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Putting a face to the health care crisis for kids (and families) as health insurance options expire and vanish

As many of you have probably figured out, Kyla is a good friend of mine. I've sketched a portrait with words about how I admire her and passed along awards. We've brought our kids together to play, with entertaining results of course. Patience has declared BubTar, "Good to play with and fun, even though he's a boy." Persistence thinks KayTar is neat, and loves looking at the photos that Kyla puts up each day. Kyla and I broke our stress together this past Saturday by having a lovely girl's day out, including being ladies who lunch and shop. If I spent some money on a lovely Jane Austen leather bound collection, it's her fault. ;) I'm going to beg advice from Mr. Tar about whether I ought to add another hard-drive or just invest in a new computer.

In short, the Tars are real people to us, people we like and care about. We want the best for them. That can mean many things, but for KayTar, it means continuing health care to help her with her challenges.

There is nothing more important to loving parents than being able to provide not just adequately but well for their children. Not being able to is hugely stressful, and we will make amazing compromises to find the means to take care of our children.

When that care is as basic and essential as necessary health care for a child, it seems inexcusable to me that it may not be available.

Say what you will about adults being entitled to health care. I will gladly debate with you on that point. But when it comes to children...there is no debate. Take care of the children.

Our current president recently vetoed a plan that would have done that. Who does something like that?

Not too long ago I had a friend living in bad conditions, with possible homelessness looming. I gladly wrote a letter to help her appeal for aid for health care for her children. I did my best to find and send work opportunities her way. Choices were limited, though, because childcare costs more than she could earn. And I wrung my hands about what else to do. My mind turned through many possibilities, running through ideas a little frantically. I lost sleep over it some days, worrying. I finally confessed to my best friend, who said she was doing the same. We began running ideas out loud to one another, circling through the same thoughts, knowing there had to be something to do...but unable to figure it out. I sent letters and emails to aid agencies, then left voicemail after voicemail. I never even got a call back, or response to my email.

Nobody seems interested in preventing a tragedy. All we see to be able to do is crisis management after the fact.

How horrible. I cannot tell you how this infuriates and devastates me.

Ultimately, with friendly support and her own gumption, my friend set herself up well and is fine.

How many people like her are there, though, who don't have the community she did?

Kyla, like my friend, has a community. She has a corporeal life one and a cyber one. KayTar is already lucky in her family, and has been lucky in the care she gets.

That care, though, is at risk, and that's just plain wrong.

I believe in Kyla, and know she will find a solution. I believe she has, but oh how I shudder that she has had to struggle and compromise so to do that. Kyla's story.

Think about KayTar and all the other children---nearly 9 million of them without health insurance. 9 million. That's one in seven. Many of them are in the middle class.

If "kids who need healthcare" is simply a faceless, meaningless statistic to you...let KayTar be that face, be the humanity behind the numbers. Look at that face at the top of this post. How precious is that face? That's the face our government just said no, you can't have health care that is vital to your quality of life.

Then look at these issues and facts:

* SCHIP expired on September 30th, 2007 because of Bush killing it. As a result, millions of children (6 million as it happens) lost health coverage:

"Many of these children are uninsured because their families' incomes are too high for Medicaid but too low to make private health insurance affordable. SCHIP coverage only costs these families 5% of their gross income and many children can get SCHIP coverage for free. Although this program has been a step in the right direction, as many as 2 million children who qualify for SCHIP coverage still lack health insurance, in part due to insufficient funding." Source: Insuring our children

* "According to the Center for Studying Health System Change, health care spending rose 10 percent in 2002 and that followed a slightly more than 10 percent increase in 2001—the largest jump in more than a decade. In the first six months of 2003, health spending rose another 8.5 percent. Premiums for employer-sponsored coverage increased nearly 13 percent in 2002. As employers refuse to pay their fair share, this trend may result in millions of workers losing their employer-based coverage." Source: "What's Wrong with America's Health Care?"

* "Every year, 759,000 children with asthma may be at risk of a major asthma attack while they have no health insurance. About 30 percent of those families earn more than 200 percent of the federal poverty level, putting them above the threshold for the state children's health insurance program in most states." Source: "Many Children With Asthma Not Receiving Medication Due To Lack Of Insurance"

Go Google "children without health insurance" and see what pops. You'll be stunned, and concerned, to say the least.

Then, let's come back together and wring our hands...then think of something To Do. Because I know there is something and together we can find it, then make sure that KayTar and all the kids in a similar boat get the care they need.

Let's be Kyla's community.

And the community we can be proud of for all the other children.

Come back...and let's talk about how...

Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
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dharmamama said…
Julie - It breaks my heart and leaves me feeling very powerless - which I know isn't helpful. I communicate regularly with helping agencies here (and I use that term loosely) for folks that contact me through my job. There is NO funding for preventive help. People have to wait to be homeless before there is help available, rather than having an adequately funded crisis prevention agency. And - if too many people are homeless, help isn't there, even with the Room in The Inn program, the need is greater than the beds available.

Health care is SUCH a big issue. How to break it down? What *can* I do? Just for today, what can I do?
Melissa said…
It is overwhelming. But we can continue to put pressure on the Powers That Be and try to change the system.
Kyla said…
Julie, thanks again.

(and on a mostly unrelated note, we should totally do the lunch/shopping thing again sometime. It was nice using my brain multiple times in a single day, LOL)
PunditMom said…
You know how I feel on this one -- the fact that we can't get this reauthorized is a disgrace, for Dems & GOP alike.
I think you have a huge opportunity to DO something now, this being the run-up to an election year. Be vocal, be LOUD. State your case. Not just federally, but locally, too.

Kyla is a bloggy buddy of mine, and it KILLS to read how much they have to struggle for every bit of help.

This insurance/health care nonsense has to stop. Health care should not be for profit. It should be a RIGHT, not a privilege reserved for those well off.

It SUCKS. And frankly, I think it's shameful.

thordora said…
Kyla could move to Canada. :)

I don't know how you all do it down there. It freaks me out to be honest. I might wait for awhile, but I get treatment.
Anonymous said…
That's why I support Clinton. I think she can do it. (Of course, I was robbed of a vote, but that's a different story.)
Lawyer Mama said…
You know how I feel about this. This is my issue. It's a crime that Kyla's family should be put in this position.

I think writing about it and not sitting back silently during the election and (more importantly) AFTER the election has got to help. I'm certainly not going to shut up about it and I know you won't either.
Aliki2006 said…
Thank you, thank you--for Kyla, and for the rest of us--the ones really getting reamed by this horrible, travesty of a health care system.
SciFi Dad said…
I have to wonder, with a neighbour whose economy is far less stable and far less powerful and whose population is spread far less densely (requiring a lower doctor to patient ratio due to geography), why does the US still have this issue?

If Canada can do it, the US should be able to do it better.

So sad.

Maybe y'all should move up here. It doesn't snow all the time, you know!
Liv said…
Wow. You've covered it all. And yes, it is a crisis.
le35 said…
I feel like there does need to be a way to get health care, but I'm not sure that taxes are the answer. Maybe insurance companies could have a small business coverage where a whole bunch of small businesses or individual families can buy in at the current group insurance rates instead of buying private family or individual plans. Our health insurance coverage is not good at all, and it's at an outrageous price, and it would be much more affordable for people if they could get it at the price that companies can give it to their employees. Then, in some ways, the insurance companies would make more money, and be able to hire more people, but the average person would also be able to get preventative care.
le35 said…
Also, with a small coverage plan, the insurance companies would be able to spread the risk over the a large group of people, and it would make sense for them.
That is terrible! I hope she continues to get the help she needs.
So frightening. And so wrong. It's something that has to be addressed immediately. Which is why, no matter who is elected, we should continue to clamor for change.
Angela said…
You know, one might ignorantly assume (as I once did, very long ago) that this is an issue that doesn't touch ALL Americans. But it does...and I guess as someone who has never had to struggle with this, I took my own benefits for granted when I first started working and living on my own. But now that nearly all of John's brothers are without insurance and two of my closest friends as well? The scary starts to really resonate. I think your perspective on how close this hits to all of our homes is a good one.
Magpie said…
Kyla's post is heartbreaking and shocking. It's just wrong.
jeanie said…
I just commented on the Momocrats site - oops - I thought I did, but its not there - anyhow..

Every time I see stories on how the US system is falling down, I shudder.

One part of me because I want to know how can any society do that to their own people, no matter what age or social status.

The other part of me because, here in Australia, we have had some major changes in our health system to emulate yours over the last few years, and I hate to see the future that clearly.

We do have a free (well, taxes pay for it) universal health care system that allows society to scoop up those who fall through the cracks. Of course it is immensely overused, and there have been some moves to get higher income earners to move towards private insurance.

I have been a private health insurance subscriber all of my life - and I am paying more and more to receive less and less, but at least I have a backup of the state system, and I believe that the state system gives a great counter to the private systems to enforce them to focus on health as their primary objective OVER profit margins.

I would love to invite your friend's family to live here - unfortunately, her daughter's health would also preclude her from that, as medical conditions are a basis that is used to veto migrant (including refugee) applications - so it really sucks.

Hugs to her - I wish there was a solution, but until someone gives the money men a wake up pill on what their priorities should be (and works out how to rope in the insurance brumbies) it will require politicians to grow some guts.

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