Health Insurance Protection In Georgia

In Georgia, state laws protect your access to healthcare even if you get sick or would not otherwise have ready access to health care. Here’s a rundown on current scenarios in Georgia’s health care system.

Group Health Plans

There is such a thing nondiscrimination in a group health plan, which means that if you are covered under a company-backed policy, you cannot be denied or be limited in your access to healthcare because of you health status. You also cannot be made to pay more because of your current state of being.

Similarly, if you are a small company trying to buy group health insurance, you cannot be turned down because of any factor that may affect the use of health services by anyone in your company. Therefore, you as an employer should be sold health plan on a guaranteed basis.

As it is, Georgia limits health insurance carriers from excluding pre-existing conditions. Of course, there are rules on what can be counted as a pre-existing condition and how long anyone must wait before a new plan begins to pay for the care of that condition. In general, if you have a new plan, your old coverage can be credited as the exclusion period of your pre-existing condition under certain conditions.

Conversion Policy

If for any reason you lost your fully insured group health plan, you have the right to buy an individual health insurance from the same company that provided the group coverage, provided that you were fully covered for six months under that group plan.

However, there are conversion policies and you can be charged premiums. Thankfully, you do not have to be slapped with a new exclusion period for pre-existing conditions.

Health Insurance Between Jobs

Even after you leave your job, you still remain in your employer’s group health plan for a period of time, which is called COBRA or state continuation coverage. This continuation helps if you are waiting for a new health plan or are between jobs.

Low To Modest Income Health Insurance

If you can’t afford health insurance, you may qualify for free health coverage or a subsidized plan. Georgia’s Medicaid program offers free health care for pregnant women, low-income families, and elderly or disabled individuals with little or no income. Median income families in Atlanta can opt for private family health insurance programs readily available in the market.

Cancer Treatment For The Uninsured Or Underinsured

If you are at risk for cancer but do not have health insurance or are underinsured, you may still avail of screening and treatment under the Georgia Cancer Screening

Program, which provides free screening for qualified Georgians. Some women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer may qualify for Medicaid through this program.

Questions That You May Want To Ask Your Georgia Health Insurance Agent

When purchasing health insurance, it is important that you take your time, and get coverage that you can afford, and that will cover your basic healthcare needs. To do that, there are some questions that you should ask your health insurance agent, just to be sure you have the answers you need to make a well-informed decision about your family’s healthcare coverage.

One of the most common questions that people ask when looking for health insurance coverage concerns the deductible. Since the deductible is the amount of money that you will be required to pay out of your pocket before your health insurance will pay, this is something that should be on the top of your list. You can save money by choosing a higher deductible, but it can be risky, depending on your financial situation. You also will want to find out when your deductible period starts over, is an annual deductible, or how does that work? By knowing this up front, you will better be able to plan accordingly.

You should also find out about co-insurance, and what exactly its impact will be on you. After you have met your deductible, your co-insurance amount determines how much of your medical expenses will be covered by your health insurance, and how much you will pay out of your own pocket. Typically, after you have paid a certain amount in co-insurance, all of your medical expenses will be covered in full by your health insurance.

Co-pays can also be confusing, as the amount you pay at each visit, after your deductible has been met, may very from provider to provider. Those co-pays can really add up over time, so try to find a good deal here.

You also need to talk to your insurance agent about your lifetime coverage on your policy, as most health insurance policies will only cover a certain amount of expenses, and after that, you will be required to pay them out of pocket. This usually isn’t an issue, except for those people who have serious medical conditions, or are involved in some sort of major accident, but it is still good to know what your limits are.

If you have children, it may be worth your time to also find out more information about health saving accounts, which could help you with meeting your deductibles and co-pays as needed.

When you purchase health insurance, make certain that you fully understand the policy, before making a final decision. If you see something that you are unfamiliar with, or terms that you don’t know, ask your insurance agent to explain them to you, and if he or she is unwilling to take the time to do so, then you might want to think about picking another agent!

