In Nebraska, a loophole in a newly changed law intended to provide safe havens for infants born to teenage mothers has had the unintended consequence of allowing parents of children of any age to legally abandon them. Legal abandonment has long been the insurance of last resort for parents of chronically ill children forced to buy insurance on the individual market. But now even healthy children are being abandoned.
Enter Nebraska, where a well intentioned legal change has illustrated the difficulty of preserving families when jobs disappear.
Parents of even healthy children who might have been able to care for children are leaving children as old as 17 at designated child abandonment safe havens. Not wanting their children to starve, living in cars, etc, many have been giving their children up to become wards of the state, where they can receive health insurance, dental care, and food.
Enter President Elect Obama. Obama has promised to "change" healthcare in 2012 while keeping the expensive insurance companies in the loop, mandating parents to "insure" their children, making it affordable by giving them the "choice" of buying high deductible health care plans or capped plans, if that is all they can afford. (They are supposed to put the thousands of dollars they are saving in tax free medical savings accounts so that when bills come, they will be ready, however, few people have the money. Also, IF they even momentarily drop coverage for a sick child (for example, are 15 minutes late with a payment) and get sick during that time, they will be dropped and not be able to buy insurance again. Also, many parents will not be able to afford individual insurance for their children if their chldren have chronic diseases because the insurance companies quoted profitable "fair price" will be based on their very small group, and priced by its risk. If one member of a family sized group has high risk, the fair price is a high price.)
Some "choice"! High deductible health plans will leave parents struggling with hundreds or thousands of dollars in unpaid bills before they reach deductibles, and all expenses over lifetime or monthly or yearly caps. People will see bills that represent costs that they are not able to cope with. This will lead to an epidemic in child abandonment.
No efforts will be made by individuals fighting for their survival against the system, each alone and isolated. No realistic government efforts will be made to contain costs, as are done with Medicare.
This will lead to a boon for faith based adoption agencies as children are given up by their desperate birth parents.
During the Bush years, many churches have become involved in "facilitating" adoptions of poor children, sometimes children involuntarily taken from irresponsible poor mothers unable to pay bills for their housing or often, maternity costs of hospital stays. If they give their child up for adoption, their bills are often paid. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the bill for an unusual or difficult pregnancy can be as high as $126,000.
This is a huge debt for a young girl. Changes to bankruptcy laws have made it much harder for people to discharge debts through bankruptcy. Women are often offered money to relinquish all rights to children. Also, homeless parents are often prosecuted for child endangerment or irresponsible parenting and their children are taken away. Although they are told that Child Protective Services will make an effort to keep siblings together, it is only in about a quarter of cases that this actually is possible. Often children are brokered to parents in different states, not unlike the experience of indentured servants or slaves arriving in America. Adoption confidentaility laws make it very hard for children to find their siblings later on in life. Churches make approximately $40,000 per child.
What do you think about mandating parents to insure children no matter what the "fair price" turns out to be? Bear in mind that if they lie about the childrens health in order to get them covered they may be forced to repay any money paid out to doctors under false pretenses by insurers, retroactively, and may lose coverage. That is one of the benefits of Medical IT, making sure that people's medical histories and those of their parents and gransparents are available to health insurers so they can make informed decisions. Obama strongly supports Medical IT because he says that it will reduce the cost of health insurance. Insurers say that they must be allowed to decide who to cover and who not to cover. That choice is a cornerstone of the free market.