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