Katie Harp has an article in the Princeton Daily Clarion on the subject of the need for affordable healthcare for Hoosiers. Meanwhile, Taking Down Words has a link to a story by Tim Evans in the Indy Star reporting that more Hoosiers are living in poverty. (Update The longer story by Mr. Evans is here.
According to the Clarion article, Hoosiers have the highest rate of “medical bankruptcies” per capita in the nation. How they determine what constitutes a “medical bankruptcy” versus other kinds, I’m not sure since the federal bankruptcy law doesn’t really categorize causation of the bankruptcy, but presumably somebody has sifted through bankruptcy petitions and analyzed what portion of the scheduled debts are related to medical expenses. Something like 9-14% of Hoosiers are uninsured.
According to the article, insurance providers have to subsidize the uninsured and, therefore, $950 of a family’s annual insurance premium is used to pay for uninsured residents. I’m curious about how this subsidy works — is there some kind of mandated uninsured subsidy fund that insurance companies have to kick in to or is there some other kind of mechanism at work? To receive Medicaid, a family of 4 has to have an income of less than $20,000. So, presumably the uninsured we’re talking about are families that make more than $20,000 per year, but not enough to afford medical insurance. This article also cites less than favorable economic conditions. Between 2000 and 2004, Indiana lost 138,000 jobs and food stamps and TANF more than doubled in the last 5 years.
This ties into the Tim Evans report. The number of Hoosiers living below the federal poverty level in 2005 increased to 12.2%, up from 10.8% in 2004 and up from 9.5% in 2000. And even that doesn’t really tell the story. The poverty guidelines are outdated and unrealistic. According to Lisa Travis, advocacy and education coordinator for the Indiana Institute for Working Families, A person needs to earn nearly 200 percent of the poverty level just to make ends meet in Indiana.
The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Stop the presses.
I almost forgot to mention Troy “I’ll never vote for it” Woodruff’s solution to the problem of uninsured and underinsured Hoosiers.
Also not helping the situation, Hoosiers have some of the worst health habits in the nation, Labrecque said. Indiana ranks second in the number of smokers and ninth in obesity.
State Rep. Troy Woodruff said these reasons prompted him to ask the FSSA to conduct a public forum in Princeton.
â€œSouthern Indiana has a lot of smokers and a lot of children who take a lot of medicine,â€ he said. â€œWe need to take personal responsibility for ourselves and start thinking about lifestyle changes that can lead to solutions.â€
I’m all for living healthy and unhealthy habits certainly contribute to healthcare costs, but if Woodruff’s approach to the healthcare situation in Indiana relies primarily on telling people that they’re fat, lazy nicotine addicts with hypochondriac children who ought to shape up, then the voters of southern Indiana have yet another reason to throw him out on his ear.
But is he wrong?
He is wrong in his focus — at least if he was fairly quoted. There are a lot of people with unhealthy lifestyles who have insurance and a lot of people in good shape who don’t have it. The lifestyle factor drives up prices, but doesn’t necessarily correlate to who can get the insurance.
Maybe if Woodruff is suggesting a system where the State subsidizes or provides insurance contingent upon some kind of exercise and diet compliance. (Not that I’d necessarily agree with that, but it would at least exhibit an attempt to connect pieces of the puzzle.) As it is, I think what Woodruff is doing is trying to kick up some dust to excuse himself as a legislator from getting very involved with the problem presented by a significant number of uninsured and underinsured Hoosiers.
As long as fat people don’t get treated in the ER and injured motorcyclists without helmets are not treated at public expense, then, I’m all for ‘lifestyle solutions’
I remember when working on self-funded healthcare at a previous job, they said that less than 1% of the workers used 90% of the money going out to healthcare. Now, some of these were things like unpreventable cancer, but some were things like heart disease caused by smoking and being overweight.
I really think there needs to be a national healthcare system, but I also think the choices you make should adjust your cost. If you are overweight (I am), then you pay more. Same with smoking, etc. It has been up to me to lose weight, and until 6 months ago, I chose not to for 20 years. Others shouldn’t have to pay for my decision.
The Bush adminstration is funneling money into abstinence only program, so we already have our public money going to advocate a personal moral choice.To be fair, maybe immoral people shouldnt have to pay taxes and can be on our own. We could apply through our local Congressman .
I said nothing about moral choices, just choices. We can choose to do many things that affect our healthcare costs, and I think we should support those choices that benefit the country as a whole. To use your example about sex, I’d say give away condoms! Doing that, along with other incentives, helps matters on several levels:
1. Lowers pregnacy costs
2. Lowers STD costs / disease spread
3. Slows population growth
I’m sure there are 20 more beyond those. Same can be said with doing things to enourage people to lose weight or stop smoking. What BAD comes of that?
As I stood in line at the gas n’ sip today, the guy in front of my was buying a pack of cigarettes. He flipped his wallet open and there was his “Hoosier Healthwise” (medicaid) card. He was buying his cigarettes in the most expensive way possible (name-brand, one pack at a time, from a gas station), and coming up short on ability to buy his own medical insurance. He can’t be the only one. I’m all for giving a hand, but some people don’t even look like they’re trying.
Smokers’ kids are sicker because they breathe too much second hand smoke. Smokers themselves tend to not only get more illnesses, but also feel more pain when they’re injured, and recover slower. I can usually predict with an impressive level of accuracy whether non-narcotic pain medication is going to satisfactorily relieve a patient’s pain just by how much smoke I smell on their clothes. I’m not sure if this is an effect of the cigarettes (neurotoxicity and tissue-inhibiting properties of the toxins in cigarettes, perhaps), or if people who feel more pain and linger longer in their ill symptoms just naturally gravitate toward cigarettes. But these things are a significant part of a physicians’ practice. And it’s costing everyone a lot of money, either in taxes, or in higher premiums, or lost productivity. We all pay to support these peoples’ addictions.
alison hall says
listen you jerk! YOUR refinery killrd my child father that is something you took away from me! I was to white to get aid in porter county for my child even though im half native american and not BLACK!!! And now after all the taxes I have paid for DEATH AND MY OWN SUFFERING you cynical son of a bitch your going to tell me I NEED to quite smoking SCREW YOU!!! I worked two jobs and went to college full time after my son’s father lost his life and Indiana did not help me the federal government did but no not Indiana. I cannot believe some ass wipe is going to tell me how to live my live while he sites his fat ass in a mansion while I look for more financial aid to finish school and you look down upon me more than you have before. I did not ask for his father to die but by god as a hoosier i thought i would get some help. (WRONG) I did marry an IU alumni with a great future but it will never excuse the fact that you are lazy cynical and totally disregardind of the hoosiers. Why dont you all go down with former gov ryan i didnt vote this year. What was there to vote for oh i forgot this is now a dictatoriship not a democracy.
Brent Morris says
Leave their smoking and flab on the health insurance coverage. It’s their money and life. Should we care?
Jonas Hodge says
I really think there needs to be a national healthcare system, but I also think the choices you make should adjust your cost. If you are overweight (I am), then you pay more. Same with smoking, etc. It has been up to me to lose weight, and until 6 months ago, I chose not to for 20 years. Others shouldnâ€™t have to pay for my decision.
Dennis Kaiser says
Of the 101 metropolitan areas with a population of at least 500,000, Indianapolis ranked No. 59 for the highest percentage of people living below poverty. That’s up from a ranking of No. 66 in 2007 and No. 64 in 2006.