February 07, 2005

Cheaper to die young

The recent news about the relationship between medical problems and bankruptcy seems pretty obvious. If you're too sick or injured to work, you will likely lose your insurance or be unable to make your co-payments. A couple thousand dollars debt can spiral out of control when you borrow to pay it. Many people, once they start seeing the bills roll in, quit going to the doctor or filling prescriptions. Their health gets worse, and if they don't declare bankruptcy, when they die the hospital takes the house.
If the President thinks that borrowing money to pay the bills is a good idea, and since he won this election, it looks like most people agree with him. Certainly credit cards and mortgage lenders have been doing brisk business. All this debt is a millstone around the economy.
Congress is debating making it more difficult to declare bankruptcy. Bankruptcy lawyer William J. McLeod writes in the Boston Globe: The credit card industry is spending millions trying to convince Congress that the average American in debt is an irresponsible buffoon with an entitlement complex. Debtors cannot afford lobbyists. Before we let Congress shut the bankruptcy court doors on thousands of Americans, consider where you would be if your household lost a wage earner and then call your member of Congress.
Also from the Boston Globe, some interesting numbers on what Americans say they want from the government. By 2003, 79 percent of Americans said in a Washington Post/ABC News poll they support healthcare coverage for everyone even if meant raising taxes.
The poll asked, ''Which would you prefer: The current insurance system in the United States, in which most people get their health insurance from private employers, but some people have no insurance, OR, a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that's run by the government and financed by taxpayers?"
Universal healthcare won, 62 percent to 33 percent.
Getting even more specific, a 2003 Pew poll asked people if they favored the government ''guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means repealing most of the recent tax cuts."
Universal healthcare won, 67 percent to 26 percent.

You and I may think that's important, but here's what George wants us to think is worth paying for.

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