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July 12, 2009 7:43 PM   Subscribe

My taxes should pay for health care for all Americans, but they don't. I can donate $1,000 right now; what organization will use that money most effectively to provide care for uninsured/underinsured people in the United States?

This thread made me check my finances and realize I can afford to help. Ideally, I'd like to find something with a broader scope than Remote Area Medical, but RAM seems to do a tremendous amount of good per dollar even with the limited services they can provide. The Children's Health Fund covers more territory and scores high on Charity Navigator, but its size, mission creep beyond providing care, and sources of corporate support make me skeptical. Most of the other charities I've found are local free clinics in places that aren't near me. What other organizations should I consider?
posted by haltingproblemsolved to Grab Bag (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
what organization will use that money most effectively to provide care for uninsured/underinsured people in the United States?

Change Congress - while health care reform isn't it primary purpose, they are going after the cause of the trouble in Washington, lobbyists and special interest groups. Once those organizations are unable to influence congress people, the problem of getting a nationalized health care system thru congress won't be a problem at all.

They are specifically working on this issue by calling out congress folk that have been the beneficiary's of health care business money and are opposing the "public option." For example Nelson and Landrieu.
posted by bigmusic at 7:49 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Adjunct question: Is it better for haltingproblemsolved to donate to what he describes, or is it better to donate to an organization that is pressuring the government to set up universal healthcare? Because, really, the solution is not for the underinsured to have to rely on charity, but for the US government to implement a modern, civilized healthcare system.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here is the donation link for the Landrieu campaign.
posted by bigmusic at 7:53 PM on July 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Shriners Hospitals for Children only provide treatment to those under 21 with treatable conditions but they provide all care at no charge.
posted by Lolie at 7:56 PM on July 12, 2009


I've thought about fff's question, and I'm personally looking to fund medical care rather than change policy. Even if we do eventually get a first-world health care system in the United States, it's still not going to reach everyone right away.
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 7:57 PM on July 12, 2009


Where do you live? I bet there's a low-overhead, local organization providing free or heavily subsidized healthcare right in your neighborhood. $1000 could go pretty far there.

I'd suggest you call a nearby homeless shelter or, failing that, hospital.
posted by meta_eli at 8:01 PM on July 12, 2009


Lolie: "4The Shriners Hospitals for Children only provide treatment to those under 21 with treatable conditions but they provide all care at no charge."


Seconding this one. My grandfather left a large amount of his estate to this organization when he passed away. He also drove children from hospitals in Oklahoma to their Shriner hospital in Shreveport. There are a bunch of people that donate their time to this organization helping families with little things. He wholeheartedly endorsed their mission and strongly felt that this is where more money or time should be placed by folks who wished to help.
posted by Gravitus at 8:13 PM on July 12, 2009


Given the sad state of the economy, maybe there's a need you can fill that's a little closer to home? $1000 a year in the form of a prepaid health care card to an uninsured relative would make a big difference to someone you love.

Don't get me wrong: I've worked as a development consultant in the nonprofit world, so I know that side of the game all too well. It's just that in terms of making a concrete difference, I'd rather make sure my mom gets her yearly mammogram, my brother gets new glasses and my nephew gets his booster shots. YMMV, but I think it's worth considering.
posted by aquafortis at 8:17 PM on July 12, 2009


I'd go with the local free clinic, regardless of its distance from you. If you believe that you (as a taxpayer) have an obligation to help provide health care for all Americans, not just those in your local area, you should pick an on-the-ground clinic doing the work that matters to you. Pick one in the poorest or hardest-hit by health care costs are you can find. That may be Appalachia, or rural Mississippi, or inner city LA.

Alternatively, you may want to consider microlending. You can loan money to families struggling to pay health care bills, and give them generous repayment and interest terms, and then when they do pay you back, you can reinvest the money in helping more people. A temporary influx of cash can give people the leverage to significantly bargain down their bills, which is a huge help, and you'd be able to help people many times over with the money.
posted by decathecting at 8:28 PM on July 12, 2009


Seconding aquafortis. Figure out if a sibling, parent, grandparent, some other extended family member is uninsured and help them out first.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 8:32 PM on July 12, 2009


Planned Parenthood. Knocks out all sorts of social problems at once!
posted by mmdei at 8:41 PM on July 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


The people at Planned Parenthood (and other reproductive-health orgs) do some important work.
posted by box at 8:42 PM on July 12, 2009


A lot of the federal stuff is advocacy. Most of the actual help takes place state by state, due to the structure of Medicaid and so forth. In your state, there's teh Maryland Health Care for All Coalition, which engages in Medicaid expansion advocacy. Groups that offer services include the Consumer Health Foundation, which issues more than $1 million annually in grants to DC area health servicers.

