As Obama Seeks Healthcare Reform, Now’s the Time to Stand Up, Make Your Voice Heard: You Do Want Solid, Affordable Benefits & to Enjoy Excellent Health, Don’t You?

August 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Anne Holmes, Blog, Health & Fitness, Work, Money & Retirement

My friend Shelby — who was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes a couple of years ago, at the same time I was  —  confided to me last week that this year, for the first time in her 50+ years, she’s actually put off her normal healthcare maintenance appointments.

She says it’s not because she doesn’t believe in their value. That wouldn’t make sense, as not only does she have diabetes, but her husband’s a 10-year cancer survivor, whose tumor was discovered during a routine physical…  She knows the value of regular health maintenance appointments!

No, her decision is based on financial necessity: she’s been laid off, so money is tight. Oh, she still has health insurance through COBRA, but she says she’s saving that for real medical emergencies. On a preventive care basis, she can’t afford the out of pocket portion her insurance expects her to pay.

This has to be a “bitter pill” for Shelby, after all, she’s:

Woman undergoing a mammogram of the right breast
Image via Wikipedia
  • A proud, professional woman who formerly enjoyed a better than average income.
  • A woman who made sure her kids always got their vaccinations and annual physicals on time
  • A leader in her church and serves on several community boards.

Shelby’s crossing her fingers that she’ll manage to stay healthy, even though she’s:

  • Skipped her annual mammogram
  • Postponed her semi-annual dental check-up, despite the fact that she has a tooth that twinges now and then
  • Canceled her annual eye exam, an even bigger “no-no” for those with diabetes

No, she’s Not Self-Destructive…

Don’t go dismissing Shelby as a self-destructive woman with a secret death wish. That would be misreading the situation: Shelby understands how important it is to practice good health maintenance. After all, she and I met at a hospital-run diabetes management program our doctors referred us to when we were both newly diagnosed.

Back then I was impressed that she attacked the task of learning how to live with diabetes with the discipline of a trained military officer, a technique she learned from her father, who was a career military man.

She’s Still Doing What She Can…

That’s why Shelby hasn’t decided she also needs to:

  • Stop taking her prescription meds for high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Drop her physical exercise program
  • Abandon her recently acquired healthy eating habits

Shelby’s Not the Only One With These Healthcare Consequences

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll performed in July 2009, you, too, may have made a similar cost-based medical decision in the past 12 months. Although — in a case of some good news — this survey, showed slightly more improved results over the same poll performed in this past spring.

Which indicates that, to some degree,  Americans may now be  finding some relief from their difficulties in affording health care. Still, fully half of all adults (49 percent) say they have put off some sort of needed care over the past twelve months because of its cost.

Their survey, which attempted to determine whether or not Americans are putting off healthcare because of COST,  reported the following:

  • 33% – Relied on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs rather than go see a doctor
  • 29% – Skipped dental care or checkups
  • 27% – Put off or postponed needed health care
  • 21% – Skipped recommended medical treatment
  • 20% – Did not fill a prescription for medicine
  • 15% – Cut pills in half or skipped medicine
  • 7% –  Had problems getting mental health care

Clearly There’s a Crying Need for Healthcare Reform Here in the United States

Thankfully, Shelby’s a friend, and not a former employee. If she had worked for me, I’d feel even more upset about her situation. Why? As the owner of a small business, I’m the one who manages the  healthcare coverage options for our firm.

I know how hard it has been to keep offering reasonable healthcare coverages for our group, while still managing costs. Our small group premiums have risen a minimum of 11% annually for the past ten years.  Some years the increase has been in excess of 20%.

Given that I do manage an employee benefits portfolio, I have a huge interest in following the news related to healthcare reform. But I suspect that even if my job didn’t involve managing healthcare options, I’d still be interested . After all, I’m also a consumer of these same services.

No matter which side of the benefits desk you claim as yours, if you use health insurance to help defray your medical expenses you know the last few years have been a challenge:  health insurance premiums have risen drastically year after year, no matter whether your employer is a major player or a small “mom and pop” establishment.

No matter where you sit, healthcare costs are out of control.

But This Isn’t Really News, Is It?

The fact is, the United States is the only developed nation on the planet that does not provide universal health care coverage.  We spend twice as much per capita on health care as any other country and yet, when you look at our results — in terms of measurable aspects, such as life expectancy and infant survival — our results are far worse.

Almost a year ago, an article in the the Washington Post that addressed healthcare reform noted that Americans were struggling to pay medical bills and  accumulating medical debt at an increasing rate.

