Senoia, Ga.



I get my health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is, without a doubt, socialized medicine. It is also excellent health care, and it is administratively more efficient than any other system I've used. For example, the other day I had a back injury. From the time I walked into my doctor's office until the time I left the radiology center was fifty minutes. And I had a diagnosis and suggested treatment from my doctor within five hours. No for-profit outfit can match that.
Robert,
Santa Fe, N.M.



Today, I went in for my physical, the one item on my plan that's 100 percent covered. It was time, and I had a little pain in my ear, plus my allergies were acting up. Fortunately, I called my insurance company to make sure that it was indeed covered, and they told me that preventative items were covered, but any other consultation was not. So if I had mentioned my ear or my allergies, my visit would have been classified an “office visit” and I would have had to pay a $25 copay plus 20 percent of the visit. I went to my doctor and played the game, asking vague questions about the tests she ran to try to determine the answers to my questions without actually asking any questions that would have made it an “office visit.”  That's why we need Single Payer health care. So doctors and patients don't have to play these games. A system where a physical is only covered if I'm not sick is just perverse. We should get the help we need without thinking about the costs.
Jeremy,
Saint Paul, Minn.



I am on disability due to mental illness. While I truly appreciate the help I receive, dealing with our current system of health care is frustrating and confusing. My experience with the Department of Children and Families is that the case managers are overworked, cynical, and often times just as confused about the process as I am. I have worked with my therapist for over three years now. Because of this relationship, I have not been hospitalized for two years. Yet, at the beginning of this year, I lost my Medicaid and my therapy appointments are now not covered. My therapist has graciously agreed to continue to see me for a limited fee. This is not fair to her and I am not able to see her as often as I really need to.
Jacki,
Burlington, Vt.



I had a procedure in 1999 when I had health insurance and the doctors said I would need follow-up care for the rest of my life. In 2003 when I lost my health care through divorce, I was deemed uninsurable and haven't had the follow-up care I need. I live pay check to pay check, week to week and there isn't any money for the care I need. When I'm sick I still have to work, there is no waiting list because the time limit for when I can afford to see a doctor is "never." I'm praying for single payer health care so I can see a doctor and have a chance at a long healthy life and see my grandkids grow up.
Brenda,
Crestview, Fla.



My best friend is just getting out of the bankruptcy he was forced into when he was on chemotherapy. Now he has had kidney stones for nearly a year! He is currently in collection for the last time he had treatment for kidney stones. He works at least 60 hours every week as a cab driver and would be barely getting by even if he weren't in collection. Kidney stones are treatable with one diagnostic procedure to pinpoint the area, and a day surgery procedure with one follow-up visit. NOT treating them, on the other hand, is life-threatening.
Pamela,
Portland, Ore.



I graduated from college and, not surprisingly, was unable to find a job right away. Once I graduated, I was also cut off from my parents’ health insurance. Because I couldn't find a job that offered benefits, I was uninsured. To receive insurance, I would have to pay a large sum each month, but without a job this becomes a catch 22. It's not fair that I, a healthy 23 year old with a bright future ahead and who has worked hard in the past, might be in jeopardy because of our health care system. If I get injured or sick, I have no means of paying for treatment. The practice of providing health care only through people's separate insurance benefits is practical only when people have careers that provide those benefits!  
Morgan,
Milton, Vt.


My wife is currently threatened with colon cancer and has to have her colon removed. No surgeon under our insurance can do the procedure, so we are spending our time making sure that referrals are being sent by multiple parties to even allow us to see a surgeon outside of our provider. Even then, we can't get all of the care from the surgeon's hospital, but must do pre-operative procedures at our insurance's hospital before my wife then goes to the surgeon's hospital to have the operation. We have been forced to pay for procedures that we were thought covered before for other problems, so we are waiting for them to say they won't pay, rather than concentrating on my wife having a successful operation and procedure. I hope you will keep fighting to stream line the insurance process by creating a universal, single payer environment, where people can concentrate on getting healthy, and not how they might have to declare bankruptcy in order to pay for a life saving procedure.
Patrick,
Lake Mills, Wis.



I work with low-income families, and last week a student in my school lost his mother. The family does not have access to quality medical help. The mom was diabetic. She could get into a doctor, but the wait time was immense. She needed to lose money from her paycheck in order to get a prescription filled. She also had to pay for the prescription out of pocket. As a result, she went without checkups and medicine. Drug reps are giving doctors incredible benefits and perks, while charging an arm and a leg for medicine. A mother went without her medicine. A little girl and a little boy will grow up without a mother. This is shameful. Shameful! I have had enough.
Dex,
Bellingham, Wash.

