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Nov. 12 2009 - 10:12 am | 61 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

Health care: the beginning and end of the cycle of poverty

Two little girls in a park near Union Station,...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

African Americans make up a third of Chicago’s population. But they’re nearly half the city’s disabled population.

What accounts for that disparity?

It’s not race. It’s poverty.

According to statistics from a recent edition of the Chicago Reporter, when you control for poverty, the racial imbalance among the disabled disappears.

Why does that imbalance exist? Health care.

Low-income pregnant women have less access to prenatal care and, quite often, poorer quality of care. Poor nutrition and continuing health care inequalities during childhood contribute to future disabilities.

Being poor and having little or no access to health care starts off a disability. And then that disability leads to a life of poverty. Less able to get through school, living in poor communities where special education options are often limited. Disabilities keep many from working full-time or working at all. Government benefits keep some disabled people off the street, but just barely.

Poor people are born sick. As a result, they become poorer. And sicker. The cycle continues.

We can’t put health care in a box. It might be one bill, one part of the party platform, but it’s intimately connected with how people live and what chance they have at escaping the cycle they were born into.


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  1. collapse expand

    Good post. Can’t disagree with any of this. What’s your stand on Obama Care (or Pelosi Care)?

  2. collapse expand

    On the current bill passed in the house? Or the idea of health care reform in general?

    I think the current bill isn’t that great. I’m upset about insurance mandates, mostly for personal reasons. But, I think it’s what we can pass, and in Congress, that is no small feat. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    I’m divided over the idea of a public option. From what I’ve seen, medicaid works well. It provides good insurance to people who need it. I think a lot would improve in this country if people could simply go to the doctor when they’re sick. But would an expansion of medicaid be bad? It’d certainly be expensive at first. And if it turns out like any of the other bizarre government sponsored programs, like TANF (more commonly known as welfare), I can’t say I would be too excited about it.

    That’s not very concise or definitive. I’m not sure of what to think, really.

  3. collapse expand

    The problem with health care is health insurance. I’m in favor of reform, just not in the direction Pelosi and Obama are taking it. First of all, health insurance should not be attached to employment. People should be able to shop for the company that is best for themselves. People say that insurance through your employer makes it cheaper, but they ignore two things. One, Wages would be higher, and two, insurance would be cheaper if they had to shop around on their own.

    Another thing that stifles competition and keeps cost up is the fact you aren’t allowed to buy insurance over state lines. This one seems like common sense, but our government still doesn’t understand it apparently.

    My last argument would be for higher deductibles. When insurance pays for every little thing, people don’t care about how much it costs and don’t shop around for the best price. Just imagine how much an oil change would cost if it were covered by insurance. Of course people don’t care about this because they don’t see the bill for it. What they don’t realize is how much more expensive their insurance is because of it. When you look at two health care services that aren’t covered by insurance, LASIK and plastic surgery, you notice two things about them. The prices have steadily fallen while the quality has steadily risen. Why is this? Because of competition. People shop around for the best deal. Insurance stifles competition, and competition is good for everyone.

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    About Me

    I'm a journalist living in Chicago writing about poverty and public housing. I don't come from the streets - I grew up on a farm. But I'm passionate about urban issues and getting to know people who are completely different from me. I'm quirky, funny and friendly.

    I have this idea about journalism - that it should be approachable and less "newsy." I want my stories to make you laugh, cry and draw you in to neighborhoods and situations you don't deal with every day. I hate the broadcaster voice. I hate TV news. I hate the inverted pyramid. I love surprise. I love humor. I love people and telling their stories.

    In addition to being a journalist, I also teach dance for the Chicago Public Schools. I don't just do it for the money. I love children and love arts education. I'm also on the board of a new nonprofit dedicated to helping the underserved find jobs called Employing Hope. I write fiction, keep house, and am generally a renaissance woman.

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