January 22nd, 2008
06:25 PM ET
10 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. Chris from Houston

    I am a nurse and universal healthcare will be extremely difficult because I see the unscrupolus waste and abuse by dope-head patients. Giving healthcare to children.. who cannot inherently make decisions for themselves is the best way and I'm for Obama's plan. Mandating..people dont understand that they will fine you for not wanting this stuff. Come on!!!

    January 22, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  2. Adam

    Evidence of uneven coverage, he didn't even know edwards name. Not only can it be quantified numerically in checking broadcasts it quantifies on the street talking to people.

    I suspect he'll remember it after he watches the debate.

    January 22, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Faye

    Tell hall he lives in another planet or he is one of those uneducated people who I feel bad about.

    January 22, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  4. Ally

    I would love to hear an update on what Hall thinks after watching the debate!

    January 22, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. Kimmy

    I am disgusted with your recent poll where you asked who would best solve the economic problems we are facing. You listed all the candidates that we could vote for. Where was Ron Paul's name? Is he not a candidate? He has been predicting this economic downfall for years! He has the only fiscal policy that actually realizes that we have only been putting a band-aid on the problem and not addressing the cause of the problems that we are now entrenched in.
    Your side remark was that Fred Thompson was not on the list because he had just dropped out of the race. I think Ron Paul is still on the ballot , last I heard. I also beleive Ron Paul got more votes than Fred Thompson and Rudy Guliani. Does that not seem like an unbiased list that you presented? I think so. If you are going to allow us to vote for a list of canditates I think we should be allowed to vote for all of them.
    Has CNN already decided who should win?
    I thought it was up to the ordinary people to decide. I thought it was the news media's responsibility to cover all the candidates unbiased so that we could make up our own minds.
    I beleive it is still one vote for each American.
    If you don't cover all the candidates how will Americans be able to make an educated decision? I thought that was the duty of a news station.
    It seems that I was wrong.

    January 22, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. ZH

    My explanation is simple: The Iraq war is casuing us spend 7 trillion a year, which will put the country in a great depression in teh near future. Fed is trying to delay this happening artificially by constantly lowering the interest rate, keeping the value of US$ low, which has a long term effect on the economy. We are going to face the worst depression ever.

    Therefore, those who supported the war, and threw in the mess, should be held accountable. None of them should be given a chance to be a president. Therefore, Hillary is the first one out from my list….

    January 22, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. Geeeez

    I am sure I am NOT the only one wondering WHY this dunce had to have FOUR children that he CANNOT afford??
    Get real.

    January 22, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  8. Joe T

    I would like to see some wealthy person engage media owners who are currently avoiding equal news-hour time to each of the canididates. ALL of the TV stations I routinely watch have chosen to avoid any sound-bites of Obama. Many of the observations by folk who I have heard on the many talk shows don't even seem to recognize this tactic and are basing their voting decisions on a biased presentation of what the candidates have to say. If I could get a wealthy person to sponsor my efforts to seek plain old fairness during this election season, I would be more than happy to be a modern-day Ralph Nader.

    January 22, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  9. JohnS

    Yes, take no money from the cooperations!!! But, can Edwards refund most of the funds he took from the cases he won on the back of "poor people?" We are talking here about millions and millions of dollars!!!

    I guess, the strong advocate here is for "lawyers" who are good at fighting to line up their pockets with the spoils of the poor. It often reminds me of presidents who send other people's kids to war but send their kids to institutions of higher education or "charity work" only to claim that they are …..

    Do not get me wrong, I have always been a supporter of Edwards. He should wait until Hillary loses to the Republicans and he can then sue the Republicans to help the dumb democrats who put Hillary out there as a nominee– got the picture?

    January 22, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  10. Nadia, New Hampshire

    Why no comments today from those who so vociferously decried the "boys piling on" in New Hampshire?

    I haven't heard a peep from anyone today after Senator Clinton and Senator Edwards ruthlessly ganged up on Senator Obama last night.

    Of course not. Nobody should be talking about it. That's life on the big stage. That's how it works in the crucible of Presidential politics.

    But it was the same thing in New Hampshire when so many were crying about Edwards and Obama correctly drawing distinctions with Senator Clinton about where she gets her money from.

    Shame on those who made it into something different when it was Senator Clinton being attacked. You always talk about double standards and yet bang the table for them when they suit your purpose.

    January 22, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  11. chrls enoch

    America really needs to wake up..us Dem's..don't seem to really know whats going on..The Clinton's are really playing a game here..it will back fire in the general election...This is the way i see it as and American..The Clinton's are up to something no good..They will pitch blacks against Hispanics in the west and play the gender card with Hilliary..so that will depress the black vote...They also will pitch BO as the black candidate..That's call divide at what ever cost..just to win..they're not doing this for America..they are doing it for themselves..my question is..how come she can't stay in SC and ask for there vote just like BO campaigned in Iowa and NH and ask the whites for their votes..dirty politics..i don't want to hear she left Bill behind..its a game that wil cost us to loose..Remember we need every vote in the general to win this..ifs she's the nominee....This isn't good politics peoples..and it will cost us down the line..remember what i just said

    January 22, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  12. chevyk

    This man is ready for the future, the only thing blocking him is stupid false emails. Obama is the candidate not only for this man but the United States.

    January 22, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  13. James Brown ( Independent )

    I totally agree , its not that people don't want Insurance , its that they can't afford it.

    Clinton and Edwards want to MANDATE there health plans , but if people don't have the money to buy there health plan and there forced to anyway , they will be losing there cars, homes , going hungry , etc.

    Obama's plan for Health Insurance is based on lowering the cost , so more people CAN buy it.

    Obama has the better Health Insurance Plan.

