Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Health Care and Katrina

Just in time for Health Care Week, Globe Columnist Derrick Z. Jackson has a column today about the state of our nation's healthcare system. Here's an excerpt:

Last week, as Bush conducted damage control over the negligent federal response to Katrina, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a report indicating that healthcare premiums continue to increase at triple the rate of inflation. The average cost of family health coverage is now $10,880, surpassing the gross earnings of someone working full time at the federal minimum wage.

In the Bush years, the cost of health insurance has skyrocketed by 73 percent. While Bush has given vastly disproportionate shares of his tax cuts to corporations and wealthy individuals under the guise that the rich will create jobs, not only has there been no rise in income for the average American; business firms, especially small ones, are cutting workers out of healthcare. Since Bush took office, the percentage of companies that offer health insurance has dropped from 69 percent to 60 percent.
Jackson's central idea is that the failure to protect patients at public hospitals in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina parallels the failure of our healthcare system to protect the poor and otherwise uninsured. The article ends on a cautionary note: "The travesty of the hospitals in New Orleans is only a prelude to the disaster that is about to strike healthcare in America." The whole column is definitely worth reading.