Healthcare Reform – Act Now!
While Washington, D.C. is digging out of the recent snowfall, congress is on a short recess spending time this week in their districts. Now is the perfect time to let your elected officials know how important it is to pass meaningful healthcare reform soon! This isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue…it’s a patient issue. If you’re reading this post, it’s because you share an interest in patient issues, especially surrounding those with chronic, debilitating and life threatening illnesses like cancer. If you are a cancer patient, you know firsthand how difficult navigating through the insurance coverage for your disease is – if you’re lucky enough to have insurance. If not, well you’ve got company in the 45 million Americans who are uninsured1. Even with insurance, many of our fellow Americans are one cancer diagnosis away from medical bankruptcy; In a recent study of personal bankruptcies in the United States, over 62% are related in part to overwhelming medical expenses due to a medical condition2. This is 20 percentage points higher than respondents attributed to medical reasons in 2001. Pre-existing exclusions, waiting periods for treatment or loss of coverage is a real threat to the 45% of the population or 133 million Americans managing a chronic disease3. These people are essentially one job change away from a 12 month pre-existing exclusion for their disease. This “Job-Lock” is not a good position to be in during these economic times.
So what can you do? The answer is, in fact, quite a lot. Let your elected officials know that they must pass reform now! There are two bills pending in congress – one in the house and one in the senate – both of which cover most of the necessary corrections to our current healthcare delivery and insurance system such as the elimination of pre-existing conditions and caps on out of pocket expenses to protect patients from medical bankruptcy. Below is a link to a National Patient Advocate Foundation Action Alert. It allows you to enter your demographic information and it will then identify for you your Congressional Representative and U.S. Senators. It has editable text that urges congress to pass meaningful reform and you can designate whether it is to be sent via email, fax or letter. It is a convenient, quick way to get the message to congress that they must act now to pass meaningful healthcare reform. Click on this URL to take action now: http://capwiz.com/npaf/issues/alert/?alertid=14612846 Or you can copy the entire URL and paste it into your Web browser.
If ever congress needed to hear from Americans about the importance of passing meaningful healthcare reform, it is now. Don’t be mislead by the hype, fear mongering and sound bites of those who want to maintain the status quo – it is unacceptable! The option to do nothing or to scrap the hard work and legislation that have been crafted so far and start again (as a delay tactic) is not an option.
Note: In the spirit of full and open disclosure, I must state that in addition to currently battling my own cancer, I am a volunteer for the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF). NPAF is a national non-profit organization providing the patient voice in improving access to, and reimbursement for, high-quality healthcare through regulatory and legislative reform at the state and federal levels. NPAF translates the experience of millions of patients who have been helped by our companion, Patient Advocate Foundation, which provides professional case management services to individuals facing barriers to healthcare access for chronic and disabling disease, medical debt crisis and employment-related issues at no cost.
1. U.S Census Bureau. “Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007.” August, 2008
2. David U. Himmelstein, MD, Deborah Thorne, PhD, Elizabeth Warren, JD, Steffie Woolhandler, MD, MPH. “Medical Bankruptcy in the United States, 2007: Results of a National Study.” American Journal of Medicine, Volume 20, No. 10, 2009.
3. Wu, S. Green, A. Projection of Chronic Illness Prevalence and Cost Inflation, RAND Corporation, October 2000.