Commentary: Healthcare reform is needed now

How’s the U.S. health care system working out for you?

For me, just so-so. I have a policy, but to keep it I have to stay employed and healthy. In America, nothing is as hazardous to your health insurance as getting seriously ill.

A dear friend of my sister recently died of cancer. The heartbreak was compounded when her family filed for bankruptcy and lost their home. She had carried the family's insurance policy … until she became too sick to work.

A while ago my family responded to a fundraising plea for a college student with a rare form of cancer. When he dropped out of school to concentrate on saving his life, he became uninsured and uninsurable.

We all know people in this sinking boat. Yet a recent poll by Rasmussen Reports said that 49 percent of voters think President Barack Obama's administration should wait until the economy improves before moving forward on health care reform.

"We're just not going to be able to go there," U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Democrat from Kansas City, told The Kansas City Star.

We have to go there.

How can we not, when 46 million Americans are without health insurance? When medical bills are a leading cause of personal bankruptcy? When health costs are crippling businesses?

The cost of employer-paid health insurance in Missouri soared by more than 76 percent in eight years, according to consumer group Families USA. In that period, 2000 to 2007, family health insurance premiums for Kansas workers increased five times as fast as median earnings.

To read the complete column, visit www.kansascity.com.