150 protest against private health insurers

–via The Louisville Courier-Journal

Demonstrators urge universal care in U.S.

By Linsen Li
The Courier-Journal

Brent Humes has not had health insurance for 15 years.

“At my past jobs, signing up for health insurance means cutting my paycheck in half,” said Humes, who is currently unemployed.

He was among about 150 people who gathered yesterday across from Humana’s downtown Louisville headquarters to protest private insurance companies.

The demonstration, organized by Kentuckians for Single Payer Healthcare and Physicians for a National Health Program, is part of a national effort to establish a universal health-care plan.

“Our purpose is to educate the public and politicians about how the single-payer plan is the best option,” said Dr. Ewell Scott, an internist in Morehead, Ky.

“A single, government-sponsored health-insurance company is more efficient and provides coverage for everyone,” Scott said. “It is by far and away the best solution to the country’s health-care problem.”

President Barack Obama has proposed widespread health-care reforms, but hasn’t advocated doing away with private insurance. He has called for a public health plan that could compete with private insurers. He also has proposed subsidies to help lower-income people buy coverage.

The differences between health-insurance companies and the protesters are smaller than they appear, said Jim Turner, a Humana spokesman.

“Our ultimate objective is to make health care affordable for everyone; in that sense Humana is in agreement with the protesters,” he said.

He added, however, that private health-insurance companies like Humana are here to stay.

“There will always be a need for public-private cooperation in the health-care system,” Turner said. “The government looks to the private sector for contributions such as innovation.”

While Humes said he has not been greatly affected so far by not having health insurance, he hopes to be insured once health care is more affordable.

“I suspect one day I will need it,” he said.

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