Paying for health care is everyone's concern

Ray Morehead and Jason Townsend rolled the dice on health care. Both self-employed, they chose to go without health insurance to have extra money in their pockets. "I'm in good health in general, so I just didn't think it was worth the money," said Townsend, 25.

Neither did Morehead, 43.

Then a red spot on his abdomen proved to be a staph infection. He landed in the hospital, where he found out he had diabetes.

Now he's paying off an $11,000 hospital bill. He struggles with insulin costs of $700 a month and hasn't found affordable health insurance that will accept him with a pre-existing medical condition.

"Like an idiot, I bought shoes instead of buying insurance," he said. "Like many people, I thought I would never get sick."

Townsend, on the other hand, didn't get sick. And he now has a job with health care benefits.

Their stories end differently, but they share concerns about health care costs -- as do many Americans, both workers and business owners.

Respondents to three recent national polls ranked health care third -- after the economy and national security or the war -- among issues important in deciding their presidential vote.

Most people can point out what is wrong with health care in the United States: too many lawsuits, insurance that costs too much, benefits that don't cover enough, difficulty getting coverage.

"What voters are talking about is somebody they know that lost their insurance or how their prescriptions went up or they don't have health insurance," said Kansas House Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita.

Lawmakers at the state and federal level have proposed fixes. But most people acknowledge there are no easy answers.

"If it was a simple solution we would have found it," said Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, who helped develop the Legislature's health care reform package during the last session. "It is a lot more complicated than a sound bite."

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