For Immediate Release
New Data Reveal Human Impact of Maryland’s Healthcare Crisis
Baltimore, MD - A new report reveals that the cost of healthcare has forced 45% of people surveyed in Maryland to skip doctor’s appointments, medication, or other forms of healthcare, pushing people into poor health, medical debt, and other struggles.
“The healthcare crisis is often talked about as a political drama playing out in Annapolis and Washington, DC,” says Dr. Naumburg, a resident of Columbia who helped conduct the survey. “It’s absolutely a crisis that’s caused by policy, but what’s often missed is the devastating human impact the crisis is having.”
Combining survey data from almost 900 respondents with vignettes from several Maryland residents, the report paints a portrait of the human side of the healthcare crisis. One in three people surveyed said that they have a family member whose health has deteriorated because they could not afford to seek care. Forty-five percent of people said they have had trouble paying insurance premiums, copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, and other insurance costs. Thirty-seven percent of people said that they or a family member stayed in a job just to keep insurance coverage.
Emmanuel McCray, an army veteran who is featured in the report, returned from Iraq in 2007 and in 2011 was diagnosed with cancer. He went into remission, but in 2013, his cancer returned. In order to stay on his employer’s insurance plan, he had to work full time at Wal-mart as he went through treatment. Eventually the toil became too much. McCray lost his job, and with it his insurance. “Cancer is the toughest battle I’ve ever been through in my life,” says McCray. “I served in the military, through combat. I had control over that situation. This (healthcare situation) I don’t have control over. I’ve got to force myself to work.”
Healthcare Is a Human Right—Maryland advocates point out that while the Affordable Care Act improved some people’s healthcare access through Medicaid expansion and other reforms, it maintains the private insurance system that they say is at the root of the crisis.
“We’re the wealthiest country in the world, and yet we systematically deny people access to healthcare,” says Dr. Naumburg. “An insurance market is a great way for insurance company to make money, but from a human rights perspective, it just doesn’t work. Markets simply aren’t intended to guarantee access to healthcare. The only way we’re ever going to make sure every person in Maryland can get the healthcare they need is if we provide universal healthcare as a public good.”
According to the report, Maryland residents are widely disaffected by the current healthcare system. Ninety-five percent of people surveyed say that they believe healthcare is a human right, and 86% say that the government is obligated to protect this right, but only 18% think that the right to healthcare is currently protected in Maryland. Sixty-five percent of people surveyed say that they believe they currently have no say in the healthcare system, and 75% support a shift to a publicly funded universal healthcare system.
The report, released by Healthcare is a Human Right – Maryland in partnership with the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, is based on a survey of people across 10 counties. Healthcare Is a Human Right – Maryland points to the report findings as evidence that a broad group of people across the state are disaffected with the insurance system and the Affordable Care Act and ready to mobilize for universal healthcare.
“Because of this healthcare crisis, residents, unions, and healthcare professionals across the state are coming together to call for a universal, single-payer healthcare system that ensures people’s human rights,” reflects Sergio España of Baltimore, an organizer for the campaign. “People know that this is going to be a big political fight, but the only way they're going to see this come to be is if we all stand up and take action together to demand the system we need.”
Healthcare Is a Human Right - Maryland was founded in 2012 by United Workers, Healthcare-NOW! Maryland, and Physicians for a National Health Program–Maryland. Local chapters are active in seven counties including Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, and Montgomery.