Thursday, March 18, 2010

HCR - scary initials

I believe I have posted here before about health care/insurance reform, but not for a while. I have been talking about it in many other places, most recently responding to annoying comments on Facebook. But there has been something on my mind that I did not feel I could post on FB without fear of being called a turncoat. That something is that I think the Democrat's bill in Congress really sucks. I can see no mechanism for cost controls, private insurance is left in place, yada, yada, yada. But here's the thing, and there's no getting around this (I love saying early West Wing like things): the alternative is not single payer or even Swiss-like regulated private insurance. The alternative is doing nothing, waiting maybe another fifteen years to approach health care/insurance reform again.

I am sure I have talked about the hidden tax, the cost of employer provided health insurance premiums that are passed on to everyone. It's not just union shops that have employer provided health insurance, so do colleges and universities, insurance firms (including Highmark and UPMC, ironic, no?), banks, the government, etc etc etc. Everything costs more because the insurance companies can charge what they want. And if someone can show me a study that proves offering health insurance across state borders works, I will be pleased to read and comment. But from personal experience dealing with a national insurance company (and their customer service department located who knows where) that has a presence in Pennsylvania, remote health insurance companies bring with them unique problems.

Now, I don't think the Democratic plan really does anything for the hidden tax, and that is something we are going to need to deal with soon, but again, the alternative is not passing a phantom Republican plan. Even if Republicans have introduced bills, they are not on anyone's radar, so they might as well not exist.

So I will grit my teeth and continue to defend the Democrat's HCR bill, particularly against false Republican accusations like saying the Public Option will ruin our health care and cause huge waits for procedures (*actually seen on FaceBook). That particular statement is false because the current bill *has* *no* *public* *op-* *tion*.

But I wanted to say I'm not stupid, this bill is only slightly better than nothing. That that is so is a topic for another post.

(It would be OK with me, Barry, if you want to go ahead and call the other members of your party a bunch of self interested, self serving jerks whose only redeeming quality is that they are slightly less self interested and self serving than their Republican counterparts. But that redeeming quality is off set by the Republicans ability to get their message out.)


William Ford said...

I agree with your assessment. For those with employer-sponsored plans, premiums will continue to rise as they have. The group and indivual markets may be hit even harder as the insurance companies cope with eliminating prexisting and lifetime limit caps. The exchanges won't have the power to temper increases. We are turning the whole system over to the companies that have made costs go out of control in the first place. Becaused of delayed implementation, the full negative effects won't be felt for at least six or seven years.

EdHeath said...

Do you agree with all of my assessment? Will premiums rise if the bill is not passed? If the pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps are allowed to stay in place, will that have a negative of the aggregated lives of thousands of individuals?

I think a clear eyed assessment has to look at the effect of doing nothing. If HCR is defeated, or repealed by Republicans later, the chilling effect will leave us without even a semblance of regulation on the market (apart from the state controls), and will embolden the health insurance companies and health care providers (including but not limited to pharmaceuticals) to increase their profits by increasing their charges across the board.

I was talking about this with another person yesterday who has a similar situation to my own, except she pays a lot more to her health insurance company that her employer chose, because she is a single mom with children (she has children, I believe she is a single mom). We agree we are happy with our health insurance as it is, but we also agree we would be sunk without it, and the economy as a whole is paying too much.