Is President Obama's health reform plan resonating with Minnesotans?

by Andrew Haeg, Minnesota Public Radio
September 11, 2009

MPR News is gathering perspectives on President Obama's health reform plan from Minnesotans in the Public Insight Network. We asked them to share how their health care experience is informing their views of the President's plan.

They told us what their position on Obama's health care plan was before his September 9th speech to Congress, and how that speech and subsequent information affected their views on health reform.

Share your experience.

Who Before After Why?                                              Experience                                            Birth Occupation

Laurel Benedict, Coon Rapids
support support
"He was very clear about what it would include and I agreed with what he said. He openly dispelled crazy rumors that Republicans have spread. 'Public Option' is a choice that creates healthy competition -- that's good. The insurance companies will have to "earn" our business with best practices. Basically they need to be regulated because they have failed us. Capitalism only works when people are honest and fair -- they aren't. I look forward to the changes! Go Obama!"
"My husband died because we did not have good health insurance and he did not get the treatment he needed. I have 2 adult children with serious mental health issues. One on SSI and the other not. The one without faces homelessness, because of no health insurance for treatment."
1947 Independent teacher/ substitute with no support from school system
K Burston, Minneapolis support support
"I support it, but still have questions. I don't see how we can not cover illegal immigrants without affecting the transparency of the cost structure and (therefore) negatively impacting our ability to monitor cost. After all, hospitals must treat everyone or else there would be dead people stacked up at the door. And if they treat immigrants, they will be charging someone -- usually by overcharging our insurance. So Obama's promise, while politically savvy, is practically disingenuous."
"As someone who is legally blind without corrective lenses, and who has to spend $400 on just glasses lenses, I want to know why vision care is treated as secondary for nearly all employers. Without glasses, I would not be able to take a shower and make breakfast, much less drive to work and stare at tiny print on a computer screen for 10 hours a day. Will a public option provide eyecare for the millions of people who need it to be productive members of society? Or dental care for the people who live with crippling pain of untreated problems with their teeth?"
1968 Marketing

Pamela Capin, Eveleth
unsure support
"President Obama seemed to have a great deal of confidence in his plan. I was happy to learn that I could retain my employer-provided health insurance with sames, yet if I was laid off I would still have health insurance. After a recent bout with cancer I will need to have frequent check-ups for recurrence. What really changed my opinion was the proposal that insurance companies could not deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition."
"I recently had surgery for cancer and was referred to Abbott Northwestern hospital by my gynecologist because there were no gynecologic oncologists in the northern part of the state. I have BCBS insurance but my out-of-pocket expenses were still high enough where I had to pay bills off monthly or put them on a credit card. It will be a while before it's all paid off."
1955 Reservations/sales agent
Leonard Cone, Burnsville unsure support
"Cleared up some 'rumors.' Turned off by the lies put forth by opposition. Read the proposed text of the bill and am always concerned about the basic problem -- health care costs are rising faster than the ability to pay."
"We have been healthy and have required little health services What we have received has been satisfactory. I have noticed that the cost of health care has increased and the co-pay has increased. I had a minor problem when I recently had an injury to my elbow I was given a medication for pain. I researched the medicine and found it to be double strength Advil -- my co-pay was 10 dollars. I could have purchased lots of Advil for 10 dollars."
1943 Computer Systems Architect
Glenn Farwell, Oakdale support support
"The many issues and huge amount of misinformation regarding this pending legislation is amazing to me. To my knowledge, the President has authored no bill for health care reform. His party has taken the lead to do so, and borne the fire of those who oppose the thought of change. I don't understand the oppositions point -- unless they all hold stock in the insurance companies. I took notice that the Presidents speech "called out" the folks who are disingenuous and counter-productive."
"The creation of HMO-driven healthcare has failed in the promise to hold down costs. In an HMO the doctor is faced with managing care on a doller basis, requiring them to consider rationing certain diagnoses and treatments. The goal is to keep it cheap -- and the profits high. Hence we have under-staffed health care and the stock-holders (many of them are doctors) reaping the profits. The fox is watching over the chicken coop!"
1950 Public service

