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Californians Facing Health Insurance Crisis with 1 in 4 Uninsured


Californians Facing Health Insurance Crisis with 1 in 4 Uninsured

By Susan Brad

With all the current brouhaha over the possible “deem and pass” health care bill in Congress, it is especially poignant that a new study done in California shows that almost 1 in every 4 residents lacks health insurance.

It is a bold reminder that a significant portion of our population, even in a highly industrialized state, is going without what most consider a basic necessity.

The Center for Health Policy Research at UCLA released the findings of a 2009 study that shows over 8 million Californians under the age of 65 are without health insurance, one of the highest rates in the country. The double whammy of a bad economy and continuing layoffs as well as the high price of individual policies has contributed to this alarming figure.

Take the case of Duane Walbrecht, who took an early retirement and worked part-time as a self-employed tax preparer. Always healthy, with no hospital visits, he had no health insurance when a stroke hit him. A year of hospitals, rehab, and doctors put him deeply in debt. Two heart attacks plunged him deeper into the abyss. He was forced to sell his home to pay his medical bills. His grandson, Grant, tells a slightly different story. Working as an apprentice butcher in a small family-owned grocery store, he lost his job to a lower-paid worker. Not realizing he was eligible for COBRA, and never receiving the paperwork due to an address error, he has been without health insurance for 6 months. Although he has found another job, it is with lower pay and no benefits. He won’t even go skiing for fear that an injury would not only cause him to lose his job, but put him so far in debt he would never see his way out. 

For those that need ongoing medical care or have a health crisis, being without insurance is a threat to daily existence. And the cost of insurance on the open market can be prohibitive, particularly if you have a pre-existing condition. The recent outcry over Anthem Blue Cross and their decision to raise rates as much as 39% has illuminated that fact. Being unemployed, or even underemployed, leaves our citizens with very few options and many are hoping that Congress will “deem” the current health care bill worthy and allow it to “pass.” Their physical and financial health just may depend on it. 

Credit: www.healthnews.com



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