Thursday, October 12, 2006

Children and health

The Children's Defense Fund recently published very useful information about the status of children's health here in the Lone Star state.

I wonder if you knew that. . .

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured children in the nation, with 21.6% or 1.4 million children lacking coverage. Almost 90% of these children have at least one working parent, but health coverage is too expensive for the families to afford. According the the Texas Department of Insurance the average premium for family coverage is $933 per month.

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured full-time workers in the nation, with 25.1% lacking health coverage, compared to the national average of 15%.

Over 700,000 Texas children are eligible for, but not enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicaid.

For every $1 invested by the state in CHIP , Texas receives $2.63 in federal matching funds. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison reports that by not fully funding CHIP the state has lost more than $700 million in federal funds paid in taxes to Washington for this purpose. The state's failure to draw these funds back to Texas means that dollars meant for Texas are now at work caring for children in New York, Oregon, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and any number of other states. Bright, huh?

As a result of cuts approved by the Texas Legislature, CHIP enrollment has dropped by 215,729 children since the cuts took effect on September 1, 2003.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest report on Medicaid, spending for this health benefit for low-income Americans declined in 2006 for the fourth consecutive year.

I think we ought to be doing better than this.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

This is absolutely ridiculous, Larry.

I have told people for a long time that children's health insurance in Texas is a mockery but I had no idea exactly how bad it was across the board.

So, what do we do? What politicians will actually do something about this if elected? How can we make a difference when we can barely afford health insurance ourselves?

Amy Boone said...

My frustration level with health insurance is so high I find myself just laughing about the insanity of it all sometimes. We haven't had "group" insurance with an employer for years, so we search around for something suitable for our family of 5. That's just the problem-- there isn't anything suitable. When we had a pretty good policy that included a prescription card and a decent co-pay, we saw our premiums increase so drastically that after a couple of years we had to look for something else. The premium for our family was close to $900-- A MONTH! Laughable. We have now opted for a "major medical" (even that phrase makes me laugh!) policy that still costs us about $300. Pretty good, you say? It pretty much covers nothing unless we were to have the worst medical crisis imaginable. I look at it as throwing $300 away every month. If my kids get sick and I have to go to the Dr., we pay the full amount at the Dr.'s office and the full price of a prescription. Lousy. I'm sure you're thinking we're fortunate to have the money to do this, but there have been many times I haven't taken a child to the Dr. because it is too expensive. And don't even get me started on how much it costs to take 5 people to the dentist without insurance. I'm really at the point that any good and logical suggestion about insurance would probably sound fine with me. I have actually considered dropping our insurance altogether thinking if we really did have a major medical crisis we'd just deal with it. Sad.

Larry James said...

Chris and Amy, thanks for your posts.

There is a better way, but it will involve a unified uprising of common, middle class folks. We need an efficient, single-payer health insurance system, like Medicare/Medicaid/VA, but for everyone in the U. S.

What is stopping us? Those with a vested interest in not seeing change. You can make your list of who those people/groups/industries would be.

It is working in every other developed nation on the planet. It could work here as well. But we would have to begin operating as a genuine community and medical care could no longer be treated as a commodity to be sold or traded. Medicine/medical care could not be shaped by economic forces only.

Belinda said...

We absolutely need an universal healthcare program in this country. I think we are the only "civilized" country in the world that doesn't have one.

KentF said...

Amy - my family deductible is $5,000 - and our premiums are not cheap. I and my wife have been instructed by doctors to have testing done on more than a few occassions. Virtually any test these days is $2,500 - so, typically just pray and move on without the test - and we're upper-middle class folks living in the U.S.!!

I'm so glad our politicians are worried about our southern border and gay marriage.

Anonymous said...

Congratlations on your debut on!

Keep the good work.


owldog said...

If the health coverage is so much better in all other countries, is it not true we havethe best medical available here?

Anonymous said...

Socialized medicine is not the answer. One just has to look to Canada to see what a disaster it is. It is not cheap either.
Canadians that can afford it get surgery in the States to avoid long waiting times.

Larry James said...

owldog and Anonymous, thanks for your posts.

We are likely talking apples and oranges here.

If you are asking do we have the most advanced medical treatment with the most cutting edge technology and procedures and the most advanced research, yes, we likely do have the best. Problem is all of these remarkable things don't reach everyone--just those who are covered or can afford it. As some of my physician friends tell me, "We have the best system money can buy."

When we compare the US to Canada, we need to compare national health outcomes. While we are at it, we need to compeare outcomes with European nations. The incredibly long lines, etc. are part of a mythology of anti-universal health groups. We already wait in this country and if we are poor the wait can be months. What people who use this logic are saying is that we can't cover everyone or provide for everyone because the waits would be too long. This is not a quality issue, it is a quantity issue.

We can do better by our people.

Anonymous said...

We are having our own health care crisis in the state of Georgia. Nearly 2,000 kids lost their Medicaid coverage because of a tightening of state criteria. These are kids with special needs who can't afford NOT to have therapy or NOT to have medical care.

Our governor brags about a 500-million surplus in the state budget without revealing what the real cost of that surplus was.

And the frustrating part is, he's leading by 20 points in the polls!

The only reason our health insurance is as good as it is is because my husband works for the feds. And even at that, he had to switch to a PPO to get decent coverage.

My son has autism. I also have a chronic bladder condition. I'm training for another career so I can make more money to be able to pay for both of us to have decent health care.

The system is broken and I don't know how to fix it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Becky said...

I used the health care system in London about a decade ago when I was there for a semester of school. I was naive at the time and don't really know exactly what happened, or how it was all taken care of. What I DO know is that I got excellent emergency room treatment, a large prescription of codine, and I don't remember paying anything for it- except maybe a slight copay of some kind- not even sure if I paid that. It sure was the easiest (and definitely cheapest) doctor visit I have ever experienced.

Larry James said...

Becky, thanks for your post.

Your experience points up the fact that much of the opposition that we face in moving to a national health plan is supported by a good deal of mythology that serves the purposes of the status quo.

There is a reason why every other developed nation in the world has better national health outcomes than we do here in the US while spending far less than do we.

j. doloris said...

I am a young college student interested in urban ministry and just social change in general. I want to know how to find the information on my state like you often discuss on this blog. Is this available to everyone or does it take digging to get a hold of?