Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Health insurance killing rural America, farmers say

Rural Americans are disproportionately unable to afford health insurance coverage and often resort to none, Howard Berkes reports for National Public Radio. Many rural residents are self-employed or work for small businesses and farms so spreading the risk is not possible, and individuals are left with increasing deductibles.

The situation is frustrating for Larry Harbour, who owns and operates a business in Broken Bow, Neb. He found that even basic insurance for himself and his wife runs $24,000 to $40,000 a year, plus a $2,000 deductible. Now, they go without. “It's like playing Russian roulette,” he told Berkes. “Every day, we wonder when it's going to happen — if something's going to happen, are we able to afford it?"

Jon Bailey, of the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs, reports that doctor shortages, increased small businesses, the risks associated with farming and ranching, and a rural population that tends to be older and sicker severely limits coverage. "The two biggest determinants of un-insurance in this country are the owner of a small business or employee of a small business. And that's more common in rural areas."

Health insurance may be even more necessary in rural areas because lack of coverage and lack of access means preventive care is neglected. Rural residents then only seek medical care when a small health problem becomes severe. Bailey says the kind of rural health insurance you have can be a big influence on future health problems. Medicare beneficiary and farmer Linus Solberg, right (Berkes photo), is firm in his opinion: "Health insurance is killing rural America … We can put people on the moon. We can go up and fix this Hubble satellite that we have up there. And we can't have health care for all these people. It's ridiculous." (Read more)


Unknown said...

Whatever direction health care reform takes in this country, let all of us hope it is not an extended version of Medicare. History has shown us that government-run health care is not the most efficient and economical way to go. For example, an Associated Press story late last year reported the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 70 percent of Medicare payments in 2008 for patient medical supplies for the elderly and disabled should not have been approved. While some think this is a symptom of fraud, it is probably just the result of a poorly organized, inefficient operation. For a more complete discussion of why Medicare is not a good model for national health care reform, please read: "Medicare doesn't solve the problem ... it IS the problem" at http://electriccityweblog.com/

Anonymous said...

What happend to personal responsibility - if we can't afford it, where do we cut expenses so that we can? As farmers, we work hard for health insurance to be a priority in our budget. Establishing an HSA was the best thing we could have done to reduce premiums, something we have yet to hear mentioned in any of the healthcare bills.
The government has failed to manage Medicare and Social Security on a balanced budget, so far it looks like the Healthcare Reform is headed down the same path. People need to help themselves first - not look to the government for a solution.

dallis basel said...

Just because you don't think Medicare works well doesn't mean we shouldn't try. How do we as individuals stop insurance companies from declaring us as having a preconcieved illness. What do you do? I hear the argument 'don't let the goverment get between me and my doctor.' What a crock. Read your policy. If it is like mine the insurance company overrides anything your doctor wants. The company has final say. I would rather have a government doctor with final say rather than a pennypinching bureaucrat in an insurance office

WyomingJoe said...

When will Americans learn? Our neighbors to the North in Canada have national healthcare and every Canadian I've ever talked to thinks the American system is absolutely insane and inhumane. We need to grow up and recognize that health care shouldn't be a privilege only for those who can afford it, and that all of society benefits when everyone has access to health care.