Amanda Palmer Pic insurance poll

Since launching #InsurancePoll on Twitter last week (read about it here), Amanda Palmer’s trending insurance survey has stirred overwhelming response.

Palmer is the indy rock star who — motivated by New York Times columnist Nick Kristof’s piece about 10 days ago,  about his college roommate’s struggle with cancer as an uninsured person — asked her 702,000 Twitter followers about their health insurance. Thousands have tweeted back answers to the poll’s four questions: Country (of residence)? Profession? Insured? If not, why not, If so at what cost per month?  The answers reveal a startling disparity between insurance premiums, limitations and coverage.

1) USA 2) physician 3) yes 4) 700 for 4 of us after 5,000 dollar deductible, even then it’s 90/10.

I’m British: I have the #NHS, with free prescriptions, eye tests & dental checks cos I live in Scotland.

1) USA 2) Development Technician 3) Yes, insured 4) $300/mo, spouse and I.

My father died of cancer. My mom said treatment cost = $1.5M. Completely paid by their various insurance plans

1) US 2) Grad Student 3) No 4) expense and pre-existing IDDM

At my husband’s old job, it cost more per month to have their health insurance than he made a month not including deductible.

1) USA 2) Student/Disabled 3) Yes 4) I am insured through disability. Thank god!!!

If i was living in the USA i´d be living in a tent under a bridge after my 8 month of sickness/surgery/recovery

1) Mass. US; 2) retired IT geek; 3) yes; 4) $860/mo + $1K deductible + $2K OOP max And I am healthy! Vote Obamacare!

Just lost my health insurance because I make $50/month too much. Hate the health care in this country.

1)USA 2) Office Mgr. 3) NO 4) Kids insured by the state, my ins. denied because torn ACL 4 yrs ago. Worry every. single. Day

More startling than these answers are the stories coming through: accounts of Americans whose health and well-being have suffered (and some who have lost their lives) due to lack of insurance; outrage from those who have racked up thousands in medical bills, even while insured; disbelief from Europeans, Australians, Canadians and others who are covered by comprehensive national healthcare plans; criticism of the U.S. healthcare system; and genuine empathy among those who share experiences, stories and misfortunes. Here are a few.

“Somewhere in 2006, my hip gave out. I have congenital hip dysplasia (the ball and socket joints weren’t connected), and apparently 22 was a good time to fuck up my shocks. Walking and standing became a painful chore. But I had no health insurance. I was on my own, working a $1000 a month job with $800 in school loan bills to pay – I couldn’t afford to take care of myself, and Mom wasn’t an option anymore… Whatever powers that be decided that I would marry a Canadian lad, meaning that as soon as I got my green card in 2011, I was eligible for the Ontario Health Insurance Plan. Around the same time, we got the Cadillac-level insurance plan through Lino’s work. Thankfully, I have a brilliant family doctor who literally giggled with glee when I showed her my insurance.”

“My husband and I both worked full time and had no insurance for ourselves, but had our daughter covered through public aid for $15 a month. When he noticed an odd swelling/spot on his tounge in 2005, our only option was a pay scale clinic to have it checked out. The waiting list was nearly a month. He waited his time, was seen for a few moments and was quickly diagnosed with an infection and prescribed an antibiotic. He ran the course of antibiotics and there was no improvement, so he made another appointment with the clinic, which was about another month long wait. In the meantime his tongue became pretty frightening and I made him go to the emergency room. They informed us that the spot on his tongue was actually oral cancer…  He died 6 months after being first diagnosed with a very small, curable, oral cancer. I get SOOOOO angry thinking that from day 1, if we had insurance, the doctors would have ran all possible tests from the get go instead of waiting for us to raise the funds for a small scan on the concentrated area.”

“I wish more people understood how broken the system is. Almost 9 years ago I started treatment for cancer. I had insurance & I still have over $50,000 of medical debt because treatments to save my life were not covered. I continued to work my job while sick from harsh chemo treatments so i didnt lose the insurance. I’m now uninsured with two preexisting conditions and cannot get insurance. I live everyday with the fear that if the cancer returns I will likely die with lack of proper care.”


Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...