Why? There’s Many Reasons US Healthcare Costs Are Out of Control, And Many Places You Can Point Your Finger for Blame.

Among them:

  • Doctors who over-prescribe drugs and perform unnecessary and/or redundant tests – and the patients who expect this: We all know the name of the game is “cover your rear.” No doc wants to be found negligent. And many patients demand to be sent home with a script. It seems it’s a lot easier for us to pop pills than to actually get our acts together and change our diets, take action to reduce our stress or get more exercise…
  • Insurance companies and health maintenance organizations (HMOs): According to The Commonwealth Fund, which bills itself as a private foundation working toward a high performance health system, “the United States leads all industrialized countries in the share of national health care expenditures devoted to insurance administration. The U.S. share is over 30 percent greater than Germany’s and more than three times that of Japan.”
  • Consumers who “go naked” whether by choice or necessity – that is, people who don’t carry any sort of health insurance, but who are legally guaranteed treatment in hospital emergency rooms: Somebody’s got to pay for the services they receive – and it’s those of us with insurance who do. Hospital costs for these “pro bono” emergency room services — with ER’s offering the most expensive sort of care —  are passed along to you, the insured consumers. But you already knew that, right?
  • The drug companies, which you most likely already suspect are one of the most powerful players in the healthcare industry, though perhaps you didn’t realize just how powerful. How about this:
    • Earlier this month, the National Public Radio program “All Things Considered” reported that during the second quarter of this year — right around the time when the healthcare reform issues started really heating up in Washington — PhRMA (that’s the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), along with its member companies — the big name firm like Pfizer ($5.5 million), Amgen, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline (about $3 million each), together spent $40 million lobbying Congress. That’s more than $3 million each week.
    • If you think they were lobbying for better use of naturopathic healthcare methods (as in herbal remedies and nutritional solutions), government-negotiated drug prices or reimportation of drugs from Canada… you must be smoking one of those funny herbal cigarettes.
    • In its favor, however, you need to know that PhRMA teamed up with Families USA to lobby Congress to expand Medicaid to cover everyone who meets the federal definition of poverty and those who make up to 33 percent more, which is about $14,000 a year in income for individuals. Adults without children, whether single or married, would qualify for the first time under the proposed expansion. Cynically, some see this as a great PR move whose sole reason for being is to generate positive public impression…

What Action Can You Take – Right Now?

The First Step is to Talk to Your Legislators:

The healthcare reform debate has been centered in Washington these past few months, but it’s coming home again. Your House members have already left Washington DC for their August break, and your Senators will be heading home soon.

Which means you’ll have a chance to talk to your representative in person at town-hall meetings, or when they come to town to speak in hospitals or at meetings with small business owners.

Now’s your chance to meet with them in person and tell them  what you’d like to see happening.

  • This is especially imperative if you don’t live in a major metropolitan area.
  • You know rural communities are not as well served medically — and it’s especially hard to find doctors who are trained in rural medicine.
  • The lack of health care in small towns is a problem Congress is just beginning to address.

Shelby says the biggest questions she’ll be talking to her legislators about will be related to:

  • Lack of affordable health insurance
  • Skyrocketing medication costs
  • Coverage of preexisting conditions – something that’s especially concerning if you have to find a new insurance provider, as she does…

But whether you live in an urban or rural community, keep this in mind: As a (reasonably) healthy Boomer you’ve got decades ahead of you — and you want to make sure you’re able to stay in good health to enjoy those years.

Here’s some help to get you up to speed:

The Next Step — Just as Important to Your Healthy Outcome  — Is to Take Personal Charge of Your Life and Health:

That’s what Shelby’s just started doing, and she’s excited by how well it’s working.  She started working on her mindset and motivation right around the time she realized she was probably going to lose her job.  Along with pulling out her resume and starting to look at what she needed to do to shine it up…

Thankfully she remembered me talking about my friend Gina Gaudio-Graves, her Miracle Motivational Package, and how it had helped me set goals and put a plan in motion to reach them. So she followed my link in an earlier post and got a copy for herself…

As a result Shelby says she’s been thrilled to discover how to shift her mindset to see abundance in all things — even in losing her job and having to learn how to — temporarily — live on a reduced income.

In fact, she’s all fired up about a book she’s writing and the business she’s starting — all based on sharing the knowledge and expertise she’s acquired over a lifetime… But that’s a topic for another post!

(If you want a great product to help you set out your goals and put together a plan to achieve them,  check out Gina’s fantastic Miracle Motivational Package. You’ll quickly find that you can use it to achieve anything – health and wellness, wealth, success. And just ask Shelby — it really works!)

