Saturday, August 22, 2009

They tried to do the right thing

This is the PBS Now episode "Gambling with Health Care."

Here's a particularly relevant passage, that our "public health care is for Nazis" crowd might benefit from paying attention to: it's about a family that represents everything conservatives profess to be about getting screwed by our current health care system.

BRANCACCIO: But Nevada is a long way from Vermont in many ways, including health coverage. Meet Heather and Logan Murray. They never thought they would need help covering their two girls. Until now.

HEATHER MURRAY: The power bill, that we're behind on. That's a red bill, means it's close to being disconnected.

BRANCACCIO: This is a family that has tried to do the right thing. For years, Logan Murray had a well-paying job in the construction industry. They bought a house within their means and sold it before the real estate market tanked. They also made sure to set something aside each paycheck to build a modest nest egg.

But then last April, Logan got downsized from his job and that left the family struggling to come up with a way to replace their health insurance. COBRA proved to be too expensive to cover the whole family for long. It was $1,500 a month. Now think about it: you could make the payments on four new Toyota Corollas for that amount of money. So Heather shopped around for the cheapest private plan she could find. But with less money coming in and those bills piling up, even that plan may soon be out of reach. How long can you hold on with the insurance payments that you're paying now?

HEATHER MURRAY: Maybe about a couple weeks. I mean, I could—I may have to let go of the insurance. Just can't hold on any longer. We've tried—to save and pay it and it's just getting too expensive. So, it could be any day.

BRANCACCIO: So if you get to the point in just a couple weeks, as you are telling us, that you might not be able to—

HEATHER MURRAY: I might have to drop it.

BRANCACCIO: That's not a decision that's gonna come lightly—


BRANCACCIO: —for you.

HEATHER MURRAY: Not at all. It's gonna bring many sleepless nights, many worries, lots of stress.

BRANCACCIO: The Murray's want to apply for what's called Nevada check up—that's the state health insurance plan for kids. But the program may not take ten-year old Priscilla and three-year old Alexis. Why? Well, Nevada's governor—Republican Jim Gibbons —has proposed a cap on the number of kids who can join Nevada check up—no matter what the need. Heather Murray finds that shocking.

HEATHER MURRAY: There shouldn't be a cap. Most families who have children, who have a family and know how hard it is to struggle and to keep health care insurance, we wouldn't even think about putting a cap on these programs. They don't need a cap.

BRANCACCIO: So, are you disappointed with the health care system? Because—

HEATHER MURRAY: I'm very disappointed. You struggle. You pay everything you should. You do everything you should. And at the end it doesn't work out that way because our government and our system doesn't fight for families like ours. We're the middle class, and we pay the majority of the taxes and we don't get the right coverage and health care programs out there for us.
While she's not exactly correct that the middle class pay "the majority of taxes," her general sentiment is correct.

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