Happiness of life consists not in fighting battles, but in avoiding them. A masterly retreat is in itself a victory. How many of us try to understand this simple fact The answer is quite discouraging. One important reason for this blindfolded impression of happy living without caring for our future is the lack of vision. We are so much engrossed in our day to day life that we forget to plan at a macro level. We only tend to get away with micro level planning for the immediate few days to come or a fortnight. But, planning for a better life takes a lot of energy and mental activity which we are not ready to expend. It is only when we come across harsh realties; we repent for not planning about those contingencies earlier.
One such important area being neglected by us is our personal insurance and particularly the health insurance. Cars can be repaired, business can be rebuilt but a human body is always beyond repair. If emergencies are not met immediately, the damage can either be physical disability or death. In such cases, prior insurance can prove to be a boon to avoid or decrease the effect of casualties. Unfortunately, this simple point is not being understood by many people.
According to the national statistics around 43 million i.e. around 16% of the Americans do not have health insurance.
Majority of the uninsured constitute the working class adults. Young single mothers, fast food employees and disabled persons who are not in a position to secure a private insurance due to the high premium rates are among the victims. The warehouse workers spend their first three months of joining their duty without any insurance waiting for the sanction from their employers for the cover. Even the Federal insurance sector neglects these working classes because by definition they earn above the annual wage rate. It is reluctant to understand the fact that the working classes are not in a position to bear the private insurance premiums.
Next in line are the youngsters in the age group of 18-24 years (approximately 39%). These people simply assume that they are quite healthy and throw away their money in partying and dating. They just feel that insurance premiums are a financial burden to them which do not reap any promising returns. But the reality is that they are more risk prone due to the bad effects of addiction to alcohol, cigarettes, reckless driving and irresponsible attitude. The third in priority are the elderly people for whom insurance is a must to cover their day-to-day medical bills also. But since they are retired and they have not planned at their young age, many aged people are suffering with many diseases which are curable if only they had money in hand or insurance policies on their names. The last but not the least in the list is the children, who are in a better off position when compared to all the above categories, in the context of health insurance. But then, many of the kids are also uninsured or underinsured. Here, one must remember that they are the future of our nation and a gamble with insurance in their case is a gamble with the nations future.
The reasons for such high rate of uninsured or underinsured in all the age groups can be:
High rates of insurance premiums and the hidden charges extracted by the private insurance companies.
Non-accountability of the federal officers in implementing the public insurance programs effectively.
The negligence from the side of the employers to insure their workers in order to avoid premium payment
Laid back attitude of the uninsured resulting in a gamble with the future.
Whatever the reasons, the result is that the risk rates are quite alarming with Pennsylvania leading the rally having 14.2% of uninsured people.
However, some efforts are being directed in the recent days to wipe out gamble with insurance. In Pennsylvania, a program by name: Cover all Pennsylvanians (CAP) is being initiated. Its aim is to provide basic health coverage to small business people and uninsured through a tie up with the private insurance agencies. CAP charges a premium of $130 from the employer and $10 - $70 (On a sliding scale depending on their income), from the working individual annually for businesses that have workers less than 50 in number with a wage rate less than the state annual wage rate.
These benefits should also be extended to other businesses and for other places to expand the gambit of health insurance.
Further, Government is also inducing the banks to start up with health savings accounts by offering tax exemptions on these accounts. This effort is expected to fetch high results. Where the money in these accounts is $15 million presently, with cover of around 5% of the insured, it is expected to rise to $25 million by 2010. But this rise is not uniform at all places. In States like Texas, Florida, Wisconsin and Illinois, the rate of growth is approximately 5 - 7% owing to the higher interest rates the bankers in these states are offering on the deposits of the health saving accounts. The number of bankers offering these services has also increased. In States like North Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii and Vermont, the interest rates on these deposits are quite discouraging within 2 - 4% with no tax exemption benefits and are unable to catch up the pace with the nation. Fewer than 2% of the bankers in these states are offering these services.
Public welfare organizations namely:
American Assessment of retired persons,
American Children defense fund,
American Medical Assessment support;
are also striving to improve the situation. These organizations encourage the doctors to look after the Medicaid sponsored patients by eliminating the 10% cut on the fees charged. This step is sure to reap better services from the medical practitioners for the poor and middle classes, only if they get themselves insured. Lot more has to be done to ensure 100% health insurance cover. As we all know, we are in the third stage of demographic transition wherein the death rate is high and the birth rate is low. If we do not take necessary precautionary steps to face future contingencies, the earning population is sure to be reduced and we need to depend on other nations for even small tasks.
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