Health care costs in the United States have risen far faster than has the ability of the average American consumer to pay them. Unless you are fortunate enough to have an employer who still pays for your health insurance, you may have to pay as much as $500 a month in order to be covered in the event of a catastrophic illness. If you need a long stay in the hospital, you'll be faced with thousands upon thousands of dollars in medical expenses; not including the cost of medications, which are also on the rise.
Government incentives are now available to small businesses. These tax breaks were intended to induce small businesses to offer group health plans, but few have taken these up. It is just too expensive for most small business owners, the tax breaks do not cover the extra expense involved.
This has left consumers in a bad situation. If you have to pay for your own health insurance, this can often literally mean having to choose between food and health insurance. In this country, there really is no such thing as affordable health insurance. You may well have to declare bankruptcy if you have to pay for a medical emergency.
You might be able to qualify for affordable health insurance if your income is at or below the poverty line. In the majority of states, there are federally funded programs which cover medical treatment for catastrophic injury and illness. You can them get medical treatment which will at least save your life, but not those procedures which a person with full coverage would be entitled to receive. Premiums are charged, but are on a sliding scale. The amount of the premium depends on the size of your family and your income. While leaving something to be desired on terms of quality, these plans are as close as many can get to affordable health insurance.
Cuts in health insurance funding have been ongoing. These have been characterized by the elimination of some items in the list of services which are considered necessities. In 2006, the federal government mandated that state agencies reduce their costs. States responded with arbitrary cuts in programs , dental procedures were reduced to coverage only of emergency services. Also as part of this mandate, the administration slashed dental services for Vietnam veterans in order to provide care to Iraq veterans. This has led to Vietnam vets, whose teeth have suffered as a result of exposure to Agent Orange being reduced to pulling their own teeth with pliers! This failure of our health care system is nothing less than a national disgrace.
With a Presidential election just around the corner, affordable health insurance is on the minds of many. This is a nation which can afford to care for all of its citizens and needs to do so rather than merely giving lip service to this important issue. All Americans deserve health care, no matter what their income level.
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