January 22nd, 2008
06:25 PM ET
12 years ago

Real People, Real Issues: The plight of the uninsured

ABOARD THE ELECTION EXPRESS, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (CNN) - Gene Hall didn’t watch Monday night’s Democratic presidential debate. The 46-year-old father of four was working – delivering pizzas until late into the night.

It was Hall’s second shift of the day. Earlier, he was behind the wheel of his Beach Boy taxi. Hall told me he has no insurance - when one of his children needs to go to the doctor, he pays out of his own pocket.

“If I was to get sick for two or three days, I am in trouble,” he said.

The plight of the uninsured is a central theme in this year’s presidential race. But unlike many people who are calling for a universal health care plan, Hall doesn’t think that is the answer.

“Somebody is going to have to pay for it,” said Hall, who added he thinks it would mean an increase in taxes. A tax increase is a hit to the wallet that Hall cannot afford.

Hall said that before our conversation, he had been talking to his wife about how to pay this month’s bills. What remained would go to groceries, he said.

Hall said he is not supporting any particular candidate, and does not even identify himself with a particular political party. One thing is for certain, Hall is no fan of Hillary Clinton.

“She just seems wishy-washy,” he said. “I think she tells people what she wants they want to hear.”

As for Obama, Hall seems intrigued, but added he is concerned about his religion. Obama, a Christian, has been forced to bat down erroneous rumors that he is a Muslim and was educated in a radical madrassa.

“His religion scares me,” Hall said. “They say he is a Christian.”

When I tell him that he is in fact a Christian, Hall seems a bit relieved. But if Hall still thinks that Obama is a radical Muslim, surely other voters must as well. Unfortunately for Obama, the madrassa rumor still lives on. As for John Edwards, a South Carolina son, Hall can’t even recall his name.

Perhaps Tuesday night that will all change. Hall taped the debate that was sponsored by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. He is going to give the candidates another look - his vote is up for grabs.

What is he looking for in a candidate?

“Somebody that is going to look out for us,” he said.

And he hasn’t ruled out voting for a Republican in November.

- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Having someone to look after your interests–is a lot different from having someon "take care of you".

    There will be no substitute for training, education, experience in our modern economy. Small businessmen...like Taxi owners–must decide if their enterprise is making money–if not then move on.

    Government can't cure all ills. Universal healthcare–promises to remove the superior quality of our nations healthcare–and will remove choices–particularly for those of us who strive to enjoy the extra conveniences, specialists, and premier heatlhcare that money can buy.

    In order for healthcare competition to continue–we must continually provide service and quality like any other industry. When the incentive to compete is gone–the quality will decline...and eventually our faith and satisfaction with the healthcare system.

    Rich people will be flying to Mexico for surgery...we'll be stuck with here.

    January 23, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    "I am a teacher, with health coverage from my district, but in order to have a baby, I would have to pay $5000 out of pocket expenses. How many teachers that you know of just have $5000 laying around?"

    If you can't afford to spend $5000 now, how in the world do you plan to pay for your baby's clothes, food, toys, school expenses, bicycles, baseball gloves, the bigger house you'll eventually need, increased car insurance when (s)he learns to drive, and college education? That $5000 is absolutely trivial compared to the cost of raising a kid. I know; I have three. And just keeping them fed, housed, and clothed costs many, many, thousands of dollars every year.

    It's just plain irresponsible to have a kid you can't afford to take care of and raise.

    "America, the time has come for us to socialize medicine. Canada does it. England does it."

    If healthcare is so great in Canada, why do huge numbers of Canadians come to U.S. hospitals when they have serious medical problems? If it's so great in England, why do people have to wait months or years for necessary but not life-threatening medical treatment?

    "We socialize education. Why not healthcare?"

    Do you really want healthcare to become the bureaucratic, politicised, inefficient, ineffective, mess that American education has become? If you're a teacher, you know how balled up the school system is. Do you really want your hospitals run by the same collection of clowns that run your school system?

    In every place it's tried, privatised schools–charter schools and the like–routinely out-perform the normal "socialised" schools in quality of education, reduced cost-per-student, and teacher satisfaction. (Not precisely on-topic, but the solution is to privatise education, not socialise medicine.)

    "Its a sad day when an illegal immigrant has the ability to go to our hospitals free of charge and our own citizens don't.

    Yep, it sure is. Which is why illegals should be sent home for their medical care.

    January 23, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. demwit

    A South Carolina Taxi/Pizza driver with 4 kids, that thinks of Hillary as squirrely, afraid of Obama's religion and doesn't even know who John Edwards is?? 10 to 1, Gene Hall is not even American.

    Come on CNN... This was the guy that pick your reporter up at the airport.

    January 23, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. therealist

    If Gene makes less than 35,000 per year then his family qualifies for the SCHIP healthcare program. So evidently, Gene isn't smart enough to enroll in SCHIP, not an American or lying. Best team in politics? Yeah right..

    January 23, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Ready for Change in VA

    FYI Henry. I can afford the $5000 because my husband and I are savers....but there are many people out there that do not have that kind of money. Don't call me irresponsible when you no nothing about me. When the health corporations can charge $18,000 for a thirty minute gallbladder surgery, then the system is corrupt. When the health coverage that you pay $400 a month for to cover two adults will not pay the total cost of childbirth, the system is corrupt. If you can't recognize that, then you are seriously out of touch.

    Furthermore, how many folks from Cananda or England have you had conversations with? I have been told, first hand, that the healthcare in England and Argentina is very good. And, if you choose to purchase top-quality care, then you have the option to pay for a corporate upgrade. I don't know about you, but I would rather have mediocre healthcare than none!

    I love the arguement that "I don't want to pay for someone else's care," and perhaps it is my religion that makes me resent this statement so much. Most of the time I hear this out of the mouths of fellow Christians...you know, those that are supposed to strive to be "Christ-like." Do you think Jesus would deny people healthcare? I seriously doubt it.

    January 25, 2008 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  6. Ready for Change in VA

    Oh-not to mention that fact that the healthcare here isn't all that great sometimes. I suffered for 3 years with severe pain and trouble eating. I went to several doctors, had tons of tests performed on me, and was told that it was all in my head. I was given an anti-anxiety medicine and told that it was probably acid reflux. It wasn't. It was a non-functioning gallbladder the entire time. If our healthcare system wants to have something to brag about and charge people an arm and a leg for, then maybe they need to have sheets on hosptial beds that don't have holes in them and do more for patients than tell them they are crazy.

    January 25, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
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