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August 05, 2009

Woman with insurance charged $22,000 for giving birth; or, this is why we need insurance reform

Health Care: Giving Birth And Covered By Health Insurance? $22,000, Please
Birthing our daughter was so expensive precisely because we were insured, on the individual market. Our insurer, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, sold us exactly the type of flawed policy-riddled with holes and exceptions-that the health care reform bills in Congress should try to do away with. The "maternity" coverage we purchased didn't cover my labor, delivery, or hospital stay. It was a sham. And so we spent the first months of her life getting the kind of hospital bills and increasingly aggressive calls from hospital administrators that I once believed were only possible without insurance. About 63 percent of Americans receive medical care through their employer and nearly 20 percent are uninsured. 16 percent receive some insurance through a federal program like Medicaid or Medicare. The rest of us-between 5 and 7 percent-pay for insurance out of pocket. That's a small share of the total at any one time, yes. But it amounts to at least ten million people (the American Medical Association says it's more like 27 million; that number would be even higher if premiums weren't out of reach for many.) Over the course of our lives, roughly one in four Americans will buy their own health insurance. We're the freelancers, the newly unemployed, the entrepreneurs, the people who are transitioning out of college or grad school or between jobs, or the ones who work for employers with fewer than 20 employees. Our numbers are growing. An estimated 14,000 Americans lose their job-based health insurance every day. The individual insurance market is like that old joke about the food being terrible and the portions too small; it's expensive, shoddy, and deeply unsatisfying. Those of us who buy into it are not protected by the federal and state laws that govern employer-based health care. In fact, there's no one looking out for us at all.

Blackwater CEO accused of murder, gun smuggling

Blackwater Chief Accused of Murder, Gun-Running - ABC News
The head of Blackwater and his employees may have killed or ordered the killing of people suspected of cooperating with federal investigators probing their activities, according to an anonymous affidavit filed in federal court Monday. . . . But allegations of murder just scratch the surface: the two men – one alleges he is an ex-Marine, the other says he shared his allegations with a federal grand jury – claim far more. John Doe 2 claims routine murderous violence against Iraqis, a wife-swapping sex ring, use of child prostitutes, gun-running and more by Blackwater employees. John Doe 2 describes Prince as viewing himself as "a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the globe," who intentionally sent like-minded mercenaries to Iraq "to take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis." In a statement Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the firm – since renamed "Xe" - said the allegations were "unsubstantiated and offensive." Stacy DeLuke accused the plaintiffs' lawyers of having "chosen inappropriately to argue their case in the media." A lawyer for Prince and Blackwater, Peter Hugh White, declined to comment on the affidavits.

Farming in Downtown Detroit

detroitblog -- Animal farm This is a nicely done portrait of a family who farm just north of Corktown in downtown Detroit. Mary King was the first black person to move into the neighborhood after coming from Alabama in 1948, followed soon by her sister. The locals weren’t happy about it. “Oh we had some trouble ‘round here,” she says. “When I moved here, they busted out every window in the building. If I could tell you all that happened it would take me two days.” She says neighbors would throw dead rats on the porch. Someone once sent a hearse to the house. She received hate mail. Even a little old lady would taunt her. “She was so old she couldn’t hardly stand up; she’d lean into that tree and she’d say ‘Hey nigger, you old nigger!’ She just had veins in her neck and she was calling me nigger. So I didn’t do nothin’ but smile at her because she was too old for me to hit her. But every time I pass that tree I think about her.” Ku Klux Klan members once detoured from a march to stroll past her new house. She and her sister’s husband sat on the roof with a shotgun. “They spied us up there,” she says. “They called on us to come back down and talk it out. But they went on their way. They didn’t bother us that night.” She stayed through it all. “I would die before I’d leave,” she says, still angry about it. “I felt I had just as much right as anybody else to live where I want to live. And that’s why I wasn’t going to move.”