Responses to questions on health care reform

First, thanks for all the feedback on my prior blog with powerpoint on health care reform. Below I’ve tried to address some of the remaining issues that have arisen.  I am more committed than ever to REAL reform and this this ongoing conversation is critical to that end. Our health care system is broken. Worse yet, it is destroying businesses and individuals. It must be fixed now! I’m not convinced we yet have THE answer. I am convinced ongoing dialogue is critical to getting us there. Special thanks for my friend Chris Purk for constantly challenging me. Much of the response below was culled from an ongoing conversation we are having on facebook! Please join in! A great source for discussion on the health care needs of our nation, check out the nonpartisan National Coalition on Health Care at: http://nchc.org.

 

Premise #1:

If this health care bill isn’t the answer, our representative MUST craft one that IS! The power of special interests and lobbyists in the realm of health care reform have stopped the process of real reform for decades. We have been trying to take small steps for a very long time. PPOs, HMOs, managed care have all been stop gap efforts to control costs and increase the quality of care. They haven’t done so.

Premise #2:

There is simply no incentive for insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, or health care providers to lower rates. It’s in their best interests to keep the run away price increases going. Bottom line: They make more money this way!

Premise #3:

Any cost estimates on either side: that health care reform won’t cost a thing OR that it will cost trillions are flawed. NO ONE can anticipate the contingencies that will ACTUALLY lower costs. The capitalist model says if you increase competition, costs will drop. That’s what a public option would do.

Premise #4:

This issue is NOT just about the un and underinsured. Health care costs are hurting EVERYONE!  We are already paying for the un and underinsured. They go to emergency rooms sicker and take longer to regain health (if they do at all) than those with insurance. They are less likely to get standard preventative care than those with insurance. They pay all they can and we (taxpayers) shoulder the rest. Insurance and preventative care are BETTER options than emergency room visits. Emergency rooms visits, the most expensive health care in the country, should not be the first line of health care for anyone.

BUT, the current health care system is NOT hurting only the un or underinsured. It’s hurting everyone – BUSINESSES that can’t afford to pay premiums are cutting benefits to employees and many are cutting insurance benefits all together or anticipate significantly reducing them in the near future. Business leaders are arguing that the single biggest factor in reduced R&D and their inability to expand the workforce are health benefits. We can’t get jobs for people if employers can’t afford to hire them.

EMPLOYEES are paying higher health care premiums and finding themselves with less coverage. People can’t afford to change jobs due to the fact that they may not be able to get insurance coverage, especially if someone in the family has a chronic or preexisting condition. People are losing their homes to cover medical costs; a large percentage of both personal bankruptcies and home foreclosures are linked to health care costs. And all this for a health care system that is ranked 37th in the world!

My personal “out-of-pocket” costs for health insurance doubled for next year, my co-pays on everything increased at least 20% and more medications are not covered at all. Fortunately except for my daughter’s issues with migraines, we don’t need any medications on an ongoing basis. As you know my daughter has been having problems with migraines. My COPAY for 10 migraine tablets (which she could use up in 5 days) was $90 last week. This is nothing compared to the costs of medications many pay for chronic conditions. On a related note, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but the very same drugs that cost so much here cost much less in other parts of the world. We subsidize American pharmaceutical companies to sell drugs overseas by paying more for medications here at home. We attach taxes on international pharmaceuticals so they don’t compete with American makers here in the U.S. hurting the American taxpayer all the way around for the benefit of big business.

I’m LOVING the content ideas many of you have discussed. A number of them are part of the current discussion including not being able to drop people who get sick or refuse to insure them when they have preexisting conditions. None of them, at this point, will reduce costs by increasing competition.  The system is broken! We need to fix it now before it permanently sinks our entire economy! Those we elected to represent us need to get the job done. It’s time!

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