Over the past week, I've received quite an education on the connection between poverty and lack of health insurance. I was co-host of a “news hunt” at NewsTrust, a vibrant media literacy project online. The NT community looked for the best journalism on health care, and read and reviewed a wide range of health care stories. Those that stayed with me most explained how the lives of the working poor have been destroyed when they lose health insurance.
Solving poverty is a complex issue, but one within our control if we act widely and directly on it. One solution to poverty in the United States is to provide universal health coverage. The working poor, who amount to roughly 80% of the 45 million uninsured in the U.S., will benefit most from this.
During the news hunt, I read and reviewed 36 health care stories (including a podcast and a documentary) from many sources. Based on what I've read, I know now that there is a consistent, tragic pattern that occurs when the working poor lose health insurance. The basic steps are:
1. working adult gets sick and loses job
2. after losing job, they lose their health insurance
3. they can no longer afford medications, so they get sicker
4. since they have no insurance, they receive either no care at all or substandard health care which they have to pay for themselves
5. the bills pile up
6. still sick, they cannot work, so they lose their home and belongings because any money they have goes to basic subsistence and paying medical bills
7. very few rebound, and many die
Providing health insurance, available no matter their employment status, would solve this horrible situation. It would help the working poor in multiple ways. It would give them access to any needed medical care for themselves and their dependents. They would stay healthy and be able to look for and get additional work. If sick workers could no longer work, they would still get care, which is the right and compassionate thing to provide.
When people are healthy, they can still contribute meaningfully to their communities; when many in one community are unemployed and sick, their community suffers along with them. With health insurance, adults can take care of the children who depend on them; without it, their children may lose, either temporarily or permanently, their mother's or father's care.
During this economic downturn, prospects for the working poor will absolutely become more dire. Adding guaranteed, universal health insurance to the poverty equation would directly improve the quality of their lives. To read some of the top rated stories from NewsTrust's health care news hunt and decide on this issue for yourself, click here.
THANK YOU to those who left comments here that they too would join Blog Action Day:
- Crafty Green Poet writes on "Poverty and the Environment".
- Lily Hydrangea penned "Blogging for Poverty".
- Nipun at 50 Word Fiction has an "uber short" take on the theme.
- Rachel's post is titled "My skin or my soul" over at The Slow-Cooked Sentence.