Report this comment
#2) On July 09, 2009 at 1:29 PM, devoish (97.62) wrote:

Page 3: 

Date Posted: 06/22/2009

I owned a natural foods supermarket in Charlotte, NC for 17 years from 1991. From the beginning I felt health care was an essential benefit. I had 50 employees and provided health care to all the full time employees at 100% paid by the company and I provided health insurance with no deductibles. In the last few years, costs went up so much that I had to start including deductibles and even having employees pay for their insurance. Unfortunately we spent so much money on health care, more than we ever made in profit, that I had to close the business in 2008.
Marc,
Charlotte, N.C.


After graduating from the University of Vermont with a B.S. in Computer Science in 2003, my story has been one of constant struggle against underemployment, paying back college loans, and trying to afford the medicine I need to stay healthy. I have participated in drug-testing studies for over 6 months at a time in order to get asthma medication because I could not afford to purchase approved medicine, or just had to do without and became too sick to find work. During the programming job that I held during 2008, I was spending over 25 percent of my income on health insurance and medication combined until I was unable to continue and started only taking half the prescribed dosage so I could be healthy during the workday but sick again at night. When I lost my job due to the economic downturn at the end of 2008, I had to stockpile what medicine I could before my insurance ended and have lived ever since then on only half of the medicine I need, never fully healthy and often somewhat sick.
Justin,
Burlington, Vt.



My son, 23 years old, on the other hand, is a volunteer fire fighter, part-time EMT and Paramedic. He had to go to the hospital a year ago and he had no insurance. Meanwhile, he has been trying to get a full time job. So he has had to pay what he can, when he can on his medical bills. My question is, why a young man who risks his life to save individuals would not be covered at all. These men and women risk their lives everyday. It does not make sense to me that someone who is in this type of occupation would not be covered. It is a shame this country does not take care of these men and women as they should. they are taken for granted....By the way, my son saved a life yesterday.
Karen,
Fort Pierce, Fla.



Our youngest son was born w/ a serious congenital defects that required several surgeries to address and numerous hospitalizations over the last 7 years. Although our insurance has over the years covered much of the expense, co-pays and deductibles would have long ago forced us to sell our house to pay them had it not been for the generous support of family. While the care we have received has been mostly first rate, including hospitals and doctors in four states, the costs have been simply astronomical.
Albert,
Saxtons River, Vt.



My neighbor is a police officer. His mother retired from dupont company with Aetna Insurance. She has cancer, she was treated at Christiana Care, and was just sent a bill for $140,000....this is with health insurance?
Elizabeth,
Wilmington, Del.



I'm a 56 yr old single woman who wants to be able to work where I want to work, maybe work part-time or work for myself. Currently I work for health insurance. I have a job that is stressful and demoralizing and I have to work 40 hrs a week. The stress isn't good for my health. I just want to be free from big business and find a job I love and not worry about whether or not the job provides health insurance.
Nancy,
Mesa, Ariz.



Our health system is simply not civilized. It’s downright shameful. No one should have to ignore their health problems because of finances. Everyone should have access to preventive care. In my lifetime I’d like to see health care covered nationally, for every citizen and lawful resident of the U.S. A private-public system does not go far enough. The insurance companies are gluttonous, greedy organizations that justify their actions by claiming cost savings are good for their shareholders.
Stephanie,
Bakersfield, Vt.



I have breast cancer and am scared to death that if I lose my job I will be without health insurance. It's not fair and it's not right. Please tell your fellow senators to stop playing politics with this critical issue and do what is right for the country.
Andrea,
Hartville, Ohio



I have worked in the health care field for almost 15 years and things have gotten much worse. We have many patients in my orthopedic surgeon's office who forgo prescribed medications, testing, surgeries, and treatments due to financial burdens. Many of these people are insured--or should I say underinsured.   I myself am currently in collections with a hospital because of charges accrued while I was admitted with an asthma attack and bronchitis. My HMO deductible had yet to be reached so, after one night, my out of pocket was $1500.00.  Something must change. I believe the economic crisis could be aided by eliminating these high medical expenses that continue to burden the American people.
Katie,
Grand Rapids, Mich.



I was self-employed and paying a large premium for "catastrophic" coverage ($5,000 deductible) for myself and my family. We weren't earning much and the rates just kept going up, up, up, until finally I realized we were avoiding going to the doctor just SO we could afford to pay for insurance which we weren't then able to use!  We live in a state where they can't turn you away at the hospital if you have an emergency. We don't own a house or anything of real value (mostly due to those same high premium payments), so we decided we would take the risk and become uninsured. We lived with no insurance for several years. And, even with doctor and hospital bills, we were no worse off than when we had insurance.
Mary,
Hardwick, Vt.