Do you want to learn more about how to choose health insurance that is right for you? I have just completed my brand new guide titled ‘Don’t Buy Insurance in Georgia Until You Read This. What the Insurance Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know‘

It Is the Best and Only Solution to Healthcare Coverage in America

There is No Solution to the Problem of Employee Healthcare Coverage

What have we learned? As we remember, frustratingly, businesses are getting squeezed and weighed down by the economy, forcing budget cuts and job cuts and – benefit cuts.

And now, in addition to employee benefits just being cut to save money, the surviving benefits are now having their costs more and more shared between the business and the employee. More and more financial responsibility for healthcare benefits is being shifted from the financially constrained company to the financially fearful employee.

And here is the financially fearful employee, not alone in your home, not alone in your neighborhood, not alone in your city, no alone in your state, not alone in America, are they?

Once again, over 8 in 10 of us have no savings, have less income than before and would have no home if we were to suddenly have to go without a paycheck for two or three months, due to job loss or an unexpected accident or illness and to compound this sharp pressure, now we are covering more of our health insurance, aren’t we?

And disgusting, yet absolutely predictably, cash-strapped and over exposed employees in Georgia are filing for bankruptcy left and right.

Why? Because traditional health benefits are expensive, especially in this economy and what’s more – these benefits are insufficient!

Hard working, middle class America right here are finding that not only is covering more of their health benefits putting more and more financial fear and gnawing stress in their gut, to their horror they are finding that when life strikes, their traditional coverage is leaving them indecent and exposed and coming out of their shallow pocket to cover deep expenses!
My God

6 in 10 bankruptcies in this entire country are due to medical expenses and a mass of people equivalent to five times the city of Atlanta are being forced into medical bankruptcy every single year and 8 in 10 of all the medically bankrupt have health insurance!

Obviously, traditional health benefits are insufficient and now certainly the obvious question is this – is there any solutions at all to this massive problem of expensive and dangerous traditional employee healthcare coverage?

Yes and yes and clearly the solution is this – voluntary benefits.

And now, I may be wrong, let’s examine the facts. Voluntary benefits solve the business’s financial problem by being free to offer and simultaneously saving the company much needed tax dollars. Plus, voluntary employee benefits solve the employee’s financial problem by being generally extremely affordable and tailored for this economy.

Furthermore, voluntary health benefits are a custom fit for the employee’s budget, choices, and needs for their family. Finally, voluntary benefits solve the employee’s healthcare problems by covering and securing them in the vulnerable life points that health insurance simply will never and can never cover for your family.

Top 5 Colleges in Georgia

The State of Georgia is known as the “Peach State” and is home to about 70 universities, technical colleges and colleges. It is also home to over 45 private higher learning institutions.

Among the many colleges are state supported schools, public, nonsectarian private and religious universities. The institutions grant degrees, graduate and undergraduate, in many fields.

Below is a list of the top 5 colleges and universities in the state of Georgia:

University of Georgia

Founded by the Georgia General Assembly in 1801, the University of Georgia is located in Athens which is about 60 or so miles on the northeast of Atlanta. The University of Georgia has many great programs such as in the arts and music. The University comprises of 16 different colleges. One of the 16 is Grady College that administers the well-known Peabody Awards.

The University of Georgia offers about 140 baccalaureate, 91 doctoral and 124 masters majors among its academic programs. It is ranked as the 56th university in the US by the U.S News and World Report in its “Best Colleges 2011.”

Georgia Institute of Technology

The Georgia Institute of Technology, fondly called Georgia Tech, was founded on the 13th of October 1885. It is located in downtown Atlanta which is the capital of Georgia. Georgia Tech is known for being a leader in the fields of science, economics and technology. It also offers degree courses in architecture, business and government.

Emory University

Founded in 1836 by the Methodist Church, Emory University is in Oxford which is a suburban town a few miles from Atlanta. Best known for its medicine and healthcare courses, the university which started as a college has different centers for research for studies in law, medicine, healthcare and other disciplines.

The U.S. News and World Report has ranked Emory University as the 20th best university in the US in its ratings the “Best Colleges of 2011.” The college’s programs in social psychology, midwifery, African history, public health and biomedical engineering are ranked in the top 10.

