Posts Tagged ‘health care’

Percent without Health Insurance Coverage
Universe: Civilian Noninstitutionalized Population
Data Set: 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates
Survey: American Community Survey, Puerto Rico Community Survey
United States by State

Unemployment ruins the health of people who have lost their jobs, or worry about losing their jobs. Now, it’s costing those who have not yet lost their jobs more to keep their health insurance. That’s because corporations are requiring workers to pay a larger percentage of their health plan coverage.

According to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2010 covered workers contributed a greater share of the total premium. This represents a radical change from the previous decade, when workers’ share remained roughly the same. (This itself is not such a rosy scenario, since health care premiums increased some 114 percent over the decade, thus requiring workers to fork over more and more money to maintain coverage for themselves and their families.)

In addition, workers face both increases in deductibles and cutbacks in health plan coverage.

The authors of the Kaiser study understand well the role of unemployment in causing the current corporate take-backs:

Tracking whether and how worker out-of-pocket costs continue to grow will be an important focus for the survey over the next few years. The slow economic recovery and continuing high unemployment suggests [sic] that this trend of increasing out-of-pocket costs will persist, as workers have little clout to demand better benefits or lower costs in the current labor environment.

While corporate profits continue to rise, as wages remain stagnant, corporations are also deciding to distribute a smaller share of those profits to cover their workers’ health. Workers’ pockets are being picked twice, while they work and when they try to keep their health.

Capitalism kills. Literally.

According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal (as reported in the Guardian), in 2007, for every 100 people under 65 dying in the best-off areas of England, Scotland, and Wales, 199 were dying in the poorest. Among under-75s, for every 100 people dying in the best-off areas, 188 were dying in the poorest.

This is another area where the parallels between the inequality in the years leading up to the Great Depression and the situation prior to 2008 are stark:

The last time in the long economic record that inequalities were almost as high was in the lead up to the economic crash of 1929 and the economic depression of the 1930s.

And the situation is probably going to get even worse:

“The economic crash of 2008 might precede even greater inequalities in mortality between areas in Britain,” they said.

While rates of rising inequalities may have been slowed “some underlying factors, such as unemployment, have been rising rapidly over the course of those two years [2008 and 2009]. Furthermore, in absolute numbers, unemployment has increased fastest in the poorest areas.”

Unequal death rates are a result both of the inequality that preceded the current crises of capitalism and of the unequal impact of those crises.

Premature death is another consequence of capitalist inequality.

The new austerity measures being proposed are going to cost lives.

The health care system itself may be protected but, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal, cuts elsewhere are going to be hazardous to our health. That’s because there’s more to health than health care.

“These cuts will result in significant harm to people’s health,” said David Stuckler from the Department of Sociology at Oxford University. “It’s not just about doctors and medicines to care for the sick — social care and support are vital to prevent people from becoming ill.”

“So far the discussion about radical budget cuts has largely focused on improving the economy. But. . .these cuts will have a major adverse impact on the lives of ordinary people,” said Stuckler. “If we can remind policymakers that these cuts will cause real suffering. . .perhaps the decades of pain and austerity that are being contemplated will come with a human face.”

The budget-cutting measures that are being planned in a wide variety of countries—including the United States, England, Greece, Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Italy—will lead to higher death and suicide rates as well as a general deterioration in the health of the majority of the population. That’s both because social programs will be cut and because unemployment will continue at current high rates or even rise. And the effects will be felt for years to come.

Martin McKee of the World Health Organisation’s European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, who worked on the BMJ study, says the full impact of austerity measures on death and disease may not be felt for some time.

There can be decades-long lag times between government austerity measures and consequences such as deaths from obesity or heart disease caused by poor diets in families which have been forced by joblessness and a lack of welfare support to buy cheap, low quality food, for example.

“Scientific research can only demonstrate the short-term impacts,” McKee said. “But everything we know tells us it is highly likely this will have significant long-term effects.”

Imposing austerity measures to save capitalism may be successful in the short term—but working people will just be hanging on for dear life for the next 10, 20, or 30 years.

March madness

Posted: 24 March 2010 in Uncategorized
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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, under increasing right-wing influence, has decided to oppose the health care reform bill. Fortunately, other Catholic leaders—most of them women in religious orders—have picked up the flag of social justice discarded by the bishops’ conference.

E. J. Dionne reports that

a group representing 59,000 Catholic nuns plus more than 50 heads of religious congregations issued a strong statement urging “a life-affirming ‘yes’ vote” in support of the Senate bill. “While it is an imperfect measure, it is a crucial next step in realizing health care for all,” the statement said, adding that the bill’s support for pregnant women represented “the real pro-life stance.”

Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, loyally refuses to criticize the bishops but argues that their interpretation of the abortion language is simply wrong. She, too, released a forceful statement in support of the Senate bill.

And while U.S. Catholic bishops are raising their voices in opposition to expanding access to health care, Irish bishops have been trying to cover up the hush money they paid to victims of sexual abuse (and the scandal is spreading to the churches of Switzerland, Austria, and Brazil).

FOLLOW-UP

From Saturday’s NY Times, here’s a gem from Bart Simpson Stupak:

“With all due respect to the nuns, when I deal or am working on right-to-life issues, we don’t call the nuns,” he said on the MSNBC program “Hardball.”

But the nuns hit back:

“When I read the Gospel, where is Jesus? He’s healing the lepers,” Sister Simone said. “It’s because of his Gospel mandate to do likewise that we stand up for health care reform.

“We have a number of nuns in his district, and they’ve been calling him,” said Sister Regina McKillip, a Dominican nun who lives in Washington. “Who’s been on the ground, in the field? Who knows the struggles people have to deal with? It’s the sisters.”

Public art of the day

Posted: 27 January 2010 in Uncategorized
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Los Angeles Street Artist Saber sends his message to the country on health care reform. This is his submission for President Barack Obama’s Organizing For America Health Reform Video Challenge. This video was edited by Kevin Chapados.