By: Karen C. Wallace, Esq – Your Black World
After several years, I again watched the movie John Q starring Denzel Washington, Kimberly Elise, James Woods and others, which poignantly tackled the issue of inadequate health care insurance in this country. As you may recall, Denzel’s character was that of a loving father who was pushed to the edge of desperation as he searched for the means to pay for a life saving heart operation for his beautiful young son. Today, the movie profoundly impacted me the same as it did when I watched it several years back. In fact, the movie actually resonated more with me today as I reflect upon the latest category of the uninsured, i.e. the growing number of uninsured that is directly related to the high numbers of unemployed individuals who along with their jobs, have lost their employer based health insurance benefits.
Although it’s greatly watered down from its original version, I applaud the Obama administration and Congress for going to battle with the usual cast of characters and getting at least a version of health care reformed passed. The problem is that the main provisions do not come into effect until 2014 and today the consequences for the growing number of uninsured are critical. People die unnecessarily, far too many infants die at birth or shortly thereafter, quality of life is greatly diminished as people suffer needlessly from medically manageable chronic health conditions—all because of a lack of adequate medical insurance and care. African Americans and the poor have always been disproportionately impacted by inadequate health insurance coverage and with the African American rate of unemployment being nearly double the rate of the general population, it is highly likely they are doubly impacted by the lack of health insurance coverage among the unemployed.
In the interim, there are some possible solutions that can help the unemployed. First, Congress can extend unemployment benefits to the jobless to assist them with healthcare costs. Second, Congress can re-establish subsidies provided by the 2009 stimulus package that allowed laid-off workers to stay on their former employers’ policies while looking for work. (Please contact your Senators and Representatives and make theses requests.) Finally, regarding the uninsured in general, there are Federally Qualified Health Centers located throughout the nation where no one is turned away regardless of their ability to pay. You can locate these clinics on the internet.
Karen C. Wallace, Esq. is an attorney, executive and adjunct professor from Chicago, Illinois.
© 2011 by Karen C. Wallace