Georgia State University

Georgia State University was founded as Georgia’s “School of Commerce” in 1913. Located in downtown Atlanta, it is the second largest university in Georgia. It is well-known for its science, law and business programs. The Georgia State University is also the institution of choice for a diverse number of students from all over the State or Georgia, all other states in the US and of approximately 145 other countries.

University of West Georgia

The University of West Georgia is a public institution founded in 1906 and has a campus in Newman. It was named as one of the best colleges in the southeast. The Princeton Review has named the university as one of America’s best value. The University of West Georgia offer more than 100 programs of study and has an accreditation with the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The University of West Georgia is known to be committed to high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs.

Relocating to Georgia? Where to Find a Job in Georgia

Georgia – State With a Vibrant Business Environment

Georgia is known to the world for being home to some of the world’s biggest brands. Coca Cola, CNN and The Home Depot are all companies that started with their base in Georgia and are still headquartered here. The state has a vibrant business culture and environment that is still attracting investments from all across the globe. If Georgia were to be a separate country, it would have been the twenty eighth largest economy in the world. That said, there is understandably a huge amount of people relocating to Georgia. More than 100,000 people move to the state each making Georgia among the top 10 fastest growing states in the U.S.

Living in Georgia

The cost of living in Georgia is lower than the average US metro area. The real estate is very affordable with the average price of a home currently $129,200 in the Atlanta area according the National Association of Realtors in Q1 of 2009. Georgia offers state of the art healthcare with its statewide network of 188 hospitals. The state is also home to the fourth largest education system in the US, which includes 13 state universities. The weather in Georgia is a classic with subtropical climates. The summers are nicely warm and the winters mild and pleasant. In summary, those relocating to Georgia can expect a relatively high quality of life with affordable living costs, good healthcare and education and nice weather.

Where to Find a Job in Georgia

Big Business in Georgia

Atlanta is the biggest metropolis in the state and the city that headquarters fifteen Fortune 500 companies and twenty six Fortune 1000 companies. Some notable brands that are present here apart from the ones mentioned above are UPS, SunTrust Banks, Southern Company and AFLAC. There are more than 1,700 companies in Georgia that are headquartered internationally. This has led to many foreigners relocating to Georgia. Since Georgia has such a variety of innovative companies and world-class brands it offers a unique and diverse array of job opportunities in virtually all industries. Some of the largest and most well known employers in Georgia job sites’ are listed below.

o Coca-Cola Company: TheCoca-ColaCompany.com
o The Home Depot: Careers.HomeDepot.com
o UPS: UPSJobs.ManageHR.com
o AFLAC: Aflac.com

Find a Job in Georgia Using Job Search Sites

Georgia is truly a land of opportunities offering variety of job options. Atlanta is the prime business hub and many of the job opportunities available in Georgia will be found there. There are companies advertising everywhere to attract qualified professionals. A great place to start perusing current Atlanta job openings is on the Internet for the shear sake of convenience.

Just visit some top job search sites and you will see hundreds of Georgia jobs online. Some of the best local job search sites online are listed below. Use this list as a starting point in your Georgia job search. To simplify your search and avoid missing possible job opportunities, make sure you sign up for email notifications when new jobs that match your specified criteria are posted.

o Beyond: Georgia Job Listings
o Jobing.com: Georgia Jobs
o SimplyHired: Georgia.Jobamatic.com

Where to Find Government Jobs in Georgia

The state also has a large number of Army, Navy and Air force bases which encourages the related industries to set up their shops here. Robins Air Force base located in Warner Robins, GA is the largest industrial complex in Georgia employing over 25, 000 people. Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem are two of the army bases there. They are both located in Atlanta. Atlanta also has the largest concentration of federal government offices outside of Washington D.C. making it an excellent location for those interested in a career in government. Learn more about the government bases and offices by visiting their sites.

o Robins.AF.mil
o McPherson.Army.mil
o Atlanta.FBI.gov
o Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: CDC.gov/employment

Where to Find Agriculture Jobs in Georgia

Georgia is also big on agriculture. The state produces poultry, pecans, peanuts, cotton, rye and more in huge quantities and this large-scale production been responsible for the establishment of big food processing companies in the state. The food processing industry currently employs more than 58,000 individuals in the state supporting 875 companies according to Georgia’s Food Processing Advisory Council. Timber is one of the major crops and hence furniture industry is another major contributor to the state’s economy. “The Peach State” also produces peaches of course, but ranks third in the country behind California and South Carolina for peach production – yet Georgia peaches are rumored to be the best tasting variety.

