Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ten Things, Times Two

While we are seeing increases in personal bankruptcy filings, with more than half due to medical costs, and thousands of people daily losing medical coverage, the insurance companies continue to raise their rates, because the medical industry needs to able to lobby against health care reform and still hold onto their huge profits because that is more important to them than actually helping patients.

The Republican 10 Point Plan for Health Care:
In a nutshell, the GOP is proposing to extend the status quo for a nation gripped by a collapsing health care system.
  1. 50 Million Uninsured in America
  2. Another 25 Million Underinsured
  3. Employer-Based Coverage Plummets Below 60%
  4. Employer Health Costs to Jump by 9% in 2010
  5. One in Five Americans Forced to Postpone Care
  6. 62% of U.S. Bankruptcies Involve Medical Bills
  7. Current Health Care Costs Already Fueling Job Losses
  8. 94% of Health Insurance Markets in U.S Now "Highly Concentrated"
  9. Dramatic Decline in Emergency Room Capacity
  10. Perpetuating Red State Health Care Failure

    On the other hand, here are

    10 Awesome Things That Would Happen If Health Reform Passes:
    1. The First Thing That Will Happen Is Absolutely Nothing

      At least that's the case for a lot of people who now have quality health insurance.

      If you have a decent health plan through your job, nothing will change for you in terms of your insurance.

    2. New Protections for Consumers
      Regardless of your place of employment or the kind of coverage you have now, new regulations would take effect in 2010 that would go a long way toward curtailing the insurance companies' worst abuses

    3. Medical Bankruptcies Would Plummet
      One of the most significant of these regulations is in the House bill: a cap on out-of-pocket expenses. If the measure passes, individuals would face a maximum of $5,000 in out-of-pocket expenses a year, and families no more than $10,000. For poorer families, the limits would be much lower: $500 per year, for example, for a family making less than 1.33 times the poverty rate.

    4. People Who Could Never Get Decent Coverage Will Finally Be Able To
      The reality is that small-business people, their employees, independent contractors, freelancers, entrepreneurs, part-timers and the "marginally employed" would be the biggest winners from the legislation if it passed as currently drafted. Small business owners and their employees -- as well as those other groups -- would, for the first time, be able to get decent coverage at a fair price, and if eligible, both employer and worker would be able to get extra help paying for it.

    5. (Almost) Everyone Gets Covered
      That brings us to another "controversial" -- but ultimately commonsense -- piece of the puzzle, the "individual mandate." It means that (almost) everyone would either have to buy health insurance or pay a modest penalty that would contribute to the system. In the House bill, the penalty would max out at 2.5 percent of income.

    6. Those Who Can't Afford the Premiums Will Get Help Paying

      Ultimately, even if the public exchanges were to succeed in bringing the price of health insurance back to earth, a lot of people would still be priced out of the market.

      All of the Democratic plans come with subsidies to help those at the lower end of the economic ladder get access to decent health care. The most generous are in the House bill, and how extensive the subsidies will be in the final legislation will be a point of heated debate.

    7. No Free Lunch for Businesses
      Currently, large employers that rely on low-skilled workforces usually offer little or no health coverage, and much of these workers' health care is already subsidized by taxpayers in the form of Medicaid and Medicare payments, other public programs and unpaid bills for emergency-room visits. Under the proposals in Congress, medium and large firms would face a simple choice: Offer their employees decent coverage or pay something into the system to offset the burden their employees' health needs impose on the American taxpayer.

    8. More Low-Income Workers Eligible for Medicaid
      All of the plans being considered by Congress make more of the working poor eligible for Medicaid by lifting the income limits on eligibility.

    9. Some Things Will Change, but You'll Never Notice
      The right's fearmongering is only effective because the health care debate is often so complex. Opponents of reform paint dark conspiracies about some of the more-obscure provisions in the reform package (a good example being the gross mischaracterization of a rather innocuous provision that makes counseling on living wills and other end-of-life decisions available to ill seniors as a "government death panel").

    10. Over Time, the System Will Become Healthier
      Everything depends on what the final legislation entails. But if it were done right, those systemic changes -- greater competition, tighter regulation, technological improvements, a greater emphasis on prevention, the buying power and efficiency of less-fragmented insurance pools and an end to treating the uninsured in emergency rooms -- would gradually "bend the cost curve" of health coverage and offer insurance to tens of millions of people who today struggle with the health problems and stressful economic insecurity of living without insurance.

    "Let's get this done."


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