Window onto a conference call with Steve King

When I suggested yesterday that Steve King is not an effective representative of his constituents in the fifth district, I failed to consider that from time to time he holds telephone town-hall meetings.

SW Iowa Guy suffered through one of those on Tuesday and provides a humorous account of the experience. Callers were screened so that King was able to field only friendly questions during an hour or so on the line.

One passage in Iowa Guy's post jumped out at me:

Health Care: King stated that he opposes universal access to health care. He advocates Health Savings Accounts and said that families can deposit over $5,000.00 per year to such an account and by the time they are ready to retire they will have over one million dollars. This is all well and good, but most working families can ill afford the necessities, let alone save for health care. This also fails to address the unemployed and under-employed and uninsured.

Do Republicans expect Americans to buy into this Health Savings Account concept? If my husband and I had donated the maximum amount to those accounts for several years, we would still be in the hole without our health insurance (and we are reasonably healthy people).

A typical, complication-free pregnancy with no medical interventions in the hospital cost us around $3,500 each time for prenatal care and delivery, plus about $5,000 each time for the normal hospital stay of less than 48 hours. If I had given birth to either of my children by cesarean section, the hospital bills would have been in the $10,000 to $20,000 range, even without any complications such as baby spending time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

I had a flukey infection this winter that sent me to the hospital for a week and ended up costing somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 (considering not just the hospital stay, but also the various tests and procedures). That would wipe out years of deposits in a Health Savings Account if we had to rely on one of those instead of health insurance.

If anyone in our family ever got a really expensive illness to treat, such as cancer, you can forget about any private savings account covering the cost.

It's not realistic to think that families will be able to build up Health Savings Accounts worth a million dollars by the time they retire. Only a small fraction of Americans could afford to do that, and even then they'd have to be lucky and stay healthy in the meantime.

As Iowa Guy notes, a single-payer system modeled on Medicare makes a lot more sense.

  • Single payer is the only way to go

    When my neice and her husband and baby were living with us she went into labor and delivered her second child at 26 weeks.  The little fella spent the first 13 weeks of his life at NICU at Iowa Methodist.  Now he is a heathen in training.  But I would hate to see the hospital bill for those 13 weeks.  It would wipe out health care savings accounts.  The only way to go is single payer.

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