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Health Insurance Premiums Double in a Decade

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As the Beltway postures about health care reform, slowing it down so the vested interests can either be preserved intact or get all their favorite amendments into the legislation, 46 million uninsured people are asked the wrong question on a poll.

And MSNBC rants: “Approval for how Obama is handling health care reform has fallen eight points, from 57 percent to 49 percent. Health care costs.” How disingenuous. Why not ask them whether they want Obama to move more quickly on it? They would probably all say yes. And so would many of those who DO have insurance.

It feels like we are like frogs being slowly boiled in the pot of water; it’s been slow, but health insurance premiums have doubled over the past decade. And make no mistake, wages have not. In addition, there has been a subtle “cost shift” back to the consumer, so out-of-pocket costs are up one third.

And what does that mean? It means the number of people showing up at one emergency room in Washington, D.C. has gone up from 50,000 a year to 85,000 a year.

And what does that mean? It means that the hospital, to pay for the cost of caring for the uninsured, which emergency rooms are legally bound to do, are overcrowded and people die waiting to be seen for true emergencies.

But wait, there’s more, as they say on those infomercials. It also means that there’s another cost shift going on: from the uninsured to YOU. Don’t you understand, folks, those of you who don’t want to rush things, don’t want to pay for the uninsured (many of whom you think choose to “go bare”), don’t want to raise taxes; YOU ARE ALREADY PAYING FOR THE UNINSURED. That’s why your premiums are rising.

Unemployed or uninsurable mom brings her child to the ER. The child gets treatment. The mother can’t pay. The hospital must recoup the cost. You go to the ER, or even to your physician, who admits you to the hospital. The hospital bills you and you insurance company $5 for an aspirin to cover the cost of the last aspirins they have had to dispense to people without insurance who visit the emergency room.

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