[UPDATE: This event has now concluded.]
This morning HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius takes to the virtual pages of Yahoo! News to make the case once more on the urgency of reform for countless Americans for whom a health crisis puts their entire life in shambles. She harkens back to Natoma’s story, which the President told in Ohio this week, and explains the broader significance:
What's remarkable about Natoma’s story is how unremarkable it is. She was unlucky enough to get sick. But that was just chance. It could have happened to any of the tens of millions of Americans who don't have health insurance. Or to any of the tens of millions more who are underinsured. Some of them have caps on their benefits, which means their coverage can disappear in the middle of a hospital stay or a round of chemotherapy.
Those of us who work for large employers that can negotiate better insurance rates have slightly more security. But the share of Americans under 65 who get health insurance through their job has been going down every year since 2000. And as soon as any of us change jobs or retire or decide to start our own business, we're facing the same risks as Natoma. Even if we keep our jobs, our health care premiums are rising three times faster than wages, eating up a bigger chunk of our paychecks every year.
Our health insurance system is failing at the very job it is supposed to do. It's supposed to protect people against exorbitant health costs, yet many Americans who have insurance still spend tens of thousands of dollars a year on health care. It's supposed to soften the financial blow that comes with getting sick, yet the Americans who are most likely to have serious health problems often can’t get insurance. It's supposed to give families peace of mind, but it’s hard to think of any other issue that causes as many worries.
President Obama's health insurance reform plan will make our insurance system work for families, small business owners, and individuals like Natoma by making three significant changes.
Secretary Sebelius will be taking your questions live at 5:15 as we hit the home stretch on health reform.