Saturday, July 11, 2009

Healthcare Reform

You probably noticed the new widget at the top of my blog. Normally this is not a political blog, but I take healthcare reform seriously, and it's not just because my husband and I, who are self-employed, pay over $1200 per month, not including the "miniscule" $165 we pay for our daughter who works three jobs, none of which provides benefits. We made our choices knowing what we were getting into, and while it is a stretch and the costs did triple since we started out 11 years ago, we can still manage.

I support healthcare reform because of the 48 million people who have no healthcare at all and in most cases didn't have a choice. I support healthcare reform because of the unknown number who are under-insured and end up paying for insurance they can't use because of huge deductibles. I support healthcare reform because, frankly, I can't see how anyone with an ounce of humanity wouldn't.

The biggest obstacle to the healthcare reform we need and deserve in this country is––and I can't think of any nicer way to put this––the lies we are being fed by our politicians on both sides of the aisle. I worked in the fields of medical insurance and employee benefits for many years, and I know a little about this. So let's debunk some of those lies right now.

The US has the greatest healthcare in world so why mess with it?
The US has an infant mortality rate higher than any other industrialized nation. We also rank 27th in life expectancy. Those that outrank us have some form of universal healthcare.

Competition is better
This one's a no-brainer. We have competition now. It ain't working. Large corporations are not human beings. They have no conscience and they serve no one but their shareholders. Cutting expenses to increase profits might work well in manufacturing. In heathcare it means turning sick and dying people away or providing shoddy care.

The American people want choice
Right now if you are fortunate enough to have employer-paid coverage, you have no choice but to take it, whether it's an old fashioned indemnity plan or an HMO. If you don't have employer-paid insurance your choice is between an expensive plan that covers next to nothing, an extremely expensive plan that covers more but will find an excuse to terminate your coverage once you actually get sick, or nothing at all.

We can fix it with tax credits
This is the Republican plan that proposes minor reforms to the current system and an annual tax credit of $2300 per individual/$5700 per family to pay for healthcare benefits. If you read my first paragraph you know how ludicrous those amounts are. However, mark my words, companies currently struggling to provide healthcare benefits for employees will use that credit as an excuse to drop healthcare all together or require individuals to pay that much toward employer plans.

Managed care is the problem
No, it is not. The problem is care managed by for-profit companies. Make no mistake about it, the mess we are in now began back in the 70s and 80s (and I was there) when doctors started overcharging insurance companies that provided health insurance to employers as an inexpensive add-on to more lucrative life insurance policies. Oversight should be by professionals with no profit motive, but without oversight costs will go even further out of sight.

All we need is a public option in addition to private insurers
This is what the Dems say because most of them are just as beholden to the private insurance companies as the Republicans only they got into office promising to do something for the 48 million uninsured. They've got it wrong too. A public option will provide immediate relief for many of the current uninsured. Over the long-term it is a recipe for failure. Without a way to contain costs, a public option will become untenable in very short order. In fact, I'm surprised Republicans aren't behind this as it will eventually lead to an "I told you so" moment that drives them into the majority once again.

I know what you're thinking. She's listed all the things that don't work, so how about telling us what will. What will work, and the only thing that will work, is a single-payer (government-paid) coverage for everyone––like Medicare––but we also need a healthcare system. Yes it would be––gasp––socialized medicine. We have two problems in healthcare today: lack of coverage and costs increasing at twice the rate of inflation. A public option competing with private ones solves the former, but without the latter it will fail, and there is no way to control the latter without a government regulated system. The details of that can get pretty boring unless you are truly interested, let's just say if you are interested in my thoughts, feel free to contact me




4 comments:

Embee said...

Amen. My family has been without health insurance for almost 10 years. Every day I wake up and cross my fingers we don't have a medical emergency because we'd end up in bankruptcy. We don't make enough money to afford health insurance, but we make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. Now I read that the grand government plan is to "require" people to buy health insurance. How the heck does that solve anything? The would help pay for it for poor folks, but what if you don't qualify and still can't afford it? They'll penalize you. Wow, that's an awesome solution. Wish I'd thought of it. I agree with you, socialized medicine is the only way to go. All your arguments are very valid, especially the statistics about infant mortality, quality and cost of health care, etc. But people in this country freak out and the slightest hint of it, so I'm sure there will be lots of chest thumping, soap-boxing, feather ruffling, and then nothing will happen. In the meantime, I can't even afford to go to the doctor for an ear infection, much less if my husband or I has a heart attack, or needs treatment for cancer, or anything serious. It's ridiculous how little the bureaucracy cares about those of us whom the are supposed to serve. Makes me ill. Anyway, that's just my rant.

