Today was the rate filing deadline for insurers planning on participating in Colorado's new health insurance exchange, or "marketplace." For months, the media has been anticipating "rate shock" as insurers raise premiums to meet new requirements, such as not sell junk insurance.
When the filings are released publicly by the Division of Insurance in a few days we will know the scope of the "rate shock," but will we really be shocked to see yet another double-digit increase in premiums?
In the consumer marketplace, businesses and vendors are free to charge whatever they wish to charge for the product or service they offer. Customers may shop around for better deals, and competing businesses may even engage in price wars to earn higher sales. But in the arena of our lives in which we often have the least control or information, we are at the mercy of health care profiteers who routinely charge whatever the traffic will bear. While these costs may not always be directly passed along to patients who have private or public insurance coverage, it will be difficult for us to begin controlling costs in our health care system with so many providers nationally and in Colorado taking advantage of so little oversight of their industry.
Health Care for All Colorado is the only organization dedicated to single payer in the state of Colorado. We work on outreach to other groups and individuals who support issues of social justice, as in “Do what is right for the public good” and you and the community benefit. We are happy to share our views and listen to others, although one Mother’s Day, I did receive a T-shirt saying “Everyone is entitled to my opinion.”
So why am I telling you this?
Lannie Garrett, one of the owners of Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret will open her night club on Tuesday evening, May 21 for a benefit for HCAC and a silent auction for the benefit of the HCAC Foundation (Foundation donations are tax-deductible). You are all invited to this fun-filled FUNdraiser with entertainment provided by the 17th Avenue All Stars, a nationally renowned a cappella group.
Today happens to be National Teachers Day. If you haven’t thanked a teacher you know, either yours, your kid’s, or someone you happen to know, you should. Being an educator is often a difficult task -- rewarded not by untold monetary riches, but by knowing that the world has been made a better place through the education of our children. It is in that spirit of improving society through the guarantee of a public good that we at Health Care for All Colorado are focused on achieving universal health care.
National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6 to raise awareness of the important role nurses play in society. It marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, which ends on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. Nursing is now the nation's largest health profession, nurses have been rated as the most trusted professionals by Gallup for 11 consecutive years, and nurses are recognized as leaders in the health care industry who provide safe, affordable, efficient,and quality care. Nurses are first, and foremost, advocates for their patients, and The ultimate goal of all nursing is to achieve better quality healthcare for all.
Because they work so closely with patients, Colorado's nurses know as well as anyone that the current health care system is not working for all Coloradans. Nurses see the costs of our current dysfunctional system as experienced by the patients they care for:
- treatment deferred or coverage denied by insurance companies until it is too late
- costly insurance premiums and the cost of prescription drugs so expensive that they consume a family's entire budget
- Coloradans forced to use the emergency room for simple, non-urgent conditions because they cannot afford to see a health care provider.
Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, commemorates the 1862 victory at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican war. Although the war was not over until six years later, winning this battle provided a great symbolic victory. The victory also bolstered the resistance movement, wherein 2000 loyal Mexicans triumphed over the 6000 well prepared, well resourced French troops.
Cinco de Mayo celebrations across the state allow all Coloradans to celebrate the Mexican Culture and Heritage with their Latino brothers and sisters. For HCAC, working to bring universal access to health care to all Coloradans, it also provides an opportunity to focus on the complex issue of health disparity. According to the 2011 census statistics, over 21% of Coloradans are Latino and according to indicators of population health, this group experiences significant differences in health outcomes.
Many geeks like me spend a moment or two to celebrate “Star Wars Day” today -- May 4th (as in “‘May the Fourth’ Be With You”). Who doesn’t love a clever pun?
Yet rather than change my Facebook profile picture to Yoda or tool around the house all day in my Jedi bathrobe, I wondered.... While fighting for comprehensive health care reform over the past six years, it often struck me how often the most seemingly unrelated topics or issues somehow always tied back to fundamental problems in our health care system. Could there also be a tie-in between Star Wars and our dysfunctional private health insurance market?
To answer that question, perhaps we need to know what the definition of the word “is” is, to borrow a phrase from our not-too-distant history. The U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights marks May 3 as World Press Freedom Day, and as such it recognizes that freedom of the press is a right that is critical to free people everywhere. So how in the world could we ever not believe that health care – also listed on the U.N. declaration of Human Rights drafted in 1948 – would not also be a human right?
I was glancing through the Economist Magazine's Pocket World of Figures. We all know (or should) that the USA spends the most on health care (17.9% GDP in 2010). But did you know that the USA is not even listed in the 23 nations with the lowest infant mortality? The one thing all the other nations have in common is a national health plan that covers everyone.
Colorado ranks 23rd out of the 50 U.S. states in terms of our infant mortality rate. We lose 200 more babies every year due to infant mortality than the 1st ranked state – New Hampshire. In the Colorado Health Foundation report linked above, we learn some shocking realities:
Our US Health Care System is not well. It is in a state of crisis. Today is May 1st, or "May Day" in many cultures. However, the term "mayday" is more applicable to our situation -- an international signal for distress.
While the ACA tried to patch things up, it didn't solve many core problems, and our path of unsustainability and irrational injustice continues unabated.