Sunday, July 5, 2009


July 5, 2009

Thank you for your continued involvement in my research project about health insurance and health care. I used some of my research to write a letter to the editor of The Eagle, my newspaper. It appeared yesterday. Here's what I wrote:

I’m not sure what Bill Hunter meant when he wrote (June 30) that President Barack Obama is about to “parade some sad anecdotes before us” to convince us of the need for health care reform. In Brazos County, where I live, 18.4% of the population or 28,747 people had no health insurance in 2005. In Leon County, where Mr. Hunter lives, another 2823 (17.3%) were uninsured. Almost 7,000 of those without any form of health insurance in these two counties were children.

While these numbers may seem high, our counties are better off than many parts of our state. In 2006, Texas had the highest uninsured rate in the nation, with one in four Texans living without insurance. That translated into 5.7 million Texans with no coverage. Having so many uninsured Texans creates problems for the rest of us.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission a high rate of uninsured citizens contributes to:

Poorer health outcomes, because the uninsured have more difficulty securing access to primary and preventive care;

• Increased costs of private insurance, because those with insurance pay higher premiums to subsidize the uninsured;

Over reliance on safety net providers, including hospitals and emergency rooms, for care that is more expensive than care received in another setting, such as a doctor’s office;

An increased likelihood of hospitalization for the uninsured for conditions that are avoidable; and

Increased mortality rates.

What anecdotes could President Obama relate that would be sadder than these grim statistics? Insuring Aunt Mable might make her family feel better, but common sense economics tells the rest of us that we’d all be better off reforming the health care system.

Vickie Buenger

Bryan, Texas


  1. i just twittered it. 123 people will get a link to this post. look forward to reading a longer article with these stats as well as findings from your survey (though, that's a lot of qual data to plow through).

  2. So, are you OK with the government deciding WHO should get WHAT health care? What if it was decided last year that your daughter had recieved enough treatment and her care cost enough money and she was robbed of that last, precious year of life? A year where she spent being Erin, loving and enjoying life, despite all the obstacles thrown at her. This is what scares me and keeps me up at night. I don't thnk the government should decide who gets what care or how much of it.

  3. I think if you read my letter carefully you would not conclude that I advocate government deciding "who gets what care or how much of it."

    Because of the historical way insurance coverage developed in the United States--partially in response to wage freezes during World War II, partly as an inducement to attract white collar workers in large corporations, partly as enacted in the 1960s to cover the eldest and poorest Americans--whole pools of workers, including the self-employed, those who work for small businesses, many who work for hourly wages and/or part time, and many in agriculture, do not have access to affordable health insurance within a system that has grown exceptionally expensive.

    I do strongly believe in the superior science behind improvements in health care in our country and in the compassion and knowledge of our doctors. I also strongly believe that access to that science and medicine should not be an accident of history or only for the well-to-do. We have folks smarter than me working on solutions to build an insurance system that would make coverage available across the board, so that even children who don't have affluent parents like Erin did can get access to care like she received.

    I have talked to many people, some who have insurance and some who don't. No one I have spoken with, whether they have great insurance that they love, expensive and barely adequate insurance, or no insurance at all, have complained to me that they wish they had less coverage, or that they are looking forward to the day when they can get rid of their insurance.

    I wish you had signed your name .
    to your comment so that we could continue our discussion privately, through email or some other means. If you want to continue this conversation, please contact me at

    Vickie Buenger

    P.S. Walter adds that my response to you is much tamer than his would be.

  4. Just getting caught up with my blog reading and wanted to let you know that when I clicked to enlarge the picture of the lanyards I couldn't believe just how beautiful they truly are! And your necklace from Erin is precious... in so many ways.
    Continuing to lift you and your family in prayer as you continue this difficult journey.

  5. You know, I have rethought posting this since I hit publish. My feelings on Obama;s healthcare plan have not changed, but I was very wrong to use your daughter as an example and I apologize for it. I am in a situation where my mother is recieving expensive treatments paid for by her/her insurance. Obama's flip line "well maybe Grandma won't get that operation she needs, but she will get painkillers" really socked me. It is not the place of the government to decide who gets treatment and that is my great fear in universal healthcare. Maybe my mother gaining an extra year of life isn't worth it to some people, but it is certainly worth it to her and those who love her. The money for the overhaul has to come from somewhere and I do not like the direction I fear Obama is taken us.

    Your little girl's courageous battle and her life touched my heart and I deeply regret and disrespect that came across in my post. Sometimes one has to think before replying and I didn't. We have very different opinions on the state of healthcare and which direction to head. At some point we all need to figure out a way to talk together and hear each other out. But the time and place needs to be right, and I chose the wrong time and place. Again, I am sorry.


  6. Excellent letter that really highlights the issue. I'm thinking too of people who are losing their jobs--and thus their health care--in this economy. The vulnerability to loss of insurance is as real a problem as the people who are already not covered. Thanks for your advocacy on this.