Healthcare Reform By Kim LeFave Healthcare is one of the hottest political topics in the news. It affects every man, woman, and child. I’m sure most if not all of you have caught something on this topic. As I researched this topic on the internet I was surprised to learn some of the statistics on healthcare in America. Even though our nation is faced with recession and more than 8% of Americans are unemployed I still assumed the rest of the 92% of working Americans had some kind of healthcare insurance. I was alarmed to learn that 15% of Americans have no coverage.
This is roughly 47 million Americans. To me it is obvious that healthcare reform is necessary. We are still one of the richest countries in the world. Why are so many without any healthcare insurance? Those of you who work full-time, how many of you pay a certain amount out of your weekly check for healthcare insurance? It seems to go up higher than the cost of living each year. Do you have adequate coverage? Most Americans are not happy with the out of pocket expenses they have to pay in addition to paying high premiums. Do you have a co-pay every time you see a doctor?
Do you have to pay a portion for drug coverage? These costs can add up. When was the last time you saw a doctor? Do you avoid doctors unless you are absolutely sick? The reason I am bombarding you with these questions is to get you to think about what healthcare reform might mean to you. What is it you want out of your healthcare insurance provider? Most of us might say lower out of pocket expenses, like low or no co-payments for doctor’s visits, or low or no co-payments for needed drugs, or even no money taken out of our paychecks to pay for that health insurance.
Wouldn’t that be nice? Do you realize that most developed countries have universal healthcare systems, which means whether or not you are employed you are covered for your healthcare needs. After watching a PBS program about universal healthcare in other countries I was very surprised that our country was not trying to do some of the same things that these other countries were doing. Take for instance Japan, under their universal health care system MRI’s are about two hundred and fifty dollars, and in America it is about two thousand dollars.
No doctor in Japan is getting rich quick, but people are able to afford healthcare more easily. It is much of the same in other countries that have universal healthcare systems. Okay let’s get back to what is now going on in this country. Basically the Healthcare Reform Bill under President Obama’s administration is a very small step in actual healthcare reform compared to what other countries have done. I’m sure most of you have heard that under the new reform bill insurance companies cannot deny coverage if you have a preexisting condition.
Also it limits sky high premiums because of gender and age. It will also prevent insurance companies from dropping coverage when people are sick and need it the most. It will eliminate extra charges for preventative care like mammograms, flu shots, and diabetes tests to improve health and save money. It is supposed to protect medicare for seniors by extending new protections for medicare beneficiaries. It will also eliminate the “donut-hole” gap in coverage for prescription drugs. If you don’t have insurance this new reform bill will create a new insurance marketplace called the Exchange.
This will allow people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices. It will also provide new tax credits to help people to buy insurance. It will give tax credits to small businesses and give affordable options for covering employees. It will offer a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can’t find affordable coverage with a real choice. It will offer new, low-cost coverage through a national “high risk” pool to protect people with preexisting conditions from financial ruin until the new Exchange is created.
Hopefully this can all be achieved as proposed. It is not supposed to add to the national deficit and is paid upfront from the immediate savings from the initial healthcare reform. If savings are not realized essentially cuts will be required by the President to ensure that the plan does not add to the deficit. In addition these reforms will begin to rein in health care costs and align incentives for hospitals, physicians, and others to improve quality. It will create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to identify waste, fraud and abuse in the health care system.
It will order immediate medical malpractice reform projects that could help doctors focus on putting their patients first, instead of practicing on defensive medicine. To do this the Secretary of Health and Human Services is instructed by the President to award medical malpractice demonstration grants to states funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Also large employers with more than fifty employees who can afford to buy insurance so everyone of their employees share in the responsibility of reform will be required.
Their will be a “hardship exemption” for those who cannot afford the premiums. Okay so there it is the basics of the new Healthcare Reform Bill proposed by President Obama and his administration. To me this is just a minute scratching of the surface for healthcare reform in this country. I suppose you have to start somewhere. Not every American will be happy with the proposed changes. To me it should be done more on a trial basis, but let’s get real try it before you buy it in this country is virtually unheard of especially when it come to healthcare.
I’m sure we will learn as we go and that it will be an honest effort to avoid high cost health insurance. What bothers me the most is that many things that make the healthcare too costly are not being addressed. What about the cost of a doctor’s visit, or the cost of a procedure, or the cost of your drugs? Will it go down? This reform bill hardly explains if this will happen. I think because of the newly created Exchange, healthcare insurance may go down a bit, but only time will tell if by the year 2013 when the exchange is fully active if it will affect the cost of the quality of healthcare as a whole.
I read a blog online that made me question what is in the future for Americans when it comes to healthcare. How are people who can’t afford healthcare now supposed to afford healthcare when this new reform bill goes through? The blog questioned the validity of our government taking over another area where they have continuously failed in other areas. The point was that the Medicare / Medicaid system is already nearing bankruptcy as well as the U. S. Postal Service. It questioned how all this was going to be paid for by suggesting that the only real way to get the money is more taxes.
Does that offer Americans a choice or is this being forced on us? These are very important points and even tougher questions that any American would be concerned about. Another blog for the healthcare reform bill suggests that there are many areas that the government has handled well, for instance; fire departments, police departments, waste water management, military, and coastguard. Although most of us think of some of these on a local level they are all federally funded. The strongest point was that this healthcare reform bill will reduce administrative costs from 20-30% to 2-3%.
This would also reduce the profit that big time insurance companies and their biggest investors would make. My sister-in-law had that laser surgery on her eyes. When she researched cost she found that she could go to Canada and pay far less for the same procedure. She paid about three thousand dollars compared to the hefty price tag of seven thousand dollars here in the States. Many people have gone to Canada to receive cheaper procedures and cheaper drug prices. To me this is the real issue in this country. Yes, the insurance is expensive, but if you think about it procedures are even more expensive.
If the cost of procedures and drugs go down along with the cost of insurance then this would make more sense to me. I think it will be at least another 5-10 years before we see this happen in this country. I think this bill will force some insurance companies to either go bankrupt or lose a tremendous amount of money. How will they compete with the less expensive insurances? Will it be just what happened to our banks? I see lots of merging insurance companies in our future. I hate to be clique but I think only time will tell how this will work out for all our citizens, our government and our insurance companies.
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