34 Million Say They Have Lost Loved Ones Under the Current System; Georgia Under Medicare for All; Mental Health Services Are Hard to Find

Welcome to this week’s edition of “We’ve Got You Covered,” a weekly tipsheet designed to highlight key news about Medicare for All and call out the biggest industry lies and falsehoods about universal health care. Please send tips, feedback and questions to Mike Stankiewicz at mstankiewicz@citizen.org or (202) 588-7779.

34 MILLION SAY THEY HAVE LOST A LOVED ONE BECAUSE OF HEALTH CARE EXPENSES

Inability to pay for health care has affected more Americans than you probably realize.

A new Gallup survey found that an astounding 34 million Americans know of at least one friend or family member who has died in the past five years after being unable to afford medical treatments. The report also found that people making under $40,000 per year were more than twice as likely to know someone who has died because they couldn’t afford care than were people making $100,000 or more per year.

“In the United States, we treat basic health care as a privilege based on your wealth, employment status or zip code,” Melinda St. Louis, director of Public Citizen’s Medicare for All campaign, told Common Dreams. “These tragic consequences of our for-profit health care system are why a majority of Americans support Medicare for All, where everyone would have guaranteed access to the health care they need.”

The study also highlighted racial inequalities under the current for-profit insurance model, finding that 20% of nonwhite U.S. adults know someone who has died due to unaffordable treatment compared to 9% of white adults.

Another telling number: Just 6.6% of people over 65 know someone who has died because of the inability to afford treatment. That’s probably because people over 65 get care through Medicare.

GEORGIA UNDER MEDICARE FOR ALL

Georgia’s uninsured rate is higher than the national average (13% compared to 9%) and its Medicaid coverage rate is lower because of the state’s refusal to expand the program (17% compared to 21%).

Additionally, the Peach State’s uninsured rate rose in 2018, making it the state with the third-highest uninsured rate, behind only Texas and Oklahoma.

Although Georgia residents struggle with the reality of these difficult statistics, state lawmakers are trying to make accessing health care even more difficult by imposing Medicaid work requirements, which undoubtedly will lead to even fewer people having access to care.

Under Medicare for All, every Georgian (and U.S. resident) would be covered and would not need to worry about state-level partisan politics playing with their health care.

REMINDER: According to studies, finding psychiatric services from the profit-based insurance industry is nearly impossible.

In one study, researchers called 360 psychiatrists on BCBS’ in-network provider lists in three cities. Some of the phone numbers on the list were for fast-food locations and retail locations, and when some psychiatrists’ offices were reached, many of the doctors didn’t take BCBS insurance or weren’t taking new patients. Additionally, the researchers were unable to make appointments with 74% of providers on the lists.

This happens as BCBS published its own projections last week that millennials can expect a shorter life span than Gen Xers, primarily due to unmet mental health needs and a lack of access to drug rehabilitation treatment.

Under Medicare for All, every American would have the same insurance, so there would be no question whether a provider would take Medicare, removing a major hassle that plagues those who seek mental health services.

To speak with a Medicare for All policy expert, or if you have questions about Public Citizen’s work, please contact Mike Stankiewicz at mstankiewicz@citizen.org or (202) 588-7779.