Michael Gmitter, Minneapolis

unsure unsure
"The president still did not offer enough specifics. Useful information he provided was minimal. His speech was more like a pep rally. 'Let's Go Team.' Also, his speech was a warning to those who had opposite views and if they should express them 'We Will Call You Out.' Some of the president's stats and analogies do not hold up, even according to some people in his own party. His delivery was good. I agree with the president our health care system needs much improvement!"
"I was priced out of the market. This is the first time in about 40 years I have not had medical coverage because of the high cost. On several occasions, I questioned my insurance company about fees for services charge to my insurance provider. I was told it was my responsibility to contest the charges with the provider (s). My impression was the insurance company does not care or monitor charges by providers. This attitude contributes to the high medical cost. The insurance companies are part of the problem." 1955 Clergy

Susan Hasti, minneapolis

unsure unsure
"I have not liked the plan from the beginning, because there is nothing in it that will reduce the horrific bureaucracy of the multitude of insurance plans. On the other hand, if the public option will lead to a reduction over time of the insurance industry, then it could lead to improvement."
"My personal experience comes as a physician working in a community health care clinic. 50 percent of our patients are uninsured, most of them are working. I find that I cannot do what I was trained to do medically, because so often, the patient cannot afford the treatment or the test. It is truly heartbreaking and adds a lot of stress to my job. Furthermore, I now do two hours of paperwork for every four hours of patient care. And the addition of the electronic medical record has made my care less efficient, it takes extra time to document office visits so I can see fewer people. Much of the paperwork could be eliminated entirely if we had a single payer system. I have seen my own health insurance plan deteriorate over the last 10 years. The only fortunate thing for me is that I have no health concerns. Every year my employer contracts with a different plan which a different physician panel. This destroys any hope of continuity of care for me and my family unless I choose to pay extra to allow out of network access. The multi-payer system is bad for everyone."
1961 Family physician

Richard Lacher, Northome
against against
"Once again, the President lectured us on scare tactics, then said more would die if we did not pass his program. He then called Sarah Palin a liar. Is this proper?"
I have no problems with my health care. I live far enough from military care and can access my own Doctors. 1941 Volunteer

Robert Langford, Minneapolis
support support
"This was an affirmation of the important points that he has presented consistently in the past, with more detail. Unless you are blind, stupid, or incredibly selfish, you must know the plan meets our country's critical needs. Onlly obstructive people with agendas that I could not fathom will not support it and try to stop its passage."
"I have received treatment for Congestive Heart Failure from some of the most highly rated facilities in the country, and appreciate the care. The VA, which I feared would be just bureaucratic, has proved to be the most consistently comfortable place for my primary coverage, mostly because of the way they approach medical care. They work with patients to develop a really good understanding of the conditions treated, encourage and enable preventative and remedial life style, and seem to really care about the patients."
1936 Retired

Kathy Mattsson, Minnetonka

unsure support
"I felt President Obama made things more clear and he was very specific about a number of points."
"We are pretty healthy and come from families that were healthy and people who lived long lives. But my son, whose insurance I pay through Minnesota Care, cannot work because of a back problem and chronic pain, and we worry about him. He has been waiting."
1945 Part-time Teacher (semi-retired)

Carol Miletti, Mound
support support
"I believe strongly that we need change ASAP. I was disappointed in the four-year mark to make everything effective. I was elated that the pre-exisiting condition will change right away. I have a rare disease -- thus a pre-existing condition, and was also just this week diagnosed with melanoma. I pay $900/month for just myself as I cannot get anything cheaper. I'm only able to work part-time, and it is very difficult to get ends to meet. The time is now -- before we all go bankrupt."
"I have a rare disease and my health insurance including deductible runs $900/month for just me. I am only able to work part-time due to this disease. Half of my income goes to pay my health care right now. I have very little left for other expenses. I'm an independent consultant so that I can take the days off when I get sick and get the recommended sleep I need. I do not feel like I should file for disability -- I still feel like I can contribute to society -- but the cost of health care is going to do me in. I work just to pay that bill -- and I'm close to defaulting on other bills right now. I have to prioritize -- and it's health care if I want to live."
1948 Health care consultant
Mike Packer, Bloomington against against
"I am still very wary of Government running health care. I still do not trust that they do not want to move to a single-payer plan. I have good insurance that I want to keep!"
My most pressing concerns are that government will take over health care. We have government healthcare now, look at Medicare, look at the VA health system. They need to make those work before they try and take over the rest of the market. I am VERY HAPPY
1956 sofware company

