Ready for a shock? Because if you aren’t, maybe you should stop reading now ...
Wait, no, please don’t stop reading. That would defeat my whole purpose .
Sorry. I’ll begin again.
Ready for a shock? What percentage of Americans have health insurance? Sixty percent? Seventy? I didn’t have a number in mind before finding the true figure, but probably would have guessed around 80 percent.
The answer: 91.4 percent of Americans in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Or 294 million. Quite a lot.
Not perfect. Particularly if you are among the uninsured 8.6 percent. But not as bad as I thought. And most surprising, given all the Republican blathering about “socialized medicine” is those insured break down into two-thirds private and one-third public — Medicaid, Medicare. More than a third of insured Americans — 37.7 percent — are protected by the government. So if you’re wondering how socialized health insurance might work, ask grandma.
When I had my spine surgery last month, I considered myself lucky — “blessed” was the word that got into print. Blessed that I had good insurance, and wasn’t being bankrupted — I hoped — by a single operation. Medical problems are cited as the cause of two-thirds of the bankruptcies in the United States (although the actual cost for health care is only part of that; inability to work is the other).
Granted, mine was good insurance, provided by a good workplace. When I checked before the operation to see how many sick days I had accrued, the answer was: “26 weeks.” I used two.
Where am I going with this? I got a letter from a reader — if a note printed in all caps on a 3-by-5 index card shoved into an envelope can be called a “letter” The punctuation is mine:
“HEY NEIL ... PLEASE FINISH YOUR NORTHWESTERN STORY. LOVE TO SEE ALL OF THE BILLS, DOCTOR INCLUDED. EVERY ITEM FOR THREE DAYS FIND THAT WOULD MAKE A GREAT STORY. TOTAL BILL. LIKE TO SEE IF YOUR NEW SPINE IS WORKING.”
This falls in to the “double-dog dare” school of reader feedback. The question he poses is legitimate, but the taunting tone so schoolyard — what are you, 14? — reflecting a paranoiac misunderstanding of how newspapers work, at least this one.
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