By ERIN THOMPSON
In the United States, some people who get sick can go to the doctor without worrying about the bill. Other people are not so lucky. That’s because getting healthcare in the United States depends a lot on whether or not you have health insurance.
As politicians in Washington debate how to reform healthcare, people around the country die because they do not get the healthcare they need. A study by The Commonwealth Fund estimates that 101,000 deaths per year in the United States could be prevented with access to good healthcare. This summer, healthcare reform made headlines daily as President Barack Obama pushed members of Congress to pass legislation to reform the healthcare system. Nothing has been decided yet, so expect more debate this fall.
What Kind of Healthcare Do You Have?
National Health Insurance (in France)
Name: Jeanne Voignier
Home: Toulouse, France
“My parents pay around 100 euros ($143) for each adult and 40 euros ($57) for my sister and me each year as a supplement to our social security benefits, which allows us to go to any doctor or dentist without worries. For example, my family got reimbursed almost entirely for the cost of my braces. In France, the social security system allows everyone, including the unemployed, retired, disabled and immigrant population the right to access medical care.”
Employee Health Insurance
Name: Ricardo Guthrie
Job: University professor
Home: Flagstaff, Arizona
Ricardo’s employer pays most of the fees for his family’s health insurance to the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Arizona insurance company. “My healthcare, provided by Northern Arizona University, covers our family of four. I pay $200 monthly for medical, vision, and dental care.”
No Health Insurance
Name: Adam Widger
Job: Store manager
Home: Chadron, Nebraska
“I haven’t been to a doctor in 5 years. I wouldn’t go unless it were an absolute need situation. I hope for the best, and I haven’t got bitten yet. However, I assume it will be a matter of time. Whenever I do need help, I contact my friends in the medical field or go online to try and find a cheap, easy solution.”
Name: Ai Chen Cheng
Job: Retired wholesale worker
Home: New York, New York
Ai Chen’s healthcare is covered 80 percent by Medicare, and 20 percent by Oxford, a private insurance company. Medicare is the government health insurance for people over the age of 65 and for people with disabilities. With Medicare, there are no fees paid by the patient for regular checkups or emergency room care. For visits to specialists, there is a $5 fee. Dental checkups and cleanings are free but other dental services are not covered.