I think the title of this post should be my mantra for the day.
On Facebook, people were posting:
"So&So believes no one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day. Demand universal health care."
I had to practically hold myself back from reaching through the Internet and throttling these normally very smart people. I also had to bite my tongue from commencing the flaming that would inevitably ensue if I started bantering with them. There are some people you just can't argue with. So, I would rather not start.
So, I made this my status post for the day:
"I'm not a bleeding heart. No one should die because they cannot afford healthcare (and they typically don't in our great country which will provide that care for free) and no one should go broke because they get sick (and most won't). If you agree that the government should keep their hands out of our pockets and allow free choice for healthcare, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.
Of course, being a journalist, about 75 percent of my friends are liberals. So, I got called out. I knew it would happen. And, I loved how my friend blamed it on Bush. Hello, he hasn't been in office for eight months now. But, he's been a great scapegoat for the past eight years, so lets go with with works for us.
But, the thing is, I think I know better than they do. And, before anyone starts ranting and raving at me about how I must be healthy and not understand. No, you'd be wrong. My husband teases me because I have a surgical procedure at least once a year. I'm not in great shape. I also have a special needs child with a chronic health condition demanding expensive tests and care. When my husband was unemployed last year, we paid about $700 a month for Cobra to protect our insurance portability. And, ask me how much I whined about that? Very very little. Healthcare in the U.S. may be imperfect, but I think it is a pretty good system.
Listening to my father-in-law, who worked in Canada a year or two ago, only reinforced my beliefs that government-provided healthcare is a crock. FIL needed a chest x-ray before taking his next job. Because he is in relative good health, he was going to have to wait 3-6 months to get an x-ray in Canada. However, he could fly home to Florida or to his parents' place in Minnesota and have it done that day if he wanted. There are horror stories all over the place about people dying in the UK because the government wouldn't approve their treatment plans for one reason or another.
So, rather than drone on and on, I thought I'd reprint an op-ed piece I wrote for a newsletter about six weeks ago. Yes, someone paid me to write this.
On the surface, comprehensive health reform sounds like a fabulous idea. Why wouldn’t Americans want everyone to have guaranteed health care coverage? However, insurance for everyone comes with a price tag that isn’t only about the approximately $1 trillion (yes, with a TR) that it will cost to implement over the next 10 years.
All of the bills under active consideration contain requirements that people obtain health insurance coverage, which is also known as an individual mandate. According to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s health reform bill, by 2013, all individuals would be required to have health insurance coverage and those not complying will be assessed a tax up to the cost of the minimum benefit plan.
In addition to the individual mandate, other proposals include requirements for employers of more than 25 people to provide employees with qualified health insurance coverage.
Employers that already provide health benefits to their employees may not think that these potential new requirements would impact them, or may even level the playing field between their company and those that do not currently offer coverage.
However, at least one bill being considered both requires employers with more than 25 employees to provide coverage and also requires employers to pay 72.5 percent of each employee’s premiums for “acceptable” coverage and 65 percent of the cost of those employees’ family coverage premiums. What exactly is deemed “acceptable” is up for discussion, too.
Additionally, the bill mandates coverage for part-time employees and requires employers to pay for a portion of the costs on a pro-rata basis. Many employers now can’t afford such contributions to their employees’ health plan costs. Employers that fail to comply would incur a penalty of eight percent of the company’s payroll, along with the potential for additional payments and penalties down the road.
“Employers currently provide health insurance benefits voluntarily to more than 160 million Americans … this bill includes a sweeping new mandate, which would force employers to provide health insurance or pay a new civil fine,” according to a letter penned by U.S. Chamber of Commerce officials to Congress.
The civil fine mentioned is $750 annually for each full-time employee and $375 for part-time employees, according to a July 7 Wall Street Journal article. At least one health insurance company called that fine a “pay or play” penalty for employers who decline to offer health insurance to their workers.
In President Obama’s address to the American Medical Association on June 15, he said “we need to create incentives for physicians to team up … we need to give doctors bonuses for good health outcomes – so that we are not promoting just more treatment, but better care. One thing we need to do is figure out what works, and encourage rapid implementation of what works into your practices. That's why we are making a major investment in research to identify the best treatments for a variety of ailments and conditions. Let me be clear: identifying what works is not about dictating what kind of care should be provided. It's about providing patients and doctors with the information they need to make the best medical decisions. Replicating best practices. Incentivizing excellence. Closing cost disparities.”
Sounds a lot like managed care, which private insurance companies already have in practice. But, the Wall Street Journal went one step further calling it “rationed care.”
“In remarks to the American Medical Association last month, President Obama waxed enthusiastic about countries that 'spend less' than the US on healthcare. The Journal explored the United Kingdom's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, which has become in practice....a rationing board. As health costs have exploded in Britain as in most developed countries, NICE has become the heavy that reduces spending by limiting the treatments that 61 million citizens are allowed to receive through the" National Health Service. Obama and Democrats claim they can expand subsidies for tens of millions of Americans, while saving money and improving the quality of care. It can't possibly be done. The inevitable result of their plan will be some version of a NICE board that will tell millions of Americans that they are too young, or too old, or too sick to be worth paying to care for,” according to a July 7 editorial in The Wall Street Journal.
The HELP Committee’s bill also proposes the establishment of a National Health Insurance Exchange by 2013 to replace the current individual health insurance market. States would be allowed to apply to the federal government to establish state or regional exchanges and establish health plan standards, facilitate the provision of comparative information, enrollment, billing, and other administrative functions, administer coverage subsidies, and respond to consumer grievances. Also, by 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services would develop and offer a public plan through the exchange to compete with private insurers. The public plan would comply with the same requirements as private health plans participating in the exchange, but provider payments from the public plan would be similar to Medicare rates and providers participating in Medicare would be required to participate in the public plan for five years. The federal government would provide start up funding for the public plan, but it must become self-sustaining after initial start up.
However, a government-run public plan would not be subject to the same rules for financial solvency and would not be required to pay taxes as private health insurance companies are required to do. Because these plans would operate with advantages not available to private plans, the unlevel playing field could eventually force everyone to be covered under the government plan, which could lead to everyone covered by a government plan resulting in waiting lines and rationing such as in Canada and Great Britain , according to the National Association of Health Underwriters.
So, what I'm asking is this ... read up on the Universal Healthcare Reform information, don't just jump on the bandwagon because you want free healthcare. Like I tell a lot of people, be careful what you ask for. Do you really want Big Brother telling you what is the best treatment for your child's leukemia or even your child's ear infection? Not me. I prefer to consult with my physician on that one.