Nannette Croce said...

Embee,

Thanks so much for your comment. People who have healthcare often don't realize what it's like until they hear from real people like you. I recently spoke to a single mom who had to quit her job so she would qualify for Medicaid to pay for her daughter's mental health treatment. She had coverage through her employer but it wouldn't cover the facility she needed. Her ex's insurance would have covered it, but he had a small business and risked having his insurance dropped if costs went too high. Don't sweat too much over not having coverage, because should you have a catastrophic illness they will look for the slightest cause to deny coverage anyway. I couldn't figure how they did this until I filled out an app for my daughter. They ask you to list every illness for which you sought treatment––including things like sinus infections and allergies––and the date you were treated. Who keeps that stuff? But you have to practically swear in blood that it's all true so if you get really sick they can say you lied on your application.

jacksmith said...

AMERICA’S NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY!

It’s official. America and the World are now in a GLOBAL PANDEMIC. A World EPIDEMIC with potential catastrophic consequences for ALL of the American people. The first PANDEMIC in 41 years. And WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES will have to face this PANDEMIC with the 37th worst quality of healthcare in the developed World.

STAND READY AMERICA TO SEIZE CONTROL OF YOUR NATIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM.

We spend over twice as much of our GDP on healthcare as any other country in the World. And Individual American spend about ten times as much out of pocket on healthcare as any other people in the World. All because of GREED! And the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT healthcare system in America.

And while all this is going on, some members of congress seem mostly concern about how to protect the corporate PROFITS! of our GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT NATIONAL DISGRACE. A PRIVATE FOR PROFIT DISGRACE that is in fact, totally valueless to the public health. And a detriment to national security, public safety, and the public health.

Progressive democrats the Tri-Caucus and others should stand firm in their demand for a robust government-run public option for all Americans, with all of the minimum requirements progressive democrats demanded. If congress can not pass a robust public option with at least 51 votes and all robust minimum requirements, congress should immediately move to scrap healthcare reform and request that President Obama declare a state of NATIONAL HEALTHCARE EMERGENCY! Seizing and replacing all PRIVATE FOR PROFIT health insurance plans with the immediate implementation of National Healthcare for all Americans under the provisions of HR676 (A Single-payer National Healthcare Plan For All).

Coverage can begin immediately through our current medicare system. With immediate expansion through recruitment of displaced workers from the canceled private sector insurance industry. Funding can also begin immediately by substitution of payroll deductions for private insurance plans with payroll deductions for the national healthcare plan. This is what the vast majority of the American people want. And this is what all objective experts unanimously agree would be the best, and most cost effective for the American people and our economy.

In Mexico on average people who received medical care for A-H1N1 (Swine Flu) with in 3 days survived. People who did not receive medical care until 7 days or more died. This has been the same results in the US. But 50 million Americans don’t even have any healthcare coverage. And at least 200 million of you with insurance could not get in to see your private insurance plans doctors in 2 or 3 days, even if your life depended on it. WHICH IT DOES!

If President Obama has to declare a NATIONAL STATE OF EMERGENCY to rescue the American people from our healthcare crisis, he will need all the sustained support you can give him. STICK WITH HIM! He’s doing a brilliant job.

THIS IS THE BIG ONE!

THE BATTLE OF GOOD Vs EVIL!

Join the fight.

Contact congress and your representatives NOW! AND SPREAD THE WORD!

(http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/publicoption) (http://www.actblue.com/page/healthcareheroes)

God Bless You

Jacksmith – WORKING CLASS

Nannette Croce said...

Jacksmith-

I strongly support the expansion of Medicare for all ages over implementing a new public plan, and I don't know why that option isn't on the table. Currently Medicare covers mostly the aged plus those who qualify due to certain disabilities or severe conditions such as end stage renal failure, so actuarially, Medicare costs (which already benefit from on 3% administrative costs) should go down even further by including younger healthier individuals in the plan.

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