LatinaLista — In borrowing a line used by Dem. Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank at a recent town hall meeting on health-care reform, “What planet do those Latinos live on who believe there is no health-care crisis?”
Rep. Barney Frank confronts the challengers of health-care reform at a town hall meeting.
(Source: AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Amid all the screaming and shouting from both sides over this issue, the voice of Latinos has been strangely silent. Of course, the argument can always be made that the kind of in-your-face rants and upfront challenges of elected officials are just not the Latino style of battling issues, but by not doing anything there is a silent message being sent that Latinos condone the current healthcare system.
Again, I ask: What planet do you/they live on?
It’s bad enough that 34 percent of our compadres and comadres don’t have health insurance but for those Latinos who do have health insurance, there is a false sense of security that life is covered.
In fact, that is far from the case.
Just being Latina/o can predetermine a number of outcomes in our lives:
Die from diabetes
Our children battle obesity
Be infected with tuberculosis
Have a higher rate of contracting cervical cancer
Likelier to die from breast cancer
Likelier to develop and die from heart disease
Likelier to have high cholesterol
Develop hypertension, liver disorders or lupus
And these diseases don’t even include what happens to those Latinos who live high-risk lifestyles.
At one time, the country’s pharmaceutical research companies were developing 581 medicines to treat diseases that disproportionately affect Hispanic Americans, according to a 2006 report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
Right now, under the current health-care system, develop any one of the diseases most likely to afflict Latinos and either your premiums skyrocket or, worse, your insurance company is no longer interested in providing coverage.
They might actually have to pay for treatment, medicine or hospitalization. That goes against the grain of any company guarding its profit margin.
Insurance companies restrict or deny coverage by rescinding health insurance policies on the grounds that customers had undisclosed pre-existing conditions. On June 16, a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee held a hearing exploring this practice, with the goal of examining “the practice of ‘post-claims underwriting,’ which occurs when insurance companies cancel individual health insurance policies after providers submit claims for medical services rendered.” The committee also released a memorandum finding that three major American insurance companies rescinded 19,776 policies for over $300 million in savings over five years and that even that number “significantly undercounts the total number of rescissions” by the companies.
Yet, with health-care reform, the notion that insurance companies can’t drop a person or force them to pay beyond their means just because they develop a costly condition should be something that all Latinos should endorse.
Having a health-care policy that ensures that all people, regardless of income or current health status, are entitled to have their health valued equally is a policy that should be cheered.
The current arguments against health-care reform are disingenuous because they attempt to slant the debate in a light that no one in their right mind would want. But for a demographic who face a certainty of developing illnesses that have a high-cost medicinal maintenance in the golden years, when income is extremely limited, Latinos owe it to themselves to refuse to be the easy pawns of a majority who don’t worry about health-care costs and evaluate the current proposal to decide which sounds better — a health-care system that ensures coverage no-matter-what or the continuation of a system that favors big business and those with money.