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With the huge increase in unemployment in recent months tens of millions of people are losing their health insurance. At the start of March 2020 about 160 million people in the U.S. had health insurance through the job of a family member. Now an estimate from the Robert Woods Foundation says that 25 to 43 million people will lose their insurance because of a family member layoff.
The poorest of these working families will be able to get on Medicaid. The ability to get on Medicaid was made easier through the laws commonly called Obamacare. However, because of a court decision states didn't have accept the easier standard and 14 states didn't. For those workers who are not poor they'll have to find an insurance company that will take them and the money burden will be large. The Woods Foundation Report makes one projection that 12 million will go on Medicaid, 6 million will pay for private insurance and 7 million will have no insurance at all.
How will the states pay for all the increased people on Medicaid? Already they are running huge deficits because they're not taking in their usual tax money. How will they pay for an average 240,000 new people in each state going on Medicaid?
We know there's an alternative to this, Medicare for All. It would be far less expensive than our current patchwork system and save thousands of lives each year.
On May 7 the New Orleans City Council unanimously passed a resolution of support for a federal "Medicare for All" bill. Council President Williams said, "The United States is the only large wealthy nation in the world without universal health care. This pandemic painfully highlights the health care disparities that have existed for years and has put a spotlight on the systemic inequalities at the root of our health care system, which treats good health as a privilege."
Why not get as many City Council's a possible to take this tack and to support a Medicare for All bill. (see a model letter to your City Council in the next panel)
See National Nurses United for more information about Medicare for All.
New London, CT City Council passed a resolution supporting the concept earlier in 2019.
[ Search online for you City Council emails. Easiest thing is to send you post to all of them. ]
I call on the Council to pass a resolution calling for adoption by the U.S. government of the Medicare for All bill filed in 2019. A resolution of support of that bill was adopted by the New Orleans City Council on May 7.
The Medicare for All plan was always a fine idea, but after the huge job losses in the pandemic it becomes a necessity. A brand-new study by the Robert Woods Foundation estimates that between 25 to 43 million people will lose their employer-based health insurance because of unemployment this year. Most will be able to go on Medicaid, but an estimated 7 million people will have no medical insurance at all. That is in addition to the 27 million people whom the Census reported as having no health insurance in 2018.
This would be catastrophic.
Employer-based health insurance is a shaky proposition in the best-of-times and we have no idea when those good times might come again. Medicare for All means no cost to the patient at the point of service. It would be paid for out of federal taxes. It would not depend on your job status at all. Many studies show the plan would be far cheaper to the nation than the mix of current insurance plans and unpaid for trips to emergency rooms. The most recent study done by the Yale School for Public Health and released this February has shown that the plan would save $450 billion a year and save 68,000 lives a year.
Please support Medicare for All and publicize your stand widely. Join in the growing demand for this necessary life-saving legislation.
So you go on Medicaid. What's the big deal? We'll, it's not that easy. You've got to be really doing poorly for that. In CT your yearly income for a couple has to be less than $27.000. A family of four is given a break for all the costs of raising children so if you make less than $41,000 you're eligible.
What about the increased cost when you lose your employer insurance and have to buy your own? Almost no one has completely free employer insurance these days, but it's still a big cost when you lose it. In one case we know about an employee contribution of $600 a months became a $1,300 a month payment when the plan had to be paid for by the laid off worker. *
What are the costs of an insured person who gets Covid-19? Well, the hospitals charge the insurance companies and average of $10,000 for a simple case and $20,000 if there are complications. Insured people don't pay that but they do pay the deductibles which range from $1,600 to $5,000 plus any co-pays.
And if you have no insurance at all? Back in mid-March Time magazine wrote about a woman who was charged $35,000 for COVID-19 testing and hospital care. On June 14 a New York Times article talked about a woman billed $400,000. for care.
*There is a temporary program when people are laid off from an employer with 20 or more employees. It's called COBRA. The laid off worker can pay for insurance at the group rate that his former employer paid. Obviously he or she is going to pay more because the employer isn't paying anything for it. COBRA lasts for 18 to 36 months
Our nation is facing a catastrophic health care crisis that Congress must address. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, 87 million Americans were uninsured or under-insured. That number is rapidly escalating as millions of workers are not only losing their jobs but are also losing their employer-based health insurance as well. In fact, it has been estimated that as many as 35 million Americans will lose their employer-provided health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic and about 11 million Americans could soon enter the ranks of the uninsured.
The cost of hospital treatment for the coronavirus amounts to tens of thousands of dollars. Tragically, we have already seen people who have delayed treatment due to concerns about cost. In this pandemic, lack of insurance will lead to more deaths and more COVID-19 transmissions.
During this unprecedented crisis, no one in America should delay seeking medical care because of the cost. We cannot live in a nation where if you are rich you get all of the treatment that you need, but if you are poor or live in a working class family you are out of luck.
The Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act would empower the government to leverage the existing efficiency of Medicare’s payment infrastructure to ensure COVID-19 relief funding goes directly to patient care, without changing families’ insurance coverage or touching the Medicare trust fund. Under the bill, the federal government would pay all of the costs of treatment for the uninsured, and all of the out-of-pocket costs for those with public or private insurance, for as long as this pandemic continues. No one in America who is sick, regardless of income or immigration status, should be afraid to seek the medical treatment they need during this national crisis.