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Thursday, January 18, 2018
HomeHealthNurses Week: When the Nurse is Underinsured

Nurses Week: When the Nurse is Underinsured

Sharlinee Sritharan, RN, BSN

Sharlinee Sritharan, RN, BSN

This blog post was written by Sharlinee Sritharan, BSN, RN, a graduate nursing student at Hunter -Bellevue College of Nursing, City University of New York.

On Christmas Day, 2010, I was taken to the emergency room at Queens Hospital Center for severe palpitations and endocarditis. I spent the next six days on an inpatient unit for close monitoring and intravenous antibiotics. I was a full time student back then with an income below poverty line and student health insurance that covered 95% of the medical expenses.
Two and a half years have passed and my out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance have sky rocketed from less than $40 to a few hundred dollars per month–a mere reflection of the change in my economic status from a full-time student to a full-time working, middle-class nurse. When I started working two years ago, my employer paid $4000 of an $8,000 premium for my health insurance. Currently, the same employer pays $4500 of an $11,000 premium for the same insurance. The problem here is that the paycheck hasn’t grown as much as the premiums and copayments did, adding to my financial stress as I try to live and work in New York City.

This makes me wonder how many middle-class, working families are struggling to pay for their medical expenses. You are not poor enough to qualify for government assistance, nor rich enough to pay for expenses out of pocket. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that a quarter of 45 million uninsured Americans in 2009 were middle class. AARP, in Middle Class Security Project, states that the “steep increases in the cost of premiums have led more workers to move to plans with lower premiums and less comprehensive coverage—trends that have increased the number of people at risk of being uninsured”–or underinsured. When the middle class experiences the risk of being uninsured or underinsured, there is a serious problem with our healthcare system. The Affordable Care Act will expand the number of people with health insurance by 2014 and will eliminate the co-payments for preventive services. But if the premiums stay high and the employers’ share of the premiums does not reflect the rising costs, then the working class, including myself, are at high risk of being uninsured or significantly underinsured.

Latest comments

  • Recently an article published in Time Magazine talked about how much we are being overcharged by the hospitals. Some of the most ridiculous ones were $5 for few Aspirins, $10 for the gloves the doctors used etc. America will never have true healthcare reform as long as our lawmaker are more interested to make their lobbyist ( Insurance companies, malpractice lawyers , pharmaceutical companies etc. ) happy instead of the citizens. As far as I am concerned, we need reforms in our political system more than anything else.

  • Completely Agreed Shyamal. We also need to fix some loopholes in our healthcare system, especially those frauds involving Medicaid and welfare. There are so many who truly need the assistance from Medicaid/Welfare, but there are also some that abuse the system. An year ago, I took care of a patient who came to the ED for complaints of chest pain. Xrays, blood tests, and ECHO found nothing. But the patient refused to leave the hospital stating that doctors and nurses are trying to kick her out without providing proper care for her ‘chest pain’. Her insurance took care of the expenses for the one day in-patient stay for ‘observation.Two days later, it turned out she was kicked out by her boyfriend and just needed a place to stay. I also know some families with income well above 50k and still receive food stamps and gov’t assistance. Frauds like these are really a huge blow to tax-payers! It takes away the financial resources that could be well spent on those who really need it.

  • I totally agree with you, health care services are required more by the people who cannot take care of them at their own. They need special care when they fall ill.

  • I was reading an online article, recently, about employers struggling financially to pay for employee health insurance premiums. Rising health insurance costs have really a strong impact on employers as well, as employers are also faced with tough economic times…

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