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24 Responses to “As Obama Seeks Healthcare Reform, Now’s the Time to Stand Up, Make Your Voice Heard: You Do Want Solid, Affordable Benefits & to Enjoy Excellent Health, Don’t You?”

  1. Carrie Tucker on August 1st, 2009 10:29 pm

    I love President Obama, I don’t hold it against him that he does not understand how messed up our system is.

    I won’t get on a soap box, but wanted to encourage your friend Shelby to get all the facts about cholesterol lowering medication. It is highly likely that she is damaging her health unnecessarily. Very few people are unable to lower their cholesterol with natural means, and if you use statins, you should at least be supplementing CoQ10 because they are causing you a very dangerous deficiency.

    I also studied vaccination thoroughly when my first child was born. In Europe they don’t have such a problem reporting the facts as we do here in the US. I’ll tell you what though, I will go to prison before I agree to allow my children to be injected with vitality reducing profit making chemicals! Do the research and then argue with me. Anthony Robbins is a great source of anti vaccine education!

    Got on my soap box anyway. The working class poor better get smart about health building or suffer the consequences. The drug companies finance all the medical schools in this country. Do you think we will see a change soon. I for one do not! The powers that be won’t have that, it will take a fight. They want to maintain their profit, and they don’t care about what is best for our citizens.

    Visualize world peace, and visualize ethical people treating people with ethical health care. Our visionaries are our only hope.

    Many blessings,

  2. Anne Holmes on August 2nd, 2009 2:55 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Carrie!

    This whole healthcare reform issue is complicated and won’t be easily fixed — it’s been coming on for too long – And many good people before Obama have already taken a shot at it, but given up.

    The working class poor situation is a real concern. See

    Same thing for people living in rural areas as I do. It is MUCH harder to attract good healthcare providers to the country. Right now, for example, our new rural hospital, just 1 year old, is up for sale – long story short, the larger regionals are trying to choke it out.

    Yet when we know there’s only a “golden hour” to get lifesaving treatment to heart attack victims – our rural hospitals become lifesavers…even if they end up treating the patient and then sending them on to a regional health center for more specialized care. Same thing with farm accidents, of course.

    So yes, let’s start visualizing the healthcare reform we need!


  3. Jim@Short Term Life Insurance on August 14th, 2009 7:46 am

    I agree that the whole health care situation is a total mess and needs to be sorted out asap. It won’t be easy because it has been manifesting for some time now. Hopefully Obama will sort it out – it will possibly been one of the biggest tests his administartion will have to deal with. It needs a resolution pretty quick because a lot of people are fed up with all the false promises that have gone before.

  4. Changing Bags on August 27th, 2009 5:39 am

    It’s trying times again at the moment isn’t it!?
    Simple troubles like this with the health system certainly don;t make it any easier when one’s health doesn’t stay up to scratch!
    It’s in Obama’s hands now, but who knows how long it will take before we see a real difference?

  5. David@Medical Insurance on November 8th, 2009 4:19 am

    The way it sounds a health care bill or “mandate” is going to pass. It sounds as though everyone in the Country will be required to have some form of health insurance or else you’ll be penalized. Better contact my legislator. It seems if I do the right things to stay healthy is what I should be focusing on. Good post, surprised there’s not more commentary.

  6. Monica@ Employer's Liability Insurance on November 18th, 2009 9:58 am

    I believe, today, there are barriers to entry for new insurers as well as impediments that prevent individuals and non-employed families from acquired affordable care given their risk levels. By pooling individuals into cooperatives, families will be able to effectively extend the COBRA benefits they have with group coverage into the future, making health care much more affordable for all.

  7. Wilbert on December 4th, 2009 10:27 am

    The situation with health care is indeed very messy. There is an imediate need for action from the government. The fact they are considering making health insurance mandatory is great although there will be some implications around this. Hopefully Obama will take the necessary steps and take care of this issue because it is impacting a lot of people.

  8. Gustav@ LPN Travel Nursing on January 5th, 2010 6:48 pm

    I made my voice heard many times during the “alleged health care debate” and it fell on deaf ears. Obama instructed his Democratic stooges to get his bill through, no matter what. Unfortunately, that’s what they did. Even fellow Democrats cringed at what went on with the “bribery” to get sufficient votes, and it made me feel so disgusted with our system, well not the system, but the pompus asses we put in office. I for one am just as guilty, and have changed my party affiliation. This new health plan is going to hurt seniors who have worked their behinds off, and now when they need help, some government buffoon will decide if they should receive a certain treatment. I could go on and write a book here, but no one would want to read it. my 2c.