o Mission Foods: MissionFoodsFSC.com
o South Georgia Pecan Co: GeorgiaPecan.com

Find Travel & Tourism Jobs in Georgia

The tourism industry has done well in Georgia with a coastline on the east, mountains in the north and subtropical weather towards the southern part of the state. Georgia receives more than 48 million visitors to the state each year, making it the seventh most visited state in the U.S. The state supplies more than 209,000 tourism jobs. Atlanta and Savannah are very hot areas for tourism in Georgia.

Georgia is also home to some of the largest airlines in the US. Some of the airlines headquartered here include Delta Airlines, World Airways and Atlantic Southeast Airlines. Visit the sites below to learn more about travel and tourism companies in Georgia and explore their job openings currently available.

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St Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta and United Healthcare of Georgia Negotiating PPO Contracts

St Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia and United Healthcare are nearing the deadline for negotiating a new contract. This article will offer an explanation of some of the dynamics behind negotiations between Georgia health insurance companies and medical providers.

In addition to the currently ongoing negotiations between Aetna and Wellstar, there is a problem brewing between St. Joe and UHC. According to the Friday, July 31, 2009 edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a hospital spokesman is quoted as saying UHC had “all but walked away from the table”.

Roger Rollman, UHC spokesman, denied the company had pulled back from talks. “We haven’t closed any doors,” he said. “We’ve provided St. Joseph’s with multiple scenarios of increasing reimbursement and in each instance they’d come back and respond to us that this is what it’s got to be. It’s a take it or leave it and that’s not negotiations.” He declined to specify the percentage increase being sought but said it was in the “double digits.”

Sources tell me St. Joe wanted 24%.

That’s a hefty increase in anyone’s book.

So what happens if United HealthCare in Georgia (or any other carrier) caves and agrees to the increase? And what happens to UHC policyholders covered by PPO and HMO plans if negotiations collapse.

If UHC agree’s to their demands that means patients who are treated at St. Joe, both currently and in the future, will have to be charged a higher premium to cover the higher costs. Of course UHC has no way of knowing who will need treatment specifically at St. Joe in the future so the cost estimate will be added to total claims and spread out over all UHC insureds in Georgia.

That in itself is not so bad. But what about the domino effect?

If St. Joe get’s a big raise, what is to stop Wellstar, Tenet, Piedmont, Northside, Emory and others doing likewise? And why stop in Atlanta? How about the rest of the state?

No one seems to question if hospitals and doctors need more revenue. The only question is, how much is reasonable and then passing it on in the form of higher premiums.

Health insurance premiums rise in direct proportion to the underlying cost of health care. If the cost of health care jumps 24% in one year the premiums must follow.

No one wants that.

What happens to UHC policyholders if negotiations fail?

Not as much as you might imagine, but there will be an impact. Keep in mind that, many times the negotiations go to the 11th hour. Occasionally the contract will be allowed to expire and a new one will be inked within a week or so. Rarely do both parties pick up their bat and ball and go home.

St. Joe is a center of excellence, is ranked in the top 50 of hospitals in the United States, and is the only hospital in Georgia to receive that designation. Many employee’s and their dependents who are covered through the Georgia Merit System have their claims adjudicated by UHC, so there is a strong tie between St. Joe and UHC. Some 8500 patients, perhaps many of them Merit System covered participants, are treated by St. Joe and their affiliated clinics.

If this union dissolves, even for just a few days, this does not mean insureds of UHC can no longer receive treatment at St. Joe or their clinics. What is does mean is that St. Joe would be considered a non-par (out of network) facility. As such, claims submitted by St. Joe would be adjudicated and paid at the “going rate” for par providers and the patient would be responsible for the balance.

When a claim is submitted by a par provider, the claim is adjudicated and repriced (discounted) to reflect the agreed upon amount for the procedure. An EOB (explanation of benefits) is generated and provided to the insured and the provider. The EOB lists the procedure, the billed amount, the adjusted amount (reflecting the “discount”), the amount paid by the patient (if any) and the amount paid by the carrier.

