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National Institute for Health Insurance Reform

One little guy - one big goal - fix a broken system. mailto:rereason@hotmail.com

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Katrina Saves Lives

The sudden gift of adequate healthcare for tens of thousands, perhaps over a hundred thousand of poor people devastated by hurricane Katrina will doubtless save lives.

The federal government, in a rare show of generosity towards those least able to fend for themselves, will cover the cost of examination, diagnosis and treatment for uninsured people from the flood zones.

People like Rocio Roberts.

Roberts' right eye has had a yellow tinge for at least two years, but she never sought treatment because she could not pay for it. "I don't have insurance," said Roberts.

The yellow tinge could be a sign of liver disease. Last week, she took advantage of a free clinic set up in Atlanta for hurricane evacuees, and got the long postponed exam.

Who knows how many lives will be saved because preventative care is given to those without health insurance? My own guess is possibly hundreds out of the over one-hundred thousand poor who now find themselves blessed with one of the main perks of the middle class, adequate healthcare.

How many hundreds will not become disabled and go on Social Security or SSI?

Of course, no one with the capacity to study the issue knows how many people go on the dole simply because they could not get timely treatment. But it appears likely the federal government could even save a some money by treating these people. The cost of a little preventative care, even for ten thousand individuals, could not exceed the cost of a lifetime of Social Security or SSI disability benefits for a few hundred. (An average Social Security disability claim cost $250,000.00).

We are glad to see this benefit extended to the unfortunate victims of Katrina. Now, if we could just get some help for the other 44,900,000 people without healthcare in this country, imagine the lives that would be saved.

(Roberts' story was reported yesterday in various newspapers, including the Kansas City Star).