The rapidly escalating debate over healthcare reform prompted one reader to send a poignant and sobering response to my last post. It’s a reminder to us all that this debate is still about families and their ability to secure the healthcare coverage they need.
Tracey, a New Jersey mother, shared her frustration
with the current system and the worries she has for her young son, who has a rare form of leukemia. She has good insurance (for which she pays very high premiums) but knows that someday her son’s extensive care will reach the insurance company’s “lifetime maximum benefit.” She lives in fear of that day.
She writes: “I know that my insurance company is tabulating and calculating every penny expended on my son. One day, a few years from now, the insurance company’s ‘death panel’ will send me a letter that says: ‘Your son has reached his lifetime maximum benefit. He will not receive any further insurance coverage.’
And she continues: “Why won’t anyone address the real issue of the insurance companies making record profits (and they’ll continue to do so)?”
Unfortunately, concerns like Tracey’s are getting lost in the overall debate over healthcare reform. Some of that debate is vitriolic, but some of it is borne out of real concern by citizens.
In reality, Tracey raises an excellent point about the responsibilities of insurance companies when it comes to healthcare reform. Of course, no one industry is to blame for this broken system, but everyone must share in designing a better system for the future. So far, we’ve seen hospitals, physicians and pharmaceutical companies offer financial concessions to achieve healthcare reform, but not much from the insurance industry. There just doesn’t seem to be the political will to take on this interest group.
I believe healthcare reform is desperately needed and I’m frustrated that the discussion has gone so far off track. We need to get back on course because the current system remains unsustainable – for hospitals and others who provide the care, for our government, and most importantly, for people like Tracey and her son who face the crushing costs and others pressures from their insurance companies.