The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 22, 2012

Health care forum focuses on access

MANKATO — Whether you prefer a single-payer system, are fully on board with the Affordable Care Act, or would simply like to go back to the way things were before “Obamacare,” you’d have gotten your fill of health care discussion at Saturday’s public forum at Minnesota State University.

A sparse crowd was on hand — a few dozen people — but the discussion was interesting.

Former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger, Dr. Dave Dvorak from Physicians for a National Health Program, and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health’s Lynn Blewett spent two hours picking apart the current health care system, how things will change under the Affordable Care Act, and how things could be potentially more efficient with even further reform.

“The system costs too much, produces too little and is breaking our backs financially,” Durenberger said.

Right now, although some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are already being implemented, there are still 49 million people in the U.S. who do not have insurance. In 2010 alone, 7 million people who had insurance through their employer lost that insurance when they lost their jobs.

On top of that, millions more fall under what experts refer to as “underinsured.” These are people who have insurance, but their coverage is poor or their deductible is very high.

“These are people who, when sick, are going to seriously think twice before seeking help,” Dvorak said.

He recounted a story of a single mother who was ill and needed costly medical testing. She worked full time as a waitress and had she only had $1,800. The tests she needed would cost thousands, and her insurance required a $5,000 deductible. Those tests would wipe out her bank account and leave her with crippling medical bills.

This is what it means to be underinsured. And the only ones to benefit from that are insurance companies.

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