Nancy Schumacher, Elk River
support support
"Because the cost of my health insurance is hurting me. For the first time in my life, the premium went up mid-year, not because my employer is evil but because it costs them so much. I am so broke because of the recession, instead of up in premiums, what about down in premiums? Do I have to sell me house and lose all equity just to get out from the payment? What do I have to look forward to? I am almost 59 & life is not looking happy."
"I had kidney cancer in 2005 and had my left kidney removed. Though insured, I had to refinance my house to pay for deductibles, etc. Now, I avoid seeing a doctor for maintenance because tests are always asked for and I would have to pay for them. I am educated, informed and scared of the whole medical issue."
1950 Administrative Assistant

Danette Steinwall, Bloomington
unsure support
"I think the President made it clear that he supports a public option. I am still not sure if the public option would be available to everyone, but I think it should be. Why not give all Americans the option and let us decide which plan gives us the most for our money? I would rather give my money to government bureaucrats than for-profit insurance bureaucrats. I am also infuriated when opponents refer to this option as "a government takeover" of our healthare. How do they get there?!"
"I changed jobs and tried to buy insurance in the private market, but my husband and daughter were denied coverage due to pre-existing mental health conditions. We couldn't afford Minnesota's High Risk Pool plan. I had to change jobs again."
1958 Retail sales, home decorating
Beverly Stone, Brooklyn Park unsure unsure
"I am not convinced about the public option because there is too little information about its creation. We need no more bureaucracies. Also, he didn't discuss standardizing forms (which could result in a huge savings). I agree with his other tenets and think spending the money is definitely worth it."
"I wound up filing for bankruptcy because I had deteriorating knees, and my medical bills were high. Everything I worked for my entire life is now gone. In addition, my job ended (business downsized), and no one would hire me because of a serious limp (I was literally told that over and over). I could not get hired because businesses feared future health care expenses, and I could not get insurance because I had a previous injury. There was no way to 'win,' and I lost everything."
1947 Works for environmental agency

Mike Tierney, Dellwood
unsure support
"I liked the concession on tort reform even though I never felt this was a 'real' issue. It did address an issue that Republicans have wanted dealt with. I liked the position he took about 'calling out' those who use the plan as a political issue like Sarah Palin and her death squad agenda. I liked the tone and tenor of the speech."
"The issue of cost never addresses the fact that 60-plus percent of health care dollars are spent in the last six months of people's lives. Until we address that issue we will never control costs. And there is no politician with the nerve to mention it. As long as Senate and congress have their own plans for health and retirement they will not address Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, or health insurance."
1947 Sales
Shannon Wohlman, Burnsville unsure support
"I still have my concerns, however I appreciated how Obama addressed misinformation, paying for the program, and clarified some points. I think the plan is well thought out and a good start. I am still concerned about losing the quality of health care, but something NEEDS to be done."
"I have a doctor I absolutely love and trust. She has done a wonderful job managing my conditions, and was the first to take time and actually listen to my concerns. When I switched to my husband's plan (cheaper with better coverage) I discovered she is out-of-network. Now I'm faced with the decision of having to find a new doctor because we cannot afford to keep her. We are both full-time students, and working (myself full-time and my husband part-time), so it's difficult to make ends meet. We often wonder if we should scale back our health insurance plan to allow for extra money. The concern is, I have some health concerns that can be unpredictable, and my husband has had some surprise health concerns. We certainly cannot afford to pay even more money on non-covered procedures!"
1981 Social worker
Who Before After Why? Experience Birth Occupation