Healthcare for $8.50 a Month?

The Ithaca Health Fund blazes an innovative trail

| January 8, 2004

The Ithaca Health Fund proceeds systematically to make preventive and innovative health care more affordable, and to recapture health insurance premiums for local health purposes.

According to the United Nations, our health system ranks 37th in the world, far behind first-ranked France and second-ranked Italy. The main reason for our poor performance is that healthcare here is seen as a for-profit business. In every other industrialized country, healthcare is a right delivered through some sort of national health program.

Activists in Ithaca, NY, have created a local non-profit fund (think co-op supermarket) to pool money in order to reduce health costs, support each other, and make healthy living easier. The need for this arises, they say, from the fact that costs of health insurance and care rose by half in the last decade. Thousands of Ithacans have no medical insurance at all, and others have simply poor coverage, with high deductibles. Their situation is much the same as the rest of the country -- 44 million Americans have no health coverage. But as national health coverage is consistently looked upon with disfavor, by members of congress and the industry which lines their pockets with our cash, Ithacans have taken to a grass-roots plan in hopes that it will grow throughout the country.

Members pay as little as $100 per year for limited coverage for catastrophic care and emergency services. However, as membership grows, coverage expands. What's more, members need not pay merely in dollars. They can also pay in community service hours, home visit credits and barter. Further, the plan allows for independence among members, lending credence to naturopathic and homeopathic remedies which have proved useful in the past.

Above all, the plan is an affront to a system which uses 52% of the budget for military spending (past wars and war debt, plus present spending) while health receives a mere 16%. The Ithaca Health Fund is not just insurance, but a collective challenge to a collective (un)consciousness that has left many of us broke, and broken.
-- Adam Overland

Go there>>Ithaca Health Fund