Any (adjudicated and approved) remaining balance can legally be collected by the medical provider. Anything excess of that cannot UNLESS the bill is for a procedure that is not allowed under the health insurance policy. An example would be where a doctor order’s an MRI as part of a breast examination and the MRI is beyond the scope of what is considered medically necessary under the terms of the health insurance policy.

As a non-par provider, St. Joe would be able to charge patients whatever they wish, over and above the amount offered to other providers for the same procedure, and the patient is obligated to pay that difference. They are no longer protected by a legal contract that limits the amount a provider can charge, and collect, for services rendered.

Other than the possible loss of patients covered by UHC, there really is little incentive to bargain in good faith towards a resolution. If they fail to come to terms with UHC the patient loses and St. Joe can charge (and attempt to collect) whatever the market will bear.

Failing to reach an agreement will really benefit no one. Each party comes away with a black eye (although in most cases like this the public brands the insurance carrier as the bad guy). UHC “loses” a prominent Atlanta hospital. St. Joe “loses” access to at least some future business from UHC insureds.

Of course the patient is caught in the middle of all this and loses more than anyone.

My hope and belief is that there will be a happy ending although the road may be bumpy along the way.

Will Child-Only Georgia Health Insurance Plans Be Restored

When the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act became law, it changed the way health care was provided for millions of Americans. The health care reform law made several changes in the health insurance industry, but not all of them were intended.

One of the unintended changes in the insurance market involved child-only health care policies. In Georgia and other states, as the Affordable Care Act took hold, insurance companies stopped offering this type of healthcare plan.

Child-only Georgia health insurance plans are usually bought by parents who have an employer-provided health plan that does not include dependent coverage, or has dependent coverage they just can’t afford. Sometimes these plans are bought by parents who can’t get health coverage for themselves due to health reasons and still want to provide coverage for their children. And sometimes, these are bought by parents whose income does not qualify for their kids to get coverage under Medicaid or PeachCare.

How Did The Affordable Care Act Affect Child-Only Policies?

One of the mandates of the act is that no children with pre-existing conditions can be denied health coverage. In response to this mandate, insurance companies in various states, including Georgia, stopped offering new individual plans that only cover children.

According to the insurance industry, under this new requirement, parents could postpone getting health care coverage for their children until the kids were sick. The industry said that this would cause a rise in unprofitable health care plans and skyrocketing expenses for the insurance companies to budget.

Will Child-Only Georgia Health Insurance Plans Return?

An increasing number of states have made a move to address the loss of availability of child-only health care policies, either through legislation or regulation.

In Georgia, House Bill 1166 was presented to address this problem. HB 1166 plans to restore these child-only health policies that can be offered by the private Georgia health insurance market.

Legislation recently passed the House Insurance Committee that would require Georgia health insurance companies that sell individual health coverage to also offer child-only health care plans during an open enrollment period. The bill would permit insurance companies to impose a surcharge of 50 percent of the premium if a child has been without health coverage for more than 63 days prior to the application for coverage. By doing so, this will motivate parents to keep their children insured and not wait for their child to get sick before getting a Georgia health insurance plan.

According to Graham Thompson, executive director of the Georgia Association of Health Plans, the healthcare insurance industry has signed off on the legislation.

It was Cindy Zeldin, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, who pushed for the bill. She said that fixing up this unintended consequence of reform is relatively easy. This will help kids get the Georgia health insurance coverage they need since having health coverage is very important. Hospital admission records from 37 different states all showed the dire consequences of not covering children with health insurance. Regardless of the hospital where they were admitted, children without health insurance died 60 percent more often than kids who were covered. The reason for admitting them to the hospital did not alter the outcome, either. Children without health care, like adults, died more often even in the hospital. Zeldin also added, “It’s unfair that some parents are willing to pay for healthcare coverage for their kids, and it’s not available.”

The bill just covers one year (2013) since the problem will be taken care of by 2014 when federal health care reform will be totally implemented. By then, the new state-based Georgia health insurance market should be up and running with new Georgia health coverage options.

