Friday, October 1, 2010

Health Care do's and don'ts

There has been so much misinformation about the new health care bill that I think we can lose sight of what the bill actually does and perhaps as importantly, what it does not do.  Here is a quick list of what we're getting:

What the bill DOES do:

  • Protects us from being dropped by our health insurance companies when we get sick for “pre-existing conditions”.
  • Prevents insurance companies from refusing coverage to children with pre-existing conditions (the same for adults will go into effect in 2014).
  • Allows parents to cover their dependent children up to the age of 27.
  • Gives tax breaks to small businesses as an incentive to buy health insurance for their employees.
  • Sets up giant pools of uninsured people so that they may collectively bargain for cheaper health care plans (starting in 2014). These pools for “high risk” people with pre-existing conditions exist already.
  • Provides assistance for people or families that can not afford health care on their own.
  • Bans co-pays for preventative care and checkups on new plans. (This will apply to all plans by 2018).
  • Seniors on Medicare will get money back for prescription drug purchases.
  • Health care companies must be more transparent in reporting costs, and they must provide appeals processes for coverage and claims decisions to their consumers.

These sound like good things to me.

Now, these are the things that the bill DOESN'T do, but you've probably heard people say it does:

  • Now I will have to be put on a long waiting list if I need a life-saving medical procedure, just like in England. Wrong. In England’s single-payer system, both health care AND hospitals/medical services are publicly funded, run by the National Health Service (NHS), and free to all permanent residents. Some private sector health insurers and hospitals do exist, but the vast majority are government run. In the U.S., health care providers and hospitals are mostly run by the private sector. The U.S. DOES NOT have anything remotely close to the single-payer system of England. Furthermore, while England’s version of a single-payer system seems to be flawed, other single-payer systems are extremely effective in reducing costs and providing MUCH BETTER care than we receive in the U.S., while also covering EVERYONE. (Check out the health care systems of Germany and Taiwan, for example.)
  • The Health Care Bill will add to the federal deficit. Also Wrong. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Commission on Taxation (JCT) estimate that the health care bill will reduce the federal budget by $143 billion by 2019, and by $1.2 trillion in the following ten years. Furthermore, they estimate that 32 million uninsured people will be covered by 2019 as a result of the bill.
  • Our tax money will now pay for abortions. Wrong again. The health care bill has specific language that prevents a publicly funded health care plan from paying for abortions. Even before the bill was passed, however, there were already laws on the books that prevented publicly funded health care plans from paying for abortions. (Example: Hyde Amendment). 
  • Our tax money will pay for health care for illegal immigrants. Nope. Illegal immigrants are specifically banned from buying into the health care plans offered in the exchanges, and will not receive assistance to buy plans if they can’t afford it.  Ironically, we'd save a lot of money if it did pay for illegal immigrants.  The reality is that we're paying already. Anyone can go into an emergency room for care, including illegals.  This is where they get their medical care.  It is far more expensive to pay this way that it would be to allow them into a health care exchange.
  • Seniors can now be euthanized. Incredibly wrong! The “end-of-life counseling” provision didn’t even make it into the final bill BECAUSE of the fears spread. The provision would have provided seniors on Medicare OPTIONAL counseling to discuss options available to them in their final stages of life. This included information on drafting living wills and hospice care. 
Now, I know that this post will get a discussion go, so let me warn everyone now: CRAZY responses will be deleted.  Feel free to disagree, but please do so factually.

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