The LuLac Edition #1736, August 30th, 2011
PHOTO INDEX: OUR HEALTH CARE REFORM LOGO AND BREAST CANCER FIGHTER CINDY.
A BREAST CANCER FIGHTER
In order to survive you must fight. And sometimes you need help in a fight. If you don’t get any help in a fight, the last thing you want is someone who will hinder your battle. I’d like you to meet Cindy someone fighting for her life every day. Her fight got more complicated, not because she ignored her doctors or didn’t take her medicine And she didn’t stop taking care of herself either. But her health insurance which was Adultbasic went south. Here’s how that impacted her very fight for survival:
I fight daily to be thankful for life. But now, I feel so defeated. I need your help.
My name is Cindy and I'm a 55 year old breast cancer survivor. I was one of the 42,000 people kicked off adultBasic. With this economy, I have to work three jobs to get by, but none of them offer health insurance.
Now I'm left with Special Care - a crappy plan that only gives me 4 doctors visits a year and cost 300-400% more than adultBasic. I need to see my oncologist at least twice a year; that leaves me with only two other visits for the entire year. Special Care was, unfortunately, the only plan I could get after my adultBasic ended.
Now, Highmark wants to raise rates on Special Care 9.9%. I wrote a letter to our Insurance Commissioner, Michael Consedine, explaining that we deserve a public hearing on these rate hikes. Insurance companies have no idea what their greed is doing to the lives of working people. Commissioner Consedine should investigate this. You can support me by signing this petition calling for a public hearing.
Highmark's surplus went up by 10% last year (none of my paychecks did..). They pay tens of millions of dollars a year on bonuses, fancy trips, advertising and lobbying. Why do they need more money from me to meet health care costs for a plan that covers almost nothing?
I'm a fighter, but I'm exhausted. I'm tired of being squeezed by all sides. I have to have coverage, but I don't know how to keep up with all the costs.
I believe a real, public hearing will show the truth. But there isn't much time. PHAN is going to help me by delivering my letter and these signatures to the Insurance Commissioner next week! Check out the PHAN website to see if Cindy gets help.
PHAN website: http://pahealthaccess.org/
AMERICA RANKED LOW
Americans spend twice as much as residents of other developed countries on healthcare, but get lower quality, less efficiency and have the least equitable system, according to a report released on Wednesday.
The United States ranked last when compared to six other countries -- Britain, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand, the Commonwealth Fund report found.
"As an American it just bothers me that with all of our know-how, all of our wealth, that we are not assuring that people who need healthcare can get it," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis told reporters in a telephone briefing.
Previous reports by the nonprofit fund, which conducts research into healthcare performance and promotes changes in the U.S. system, have been heavily used by policymakers and politicians pressing for healthcare reform.
Davis said she hoped health reform legislation passed in March would lead to improvements.
The current report uses data from nationally representative patient and physician surveys in seven countries in 2007, 2008, and 2009. It is available here
In 2007, health spending was $7,290 per person in the United States, more than double that of any other country in the survey.
Australians spent $3,357, Canadians $3,895, Germans $3,588, the Netherlands $3,837 and Britons spent $2,992 per capita on health in 2007. New Zealand spent the least at $2,454.
This is a big rise from the Fund's last similar survey, in 2007, which found Americans spent $6,697 per capita on healthcare in 2005, or 16 percent of gross domestic product.
"We rank last on safety and do poorly on several dimensions of quality," Schoen told reporters. "We do particularly poorly on going without care because of cost. And we also do surprisingly poorly on access to primary care and after-hours care."
NETHERLANDS RANKED FIRST OVERALL
The report looks at five measures of healthcare -- quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and the ability to lead long, healthy, productive lives.
Britain, whose nationalized healthcare system was widely derided by opponents of U.S. healthcare reform, ranks first in quality while the Netherlands ranked first overall on all scores, the Commonwealth team found.
U.S. patients with chronic conditions were the most likely to say they gotten the wrong drug or had to wait to learn of abnormal test results.
"The findings demonstrate the need to quickly implement provisions in the new health reform law," the report reads.
Critics of reports that show Europeans or Australians are healthier than Americans point to the U.S. lifestyle as a bigger factor than healthcare. Americans have higher rates of obesity than other developed countries, for instance.
"On the other hand, the other countries have higher rates of smoking," Davis countered. And Germany, for instance, has a much older population more prone to chronic disease.
Every other system covers all its citizens, the report noted and said the U.S. system, which leaves 46 million Americans or 15 percent of the population without health insurance, is the most unfair.
"The lower the performance score for equity, the lower the performance on other measures. This suggests that, when a country fails to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, it also fails to meet the needs of the average citizen," the report reads.
Rueters News Service