  9. Insurance Quotes News on January 14th, 2010 4:43 pm

    The health care reform bill approved by the Senate December would do more than any proposal yet to reduce the deficit over time – by an estimated $132 billion over 10 years and by substantially more thereafter.

  10. Musical Instruments on January 18th, 2010 1:00 pm

    From what I’m hearing the insurance will not be available till 2014 and there is much debate on what it is going to cost. Hearing more than it is going to increase the deficit. I don’t see how it would reduce it if you are providing new services to the uninsured.

  11. Peter Moss on March 17th, 2010 8:46 pm

    It does not matter if your health care system is private or government sponsored.
    Both types are abused. Here in Canada, doctors overcharge the system, and insurance companies are milking it. So whatever solution Obama or his successor comes up with, it will be prone to abuses. The questions is which system is less prone to abuses.

  12. Jerry @ Frankenstein Costumes on April 4th, 2010 7:40 am

    I come from New Zealand and it’s been quite interesting watching this unfold from outside of it. I can see benefits to Obama’s plan but I also see that there are some real concerns. I guess only time will tell if its successful.

  13. Katie@Post Offices on April 9th, 2010 8:17 am

    Look it’s simple. Its just wrong for people to be treated like animals because they can’t afford health insurance or they can’t get accepted. Whing boom bam..end of story. Im glad they got it passed.

  14. Jane@Canada Online Dating on May 25th, 2010 6:40 am

    The health care reform bill approved by the Senate December would do more than any proposal yet to reduce the deficit over time – by an estimated $132 billion over 10 years and by substantially more thereafter.

  15. Bob Jenson@Wellington Web Design on June 3rd, 2010 7:58 pm

    I’m also from New Zealand but still very much concerned with his health bill. I guess time will tell but you know something’s up when (apparently) doctors are advised not to talk about it.

  16. buy smoke deter on June 10th, 2010 11:01 pm

    I think this is a serious topic, and it’s going to take a complete overhaul. I think there are so many factors that all come into place, that it’s going to take a lot to try and get this handled. I think it’s sad there are so many older americans having to settle for not getting the medication they need. We live in a great country, and we can help everyone….but when it comes to helping home….not so much

  17. Dave Simmons@Abdominal Trainers on June 22nd, 2010 7:22 am

    Here in England there are a lot of things wrong with the national health service but I would hate to see what it would be like without it.

    I just lost a front tooth and they want the equivalent of $3000 to sort it our privately which is crazy.

  18. tc@Tamarac Urgent Care on June 29th, 2010 2:53 pm

    It’s a crying shame indeed. It’s a nice thought to think at this point we can make a change, but what can so few do against the corporate monster? I’ve had affordable, (soocialized) healthcare when living abroad and it was nice.

  19. jenny@ sports bra on July 6th, 2010 10:15 pm

    “Yes, you are right. This really needs to be fixed, either by Pres Obana or whoever can, the soonest. We cannot risk our own health just because we cannot afford it, someone should help us as we hep ourselves. And es, I want Solid,
    Affordable Benefits & to Enjoy Excellent Health!”

  20. infinity downline on July 9th, 2010 12:21 am

    Health care in this country is getting ridiculous. Its not even affordable anymore. They need to do something now.

  21. Alesandra @ carrot costume on August 13th, 2010 3:40 am

    President Obama backed Medicaid reimbursement increases to doctors in certain states, and supported language ensuring certain high-deductible health plans can be offered in the health exchange. This can really enhance the medical services. Nice decision by the president.

  22. Online Listings on October 11th, 2011 8:59 am

    I come from New Zealand and it’s been quite interesting watching this unfold from outside of it. I can see benefits to Obama’s plan but I also see that there are some real concerns. I guess only time will tell if its successful.

    Read more:

  23. Andry on February 27th, 2012 12:52 pm

    I come from New Zealand and it’s been quite interesting watching this unfold from outside of it. I can see benefits to Obama’s plan but I also see that there are some real concerns. I guess only time will tell if its successful.

  24. Jason@Affordable Dental Insurance on April 3rd, 2012 11:37 am

    29% are skipping dental care and checkups? Postponing and ignoring health care is dangerous. Preventative medicine is a good practice.

    People think they can put off dental and vision care but, they simply cannot. Gum disease, cavities, and other oral health issues can seriously affect your health. Infections can spread. It is imperative that people know this.

    The cost of healthcare is not a small one but, if you ignore it, it could cost you your life. Healthcare in our country needs to be affordable and a priority.