    January 22, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  14. Under Insured

    I feel for this man but I think we also need to address the plight of the under insured. I pay 10% of my income every month to insurance. For years I never used it because of the prohibitive copay but when my daughter severely burned herself and had to be hospitalized I stilled ended up with over $3000 dollars in bills I am responsible for. I think of the thousands I have paid in in the years I did not use my insurance and wonder if I would not have been better putting that money in a savings account or better yet invested in my childrens education and filed bankruptcy.

    January 22, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  15. Tina

    I think it would have been better to have the perspectives of a number of South Carolina voters, not just this one. I was left feeling that there wasn't a major point to this article. All it really tells us is that a middle aged man with a low paying job is afraid of Muslims, dislikes Hillary, and doesn't know who to vote for. So what? I'd much rather read an article about voter who is informed about the issues and the candidates, and actually has something interesting to contribute.

    January 22, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  16. Under Insured

    I feel fo rthis man but I also worry about the under insured as well. I have paid 10% of my income into insurance and yet when my daughter was briefly hospital, the copay completely has thrown off my financial plan. If I were to lose my job in the next year I would be homeless. Too many of us are living under this stress and another way must be found.

    January 22, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  17. Valerie

    Increased use of electronic health/medical record technology could significantly contribute to both decreasing the costs of health care and to improving the quality of care. We need more national attention to interoperability between systems. So far only the health care information technology of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delivers nationwide interoperability. While many patients of hospitals in the New Orleans area lost medical records during the Katrina disaster, not a single VA patient record was lost!

    January 22, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  18. Dan

    Everyone seems to forget about the UNDER-Insured. There are alot of people that are not insured that actually qualify for state insurance, but there are alot of people that cant afford their "employer" family insurance, and thefore the only option is to not insure the rest of their family or get individual insurance for them at a HIGH deductable. And not being able to pay for the inidivual premiums PRE-tax is just KILLING underinsured americans...

    I think Hillary has a great plan for universal health care, and to my understanding one of the only plans that is "actually" universal. It covers everyone and helps people that can not get or afford insurance through their empolyer.

    Alot of people dont realize that JUST because your employer offers health insurance, doesnt mean it is AFFORDABLE.

    We need more choices, and we need pretax options that dont include just employer plans.

    January 22, 2008 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  19. Bill

    Let's not 'sugar-coat' this. I see no way the health care industry will ever be changed in this country. Look at it realistically. Personally, I have worked for many years. At one point, I had insurance that was paid for by my employer and didn't cost me a dime. Today, I pay a LARGE portion of my premium. Why? Simple. People take advantage of the situation. We have too many citizens that expect to be taken care of by someone else instead of getting out and doing an honest day's work. Don't give me the 'nobody will hire me' thing. Nobody will hire you only because you don't want to be hired. I have no idea what it's going to take to fix this country, but one thing is certain; not one of the candidates will be able to do it. This can't be fixed by government by itself.

    January 22, 2008 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  20. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    I'm seldom anything but cynical so it feels a bit odd being sincere, but I sincerely respect Mr Hall. He's obviously on the ragged financial edge but rather than trying to demand that someone else pay his bills–something that an absurd percentage of the population expects–he's making every effort to take responsibility for himself and his family.

    The country would be a whole lot better off if more people understood, as Mr Hall said, "Somebody is going to have to pay for it.” That's the fundamental fact that socialists like Clinton and Obama ignore and don't want the rest of us to realise. No government can ever create money. All it can do is shuffle money around, wasting a large fraction of it in the process, and playing politics and buying votes with it while it's in their possession.

    About a third of the U.S. Federal budget falls into the "Somebody is going to have to pay for it" category–expenditures made on behalf of individuals who aren't paying their own bills. Another 8% goes to paying interest on the national debt, much of which was incurred by paying peoples' bills. All of this results in taxes that are already putting a strain on Mr Hall's wallet and providinging him no benefit at all.

    January 22, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  21. Chaunda,IN

    This story like many can easily be seen as a thinly veiled attempt to bash Hillary and boost up Barack. I would go with he is no fan of Hillary but the "intrigued by Obama"? Is that a quote because it is not in quotation marks and based on what is quoted “His religion scares me,” wouldn't the word leery be just as appropriate.

    I have tried very hard give the press the benefit of the doubt about the slanting they seem use but my patience is being tried.

    Tina I agree I would much rather see more articles about informed people who are likely to vote.

    January 22, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  22. Khwaty

    Make having health insurance a mandate, its like having car insurance, if you don't have the minimum requirement for car insurance, they'll take away your driver's license, impound your vehicle and penalize you. We can do the same thing for health insurance.

    There's no such thing as a free ride. People wanted to have health coverage, but human nature always find a way or excuse not paying for it. Make it into LAW, that's the only way to do it.

    January 22, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  23. Yamaka

    Hall and all others must realize that we need to pay for our healthcare whether you are poor or rich.

    But if you are poor the Govt must provide some subsidy to buy at least the basic health coverage.

    All catastrophic illness like cancer, neurological diseases, chronic diabetes etc must be covered by a National Health Fund formed by taxes, and gifts from private citizens.

    Right now we cannot get rid of the Insurance Companies: they are profit seeking intermediates.

    But slowly the Govt can take over the Healthcare Provider Status once the HillaryCare becomes successful. Profits should not have a place in Public Health.

    January 22, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  24. Wayne in KC

    I have to agree mostly with Tina and her comments. This person is NOT representative of the average voter...I HOPE!!! If he is foolish enough to vote for a Republican, who will lower corporate and wealthy individuals' taxes, he's gonna find himself in as bad or worse shape in 4 years. He'd be better off just staying home, rather than going out and voting blind and ignorant.

    January 22, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  25. vicky

    Why use the opinion of one person to make a headline? This is absolutlely bias reporting.

    January 22, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
1 2 3