As a Marylander, of course, the go-to urban decay center is Baltimore, and the Baltimore Community Foundation seems to have a number of health care niches covered. Ask about the Suzanne Cohen Fund for Populations at Risk.

Nationally, there's the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is pretty prominent, but they're engaged in research rather than services.
posted by dhartung at 9:13 PM on July 12, 2009


Spending money on the political process, particularly those applying pressure to "centrist" democratic senators to include a public option would be far, far more effective in helping to get people health care then paying for it directly. $1000 is basically 3 or 4 weeks of insurance premiums for a family these days. I think the Change Congress suggestion is good. Blue America is a smaller outfit pressuring "centrist" dems as well. After the healthcare bill passes (or doesn't) it might make more sense to look around for ways to help individuals.
posted by delmoi at 2:23 AM on July 13, 2009


I realize I may be starting to sound like a broken record, but cancer care can bankrupt families. I have $100,000 of medical bills for my daughter, who died of brain cancer at 9 months old after 6 months of treatment, and that is AFTER my insurance company made their contribution. However, I am not responsible for that balance, because my daughter was treated at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital.

Not only does St. Jude never, ever charge a family for any of the medical care provided to their child, they also provide FREE housing during the time you are there, whether it's a couple days, a week, 3 months or a year. They also pay for your transportation to get there, if you need it. You don't pay for a telephone, or for electric bills, while you are there. They help you with your cleaning. They give you $100 per week for groceries. They provide school for the patient, and often for the patient's siblings if need be, while you are there. For many families, they could not treat their child's cancer (and therefore could not give their child a chance at surviving) without St. Jude.

I realize you may be looking to donate to something more banal (and I don't mean banal in a bad way), that will affect a lot of people a little bit. But, if you donate to St. Jude you can be sure you are allowing more children to be treated for potentially terminal illnesses without regard to those childrens' parents' ability to afford it, AND you are contributing to the research for a cure of childhood diseases.
posted by bunnycup at 6:04 AM on July 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


I second St. Jude. They do a lot of good work for many sick children.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:09 AM on July 13, 2009


I heard just this weekend that Shriner's Hospital is considering billing insurance companies if available, they seem to be in some financial difficulty. Not that that makes a difference to the family, But I thought it was worth mentioning.
posted by HuronBob at 6:37 AM on July 13, 2009


If I had that kind of money to donate, I'd donate to Shriners, St. Judes or Ronald McDonald house. (Or if there was a free clinic nearby that does good work.)

Or, if you wanted to game-theory it, donating to an organization that's working toward a fair universal health care solution might have the greatest long term effect.
posted by gjc at 6:50 AM on July 13, 2009


St .Jude's Children's Hospital would be another good choice. They never turn any family way due to inability to pay, so they rely heavily on donations to cover costs for very expensive and often longterm treatments.
posted by zizzle at 8:11 AM on July 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll throw my hat in for Planned Parenthood as well. They do a lot of free/low cost medical services for people in their communities. For example, I was able to have a mammogram this year because of a PP/Susan Komen grant.

As well, local free clinics are often the only place that low income folks can get things like immunizations and vaccines for their kids.

For children; the Shriners and St. Jude's do amazing work. There aren't any equivalent adult programs that I've found.
posted by dejah420 at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2009


Planned parenthood. There are a lot more options for kids to get free care or government funded insurance. Adults without it are usually just screwed. (not to mention how many people HAVE insurance and still have to fight since reproductive care isn't fully covered)

or, you know, send it to me so I don't have to cancel my insurance to pay for college... ;) (kidding!)
posted by Kellydamnit at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2009


Chase Brexton in Baltimore provides care for a lot of people that other agencies won't serve - IV drug addicts, poor people with HIV, the transgendered, etc. I don't know what their percentages are, but I go there, and they try to treat the entire person - dental, medical, emotional, even legal services.
posted by QIbHom at 11:07 AM on July 13, 2009


I donated the money to Planned Parenthood. Thanks to all who responded!
posted by haltingproblemsolved at 9:47 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


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