Finding A Healthcare Provider In-Network

In your search for a healthcare provider, many will tell you that they accept your insurance plan. Unfortunately, most of these providers will also conveniently neglect to mention the fact that though they do accept your insurance, they are not in your insurance company’s network. Though it may take a little extra work, finding a provider that is in-network is important. In-network means that they have a special relationship with your insurance defined by different types of contracts, which for your purposes will generally translate into lower costs.

The Problem

Choosing an out of network doctor is not necessarily a problem, but it means you are probably paying a lot more than you need to. Providers that are in-network almost always have special contracts with your insurance company that give you lower co-pays that will get your full money’s worth for the cost of insurance. Sometimes, it can be frustrating enough just finding a healthcare provider that is convenient for you and that accepts your health insurance. Once you find one that seems OK, it may be tempting to immediately end your search and choose them. However, the real problem is that while many healthcare providers will tell you that they accept your health insurance, many will not be in-network.

The Solution

If you are searching for a doctor of any kind, you are probably already be aware of how long it can take to get a simple answer on the phone to questions about your insurance, so the solution to this problem is better handled on your insurance company’s end. Luckily, depending on your company this can be a pretty simple fix. Simply go to their website and search around until you can find a list of in network healthcare providers. This is also great because it narrows down your list of choices, though hopefully not too much, giving you a shorter list of calls to make and a more manageable selection.

Why It’s Worth It

Ultimately, you invest in health insurance to save money on medical treatment, and to be sure you are covered in the event of a particularly costly medical problem. Your insurance company creates in-network contracts with healthcare providers to offer you the best possible prices. To not take advantage of these contracts is simply paying much more than you need to. So, as long as your insurance company offers enough choices, putting in the time to find care that is in-network is truly worth it.

How to Reduce Healthcare Costs

With the discussion of the Affordable Care Act, reductions in Medicare spending and changes in employer-offered healthcare, almost everyone is concerned about the costs of staying healthy. One issue is that for years, no one has treated healthcare like a commodity. We went to the doctor when we needed to and paid what they told us to. Now, to save money on healthcare, treat it like any other major purchase. Shop around and save.

Understand Your Insurance Plan

Many people end up paying more than they need to for healthcare because they simply don’t understand what their insurance policy covers. Knowing which doctors you can see, when you need a referral and what medications or treatments are covered can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Work with you healthcare provider to find less expensive alternatives and opt for preventative care to avoid costly illnesses.

Shop Around

Even if you have insurance, shop around when looking for major medical procedures. The cost of an MRI, for instance, can vary greatly depending on where the test is performed, what machinery is used, and when you have it done. Non-hospital facilities will often offer considerably lower rates in an effort to attract patients.

And don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. Some providers already reduce their fees for insurance companies, especially the ones that they are preferred providers for, but asking if there is a discount available for paying cash at the time of the service can often save you money. If it’s something your insurance will eventually pay for, the provider’s office may even be willing to help you file the claim and still give you a discount just because the cash flow happens more quickly when you pay the day of service.

Get Healthy

The absolute best way to reduce your healthcare costs is to get healthier. That means eating properly and getting some exercise. Your employer may offer nutrition counseling or support programs to help you get more fit. Some employers will help pay for a gym membership or have employer sponsored recreational activities meant to help increase your fitness level.

This is especially important if you have a family history or chronic illnesses like heart disease or diabetes. Making a pre-emptive strike to get healthy before you are diagnosed with a major illness can help reduce your insurance premiums and your overall healthcare expenses.

Additionally, annual check-ups can help detect illness before it becomes a major expense. Be sure to see your healthcare provider regularly.

Finally, make sure you get the health insurance coverage you need. Insurance brokers can help you devise a plan that fits the needs of you and your family and is tailored to both your financial and health needs.

What’s Wrong with it

We spend 2-3 times as much on our healthcare as most of the countries that now have “socialized medicine”. Yet, every country with socialized medicine has much better overall health statistics. As a matter fact, we are hovering around 32nd in the world. Even some “third world” countries are ahead of us.

How can this be? The richest country in the world, spending more than any other country, yet the health is one of the worst! What’s wrong? How have we come to this state of affairs?

