Medical Bankruptcy and Moral Scandal

Paul Harvey

Here's a quiz for you: What's the worst threat to traditional families today?

a) gay marriage
b) the secular humanist establishment
c) medical bankruptcy -- the leading cause of bankruptcy in America, due largely to the increasing, and inevitable, failures of the private insurance system.

America's medical insurance system is a moral scandal dwarfing the obsesssions of the evangelical right. The current economic crisis is simply exposing the inevitable weaknesses of the system as it exists, as the New York Times reports today. There is hope; as evangelical groups like the NAE broaden their concerns to take on issues of environmental degradation and economic concern, perhaps it will be easier to build some consensus towards addressing the growing class inequality in health care access -- all the more so now that corporate America, suffering under the burden of privatized health care costs (see the index under "industry, auto"), is becoming an advocate for a more public system of health care. Perhaps, unlike 1994-95, "Harry and Louise" will be laughed off the screen this time.

ASHLAND, Ohio — As jobless numbers reach levels not seen in 25 years, another crisis is unfolding for millions of people who lost their health insurance along with their jobs, joining the ranks of the uninsured.

Jeffrey D. Austen was among the 275 people who worked at the factory, in Ashland, Ohio. Mr. Austen and several other former workers said they had decided to put off medical procedures.

The crisis is on display here. Starla D. Darling, 27, was pregnant when she learned that her insurance coverage was about to end. She rushed to the hospital, took a medication to induce labor and then had an emergency Caesarean section, in the hope that her Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan would pay for the delivery.

Wendy R. Carter, 41, who recently lost her job and her health benefits, is struggling to pay $12,942 in bills for a partial
hysterectomy at a local hospital. Her daughter, Betsy A. Carter, 19, has pain in her lower right jaw, where a wisdom tooth is growing in. But she has not seen a dentist because she has no health insurance.

Ms. Darling and Wendy Carter are among 275 people who worked at an Archway cookie factory here in north central Ohio. The company provided excellent health benefits. But the plant shut down abruptly this fall, leaving workers without coverage, like millions of people battered by the worst economic crisis since the

About 10.3 million Americans were unemployed in November, according to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of unemployed has increased by 2.8 million, or 36 percent, since January of this year, and by 4.3 million, or 71 percent, since January 2001.

Most people are covered through the workplace, so when they lose their jobs, they lose their health benefits. On average, for each jobless worker who has lost insurance, at least one child or spouse covered under the same policy has also lost protection, public health experts said.

Read the rest here.


Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Hmm, censorship again when it comes to comments.
deg said…
Boo hoo. Cry me a river.
Paul Harvey said…
Dear anonymous: As I've said over and over and over again on this blog, comments that are a) irrelevant and b) offensive and/or written to personally attack rather than to engage the issue at hand, will be removed (the removed comment was a personal attack directed at me, and had nothing to do with the post at hand).
Anonymous said…
Fair enough, Mr. Harvey. Those guidelines seem appropriate for a public forum.

I am relatively new to this blog and a young historian in the field. My comment above on censorship had more to do with the removal of another comment on a previous post involving Jack Black as Jesus. I actually read the comment that was removed, and it was neither a) irrelevant nor b) offensive or an ad hominem attack. When I asked for an explanation, none was forthcoming. That troubled me, and when I saw that another comment was deleted, I responded as above. I thank you for your answer in this case and hope that my concern is understandable in light of the prior decision to remove a comment.

For me, "deg," your lack of sympathy for concerns over the removal of comments simply serves as more fodder for conservatives who decry the liberal academy's celebration of toleration except when it comes to conservative views. While I disagree with their persecution mentality, they seem at least reasonable in light of comments such as yours.

But perhaps, "deg," you do not care about their reasonableness either.

Anonymous 1
deg said…
I like the fight you got in you, I'll give you that.
Paul Harvey said…
Deg: Ah yes, but the "fight" in him is a little too George Forman, swinging wildly every which way (random accusations of censorship, personal attacks on complete strangers) and not enough Muhammad Ali, waiting for the right moment in the 8th round to strike. So, to Anonymous, some advice: take off the blog police uniform, and float like a butterfly.
Anonymous said…
Alas, what I thought was a chance for thoughtful dialogue--i.e. the blog administrator had responded in a moderate tone to a perceived issue of censorship, and I attempted to respond in kind--has apparently passed with the most recent comment.

To be sure, my decision to remain "anonymous" might have confused the editor, but I have made neither a "random accusation" nor a "personal attack" as a different anonymous author allegedly has. I condone neither. This is only my fourth post--twice in asking for an explanation of the previous deletion of a comment in the Jack Black thread, and now twice in this thread. Recognizing as a relatively new reader that I have a small sample pool, I nevertheless found two examples of censorship worth questioning.

Indeed, Mr. Harvey, your gratuitous reference to the blog police seems misplaced. Those who delete comments from others are the one "policing" this blog, not I. I'll shed my uniform when you do.

If nothing else, Mr. Harvey, you've justified my decision to post anonymously. Heaven forbid that you might also police my career. That may not sting, but I'm floating now :)
deg said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
deg said…
"Censorship" is a loaded term and you should know that, anonymous. It invokes book burning and decency trials, not reasonable editing of personal, ideological, and baseless attacks.

Paul is a hell of an editor who has devoted significant portions of his time to this blog and the scholarship of the American religious past. To be frank, he's earned the right to edit out crap that no one wants to read and no one - conservatives or liberals - benefits from (e.g. personal attacks and character assassinations). I’ll back him up on that every time, with appropriate snark.

Perhaps all this hubbub is over your phrasing and the fact that you didn't lay out your motives up front. If you wanted “thoughtful dialogue” on such matters, then you should have phrased your inquiry and follow-ups better, something along the lines of:

"Dear editor. I'm curious about the removal of the previously posted comments. I am new to this blog and want to ensure that I am offering appropriate and relevant comments. I appreciate any information you can provide about posting protocol. Although I am a young historian and new to the field, I look forward to contributing my own thoughts to the blog when appropriate.
Thank you very much!


Anonymous (not the one who posted the previous comments)"

Writing that you're "disappointed" that the editor decided to remove a tasteless, irrelevant comment that, as you admit "showed thin skin and a lack of humor," then demanding explanation for such "censorship" as if you're entitled to it, then acting as if you’re a victim who is bravely enduring . . . well, I'm sorry, but come on.

As far as my “reasonableness” goes, I let my work, my colleagues, and my students speak for me. As far as "providing fodder for conservatives" goes, conservatives already have enough fodder without my contributions. Holiday dinners with my family – and a dissertation I should probably be working on right now – have taught me that much.