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Americans struggling without health care

July 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Last year, half of all Americans skipped their annual physical. Fifty percent didn't get their blood pressure checked. For many the cost is just too much. The next step in America's health care plan may not be found in a cure -- but rather, in paying for prevention.Carol Peloquin is part of a growing demographic -- young and uninsured. She just graduated with a Masters in social work.

"I went to the emergency room and was slammed with a $2,500 bill," said Peloquin.

Carol is not alone. College grads will be joining 14 million people who are out of work.

Approximately 45.6 million Americans are uninsured, and 8.1 million are children. Even 1 in 5 people who are working aren't covered. President Obama wants universal health care with an option for workers to continue their current employer-offered benefits, but for Scott Dauphinee, it's too late.

After a liver transplant, Scott now has to take 15 pills a day. He pays $1,000 a month on health insurance. He and his wife were $60,000 in the red and were forced into bankruptcy.

"That's the price you have to pay. We did what we had to do," said Scott's wife, Judith Ann Dauphinee.

So what are your options? If you gave up on COBRA because it was too pricey you should check again. Instead of charging you 102 percent of the cost now COBRA users get a 65 percent subsidy for 9 months. Also check out your states coverage policy. You may qualify for continuation coverage based on your past job. HIPPA also offers insurance for some people who lose group coverage.

"It is a life long thing now for the rest of my life with all of these pills," said Scott Dauphinee.

Carol and Scott do not want a handout. They want help from a system that needs it as well.

"Do something. There's got to be something that can be done," said Peloquin.

One of hardest hit demographics is Hispanics. Thirty-two percent do not have health insurance.

Web Extra Information: Sick and Uninsured

HEALTH CARE IN AMERICA:

More than 47 million American's do not have health insurance, while 8.1 million are children. The cost of health care is increasing every year. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2008, it cost $12,700 per employer for a health plan covering a family of four. This number is 12 percent higher than the amount paid in 2007.

On top of the inflating costs, co-pays and deductible costs are rising and are being required at the time of treatment. The combination of all these costs is limiting the use of health care by United States citizens.

OBAMA'S PLAN:

President Obama wants to reform the health care system by lowering costs, improving quality, and holding insurance companies accountable. Obama then plans to promote scientific and technological advancements. His third step is to improve preventive care. He says we need to stay healthy, and he promotes cancer screenings and better nutrition, according to BarackObama.com.

TIPS FOR BUYING HEALTH INSURANCE:

It can be easy to purchase health insurance online, but one should be cautious of who to trust with their personal information. U.S. News and World Report offers the following tips to keep in mind when purchasing health insurance:

Shop with a licensed agent: An agent can help you expand your options. Agents can also answer questions without bias, give you advice, and help you find the best deal to meet your needs. Licensed agents must follow the guidelines given to them by insurance companies and the government. Make sure your agent gives you access to their state license number. Buying insurance through an agent does not cost any more than buying it directly from the companies.

  • Phone support: Make sure your agent gives you easy access to his/her phone number and is available to answer your calls and questions. The phone number should not take extraneous effort to retrieve. You should be able to call your agent back even after your purchase should you find the need.
  • Quality Ratings: Companies will typically display the high ratings they receive from consumer reports such as the Better Business Bureau. A high A.M. Best Company rating also tells you the company is credible in the insurance industry.

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