Skip to comments.The Best Health Insurance Program
Posted on 08/30/2008 4:20:12 PM PDT by kathsua
The nation's best insurance program will receive a lot of publicity this weekend. Jerry Lewis will conduct the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon this weekend.
The Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon has been a tradition since the first Labor Day telethon in New York City in 1966. Lewis and former comedy partner Dean Martin had previously conducted a telethon in New York City in 1955, but it wasn't on Labor Day. Jerry Lewis and all the other performers donate their services and receive no payment.
Most people don't think of MDA as being an insurance program because it doesn't charge fees from those who need its services. You don't have to have donated to MDA in the past to benefit from its treatment programs. Patients don't have to donate money to MDA to continue receiving treatment, but they or their families often help MDA raise money so that it can continue to assist them and others.
MDA not only provides treatment and other services, such as summer camp for children patients, but it also researches the nature of the over 40 neuromuscular diseases it covers and attempts to develop treatments that can cure those disorders or delay their progression.
"The only requirement for receiving an evaluation at an MDA clinic is the written recommendation of a physician in whose judgment a person may have one of the neuromuscular diseases covered by the Associations medical services program." This requirement is reasonable because MDA doctors would have less time to treat MDA patients if they had to spend their time diagnosing unrelated disorders.
Similarly, paying only costs not covered by a patient's regular insurance allows MDA to help more people than it would be able to help otherwise. MDA can't raise its insurance rates to cover cost increases like traditional private or public insurance programs, so it needs to limit its costs to treatment that isn't already covered by other insurance programs
MDA is an example of the type of organization we need more of. Other examples are St. Jude's (supported by the late comedian Danny Thomas and his daughter Marlo) and the Shriners' hospitals. What they offer is pure insurance. People who can afford to help pool their resources so that whoever needs help can obtain it. The practice is a survival from the days when Americans helped each other without worrying about any immediate benefit for themselves. They helped because they knew that if they needed help others would help them.
MDA's research focuses on muscular dystrophy, but the treatments and knowledge that research produces can benefit people with other disorders. One of those treatments saved Jerry Lewis' life several years ago when he had a major heart problem. Recently, MDA researchers announced they have found a way to use a patient's skin cells as stem cells to treat ALS. Being able to use skin cells as stem cells will help treatment of many other unrelated disorders. This year's telethon will be broadcast on local stations throughout the country as well as on cable and satellite on Chicago's WGN. Those who prefer the Internet can find the telethon on MDA's website. The website currently has highlights from last year's telethon available. A new fund raising activity this year is an online auction that will run through Sep. 4.
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