For seven months the hospital monthly spent an inordinate amount of time and money FIGHTING with Blue Cross to keep my daughter there, all the while Blue Cross being four months behind in paying what they had approved. Finally they refused to pay some of the agreed upon care, and refused further treatment. If she had been discharged then, she would be dead now.  Her father and I each had to borrow $27,000 to cover the balance owed plus two additional months of care, which I will be paying the remainder of my life.
Wendy,
Weston, Vt.



My wife has been without insurance since I lost my job in 2001. (COBRA would have cost me almost my full Social Security check). She is uninsurable because of "pre-existing conditions" – back surgery and treatment with an antidepressant.
Craig,
Seaside, Calif.



I am retired, and just had heart surgery, fixing my tri-cuspid and mitral valve. Our medical bills are one third to one half of our budget.
Thomas,
Turtle Lake, Wisc.



For 15 years, my wife and I were self-employed as craftsmen, making jewelry for our own business. One of the biggest problems we had to deal with was affording health insurance for ourselves and, later, our son. Now, we have been forced to abandon this business partially due to insurance costs, and I do not think that it is possible for us to restart it with the current system of healthcare.
Randall,
Sharon, Vt.



My husband had a stroke and the cost of his health care now is appalling. Stroke survivors are also victims of a health care system that cuts them off if progress is slow, as it is for most brain injuries. Families are left on their own to go bankrupt. One hopes theier money lasts but it is a race to see if the savings will last until death. And money worries add to the stress of the horrible situation. A single payer health system will help cut the costs and stress of those of us burdened with on-going and persistent health issues that our loved ones face. Do something.
Marla,
San Mateo, Calif.



I'm not what one would consider sickly and yet I do go to the doctor more than once a year and I have had to undergo extensive medical procedures over the years. Last year I had Blue Cross / Blue Shield which I got through my employer at a cost of over $500.00 per month, just for myself. I found that I could not walk and had to go to the doctor. After an x-ray, MRI, foot doctor appts, numerous blood tests and a trip to the neurologist I began to receive bills. I thought I had met my deductible, but when I called the insurance company I was told that I had a $750 deductible, after that I was responsible for 50 percent up to $1,500.00 and than 30 percent up to $2,500 and than 20 percent. I had no way to pay these bills and they will be on my credit report. I also got medication that I did not pick up because I had yet to satisfy my $100 prescription deductible.
Celeste,
Manchester Center, Vt.



I am President of a small 55 year established wholesale food service equipment dealer in Ohio and for five employees my company cost is nearly $2,000.00 per month!!! Small business can't afford this terrible expense! It is more thank our office and showroom monthly rental! It is only a HSA plan with $2,500.00 deductible and no dental or vision coverage. Structure a health plan small business (as well as large!) can afford and cover all employees. Hang tough!
Rex,
Ashland, Ohio    



In 1998 I was vacationing in Canada with my family when I broke my leg while hiking. I was assisted by the local rescue squad and taken to the closest hospital. From the moment I arrived until shortly before I checked out I was not harassed by forms or requests for payment.  While a patient I shared my room with several other patients and listening to their personal stories convinced me of the advantage of a single payer style health system.
Robert,
Norwich, Vt.

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#3) On July 09, 2009 at 3:06 PM, FleaBagger (28.77) wrote:

Hi, devoish! I have another article that I think you might find enlightening. As to the comparison of the U.S. as a big government country versus Somalia as a small government country, this article might be instructive.

http://mises.org/story/3490

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#4) On July 09, 2009 at 9:54 PM, FleaBagger (28.77) wrote:

Hi again! Let me ask you something: do you think it's possible that, as a people, Americans are worse at implementing nationally organized systems than say, the Nords are? Is it theoretically possible that we (Americans) are culturally inhibited in ways that would make a perfectly good Norwegian system unworkable here?

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#5) On July 09, 2009 at 9:54 PM, rofgile (99.16) wrote:

Good post Devoish.   I am totally in agreement with your posts about the importance of health care, and in support of single payer system (universal health care model).  Keep trying to spread the facts,

' Rof 

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#6) On July 11, 2009 at 3:34 PM, SuperCharge (89.66) wrote:

It seems like every year the U.S. premium goes up 15% while wages barely adjust to inflation.

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