Sunday, March 1, 2009

American Health Insurance: Falling Into The Gap

By Don Bethune

Many Americans are insured through work that covers their families as well. These are usually working class or middle class families. Wealthier Americans will either have insurance from their employer or a health savings account to pay for expenses. Very low income individuals and children often qualify for state health care services and can get basic exams and treatment at little to no cost. While a lot of people have coverage there are many who don't.

Young people who are no longer covered under family plans, but do not have insurance through work, are many times uninsured. State benefits do not apply to them, but they have not begun to make the income necessary to pay out of pocket. Even though younger people tend to be more resilient, if a serious health problem occurs they may be left with a tremendous bill. Their only recourse will be taking on hefty payment plans, borrowing from relatives, or applying for loans. They will be starting out in life with debt.

The self-employed are often uninsured for the same reasons. When given a choice to spend high premiums on insurance that you may not use, most people will rather have that money in their hand every month and pay for small medical expenses as they come.

Surprisingly, American children are at risk. Although state programs will provide care for many children, only those from families whose income is below a certain level will qualify. Expenses are not considered, only income. This leaves many children just above the poverty line without coverage.

There are very few programs that offer affordable dental care for the uninsured. As a result many people neglect going to the dentist and often suffer painful ailments of the mouth when they can't afford crowns or fillings. Older individuals may lose teeth but be unable to afford dentures and will therefore suffer from poor nutrition as food becomes more difficult to process.

As a result of not having the security of good health coverage, many individual turn to alternative therapies and herbal remedies. Neither of these offer the vast array of life saving treatments proper medical care can offer. While they may be suitable for simple ailments, they cannot provide real solutions for advanced medical problems. Some people may even attempt to treat broken bones with homemade casts, or remove teeth at home.

When options for care and treatment are limited a person can have a very poor quality of life, chosing to stay inside or stop working rather than endure pain. This is a sad reality for many americans that are not insured and do not have access to affordable healthcare.

Currently there is no program to help fill in the gaps in coverage and help to provide care to everyone. Private insurance is often too expensive and state programs only cover they very poor. Our president says that health is a right we are all entitled to, so we need to provide coverage for all Americans regardless or income level or type of employment.

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