There are a variety of reasons. Let’s look at some of these, and look at the alternate answer:

1. There’s a lot of talk about 40-50 million “uninsured” people in the US. “Uninsured” doesn’t mean that they aren’t taken care of. No Emergency Room can turn down anyone who comes for “treatment”. (Although many hospitals try to shift “poor” people to county or state facilities for profits sake.)

There’s also Medicaid for the very poor. But, that still leaves the great majority of “uninsured” swinging in the wind. They make just a little too much money to qualify for Medicaid, or the state they live in has run out of money and facilities. (Under the Bush Administration, the cuts in Medicaid have limited this coverage in virtually every state.) A severe medical problem bankrupts many of these families every year.

Who pays for Medicare and Emergency visits? The usual – US taxpayers! So, like it or not, we already have a “sort of” socialized medicine.

By the way, when did the phrase “socialized medicine” become a bad phrase? (Was it another “spin” fostered by “vested interests”?) How often have you heard “just ask a Canadian about their socialized medicine”?

Ask 100 persons from any country(s) that has socialized medicine two questions: “How do you like it?” and “Would you like to get rid of it”.

The answers to the first question are often a lot of individual complaining. Yet, the answer to the second question is an overwhelming “Never”. Could this dichotomy be the reason that so many people in the US “think” that socialized medicine is bad – those “bitching” (and very human) answers. Most people ask only the first question, NOT the second. I’ve asked both, and have yet to find a Canadian or a Brit who answers “yes” to the second question, but many, or most, will find something to complain about.

Isn’t it interesting that all the “civilized industrial nations” in Europe and elsewhere have some version of socialized medicine? Even in almost bankrupt Russia and Georgia, healthcare is free to all. And, even their health statistics are better than ours. (FYI, they also subsidize any “bright” student all the way to a “doctorate” if they are smart enough. College tuition in the US is prohibitively high for mid and low income families – are we wasting a major resource? You bet!)

2. Why is our health care costing so much? Simple – the insurance companies are running it. They make huge profits for this “service”. Cut out the middleman – the insurance companies, and cut the costs by an impartial estimate between a third and a half!

What other benefits would this have? Doctors would have more time to talk to patients, and spend less time, and office staff filling out forms to get paid. When was the last time your MD spent more than 2 minutes with you?

Let’s not overlook the fact that prevention is always better than catastrophe! All too often, when a poor person winds up in an Emergency Room, the cost of their problem is much more than it would be if that person had had insurance that allowed doctor visits to head off catastrophe with some prevention. This is a major factor favoring socialized medicine.

There’s still another factor in this equation. Malpractice insurance (more profits to insurance companies)! We do need to limit this. Some formulas have to be developed for how much any doctor can be sued for. And, medical boards need to oversee MD’s (and their mistakes) much closer. Doctors do make mistakes! And, the injured have a right to be compensated for such! What do the other countries do about this problem? Has anyone made any study of this?

3. There is another often overlooked problem. We, as a nation, have a terrible diet! We eat “fast foods” way too often. We eat too few “healthy foods”, and too many “high carbohydrate” foods. The statistics show clearly that a poor diet on the part of a mother results in a baby that is not nearly as healthy as it should be.

Take a look at some “poor” natives of African countries in photographs. Look especially at the wide mouths full of very strong, very even, teeth. Compare this to the US “standard” of two very prominent front teeth, a high narrow arch to the roof of the mouth, and crowding of the rest of the teeth. Dr Von Hilsheimer of Maitland Florida wrote a book years ago detailing the various “abnormalities” and “anomalies” of children of poor diet mothers. There is a definite correlation between these children and increasing allergy and sensitivity in our children

Recently I read a very interesting article about a school that changed the diets of the attending students, and by this simple change only, the entire attitude and moral outlook of the students was changed. It was very simple! They took out all the soda machines, and replaced them with water fountains. They eliminated hamburgers and fries, and similar poor diet foods, and emphasized fruits and veggies. Lo, and behold, the school which had previously been shunned by teachers because of unruly students was completely changed! Students were calm, quiet, and learned more and better than other schools in the area. Acts of violence or vandalism were eliminated. There are several other similar studies which school boards do not pay enough attention to.