Health care, Insurance, and Quality– Oh my!

Health care, Insurance, and Quality-- Oh my!

Lydia Flores, Assistant Editor

Welcome February. Your skeleton trees and blanket of gray clouds add amazing optimism to the chorus of coughs, sneezes, and doctor bills. I love how you’re bitter air mingles with bacteria to create a minefield of potential health problems and it will never ceases to amaze me, how empty my bank account is after visits to the doctor.

For example, last month, a student in Physics sneezed all over the lab table and the next week came packed with fevers, chills, and swollen tonsils. Consensus: Strep. Total Cost: $25 plus medication — total cost: $50 and up. The doctor advised minimizing contact with others so by the end of the week, two sick days were sacrificed.

Somewhere across the street, a neighbor slipped on a patch of black ice and fell off their porch. Consensus: fractured wrist bone. Total Cost: $15,000 Fortunately, that neighbor had a health insurance that paid a certain percentage  of the total cost.

In Salt Lake, Fourth Street Clinic provides immunizations, public health screenings, and several other services for members of the homeless community. According to their website, their staff of 50 accompany 150 volunteers to provide quality healthcare to 4,700 homeless individuals.

But what about those individuals caught in the in-between? They’re not homeless, yet each month is lived paycheck-to-paycheck. Food miraculously makes it onto the table each week, but luxuries like doctor visits cause added stress to their already tense lives.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that in 2014, American families averaged an income of $53,657 per year. That being said, 46.7 million Americans lived in poverty during the year 2014, a statistic that remained relatively unchanged from the data in 2013. To put that into perspective, poverty means two individuals live on an annual income that approximately 16 thousand dollars. If their rent nears 9 hundred a month, nearly 70% of their income is swallowed up in housing bills before things like food, transportation, or medical expenses can even be considered.

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act attempts to assuage financially difficulties placed on those living in poverty. Though met with considerable controversy, the basics of the act seeks to improve insurance coverage for low income Americans that struggle to obtain affordable health care.

In the upcoming Presidential election, healthcare remains a prominent issue of discussion. Some candidates, such as democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, seek to keep the Affordable Care Act, yet she also emphasize that changes will be made to mend any shortcomings. On the other hand, Republican nominee Ted Cruz, vehemently opposes President Obama’s Health Care act and seeks to repeal it. Instead, his presidential campaign focuses on “[making] healthcare more personal, portable, and affordable.”