HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Problems for Uninsured

The NewsHour had a report on how an increasing number of individual's with health insurance cannot afford to pay co-pays and deductibles and are putting off necessary care.  Here is a brief excerpt:

BETTY ANN BOWSER: The Orozcos pay $800 a month for their employer-based coverage through Allen's job. But after a $1,500 per person deductible, it only covers 80 percent for most surgical procedures and diagnostic tests. And they couldn't afford their share of both her surgery and treatment for his lung infection.

HEATHER OROZCO: Eight hundred dollars is a huge amount of money for us every month. We're on one income. I'm in school, and Allen's our sole provider right now, and it's very difficult. We're on a very limited budget.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Allen works for a mortgage company that has cut bonuses and raises because business is down.

ALLEN OROZCO: It's absolutely frustrating, but to have to sit there and think, "Let's see, should I take care of my wife's gallbladder that bothers her every day, or do I need to take care of my asthma? Can I do my best to suck it up a little longer?"

HEATHER OROZCO: It's gotten to the point where at least two to three times a week I'm so nauseous I wake up in the middle of the night and I'm extremely nauseated. And, you know, I have to get up in the morning. I have to go to class. I have the kids to get ready for school.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Dr. Leah Patton is the Orozco's primary care physician.

DR. LEAH PATTON, Nashville Medical Group: I worry about her and many, many, many others.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Every day she has patients who are putting off seeing her...

DR. LEAH PATTON: That one's a little bit infected.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: ... because of a $10 or $20 co-pay required by their insurance.

PATIENT: I can feel it. I can feel a lump.

BETTY ANN BOWSER: Some patients also have co-pays on each of their prescription drugs that can exceed $100 each. . . . .

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