Rush Limbaugh announced that our healthcare system is just fine the way it is. Fantastic.
Unfortunately, there remain those who can't afford the care El Rusho received, or vacation in Hawaii where its healthcare system is considered among the most progressive, or whose health insurance policies have been rescinded before they could receive it, or whose treatments were denied by nameless faceless administrators at health insurance companies.
Fortunately, there remain those who are not threatened by this reality, nor have vested interests in denying it. And they remain committed to making Rush's reality affordable for everyone who makes just a wee bit less than Rush ($28 million, annually?).
Will it change our lives? Yes.
When and how? Details for both questions remain...uncertain.
But, let's use the metaphor of learning to walk. When and how did we learn to walk as a baby? First come...baby-steps, then some toddling with knee scrapes and finally, we’re up and running confidently by around year 4 or 5. There are moments of delight and celebration as well as scraped knees, bonged heads and some tears shed a long the way. Well, it was for me anyway, from what I’ve been told and remember.Baby-steps: Coordination: Left-foot, right-foot...Balance. Repeat.
The current baby-step in healthcare reform is coordinating the terms in both versions, the House and the Senate, of healthcare reform bills. That’s akin to coordinating the right and left legs in walking. (Read no significance into right and left leg other than their positions on the body. )One step: Take our medicines.
Drug-coverage donut gets bigger; donut-hole grows smaller.People on Medicare might well see the "doughnut hole" in drug coverage shrink by $500 this year from what it would otherwise be. Jim Gallagher, St. Louis Dispatch.
Kids are alright.
Both versions of the current healthcare reform bills extend coverage for children to 26 and 27, respectively for House and Senate versions.
Cadillac Plans Tax. The Senate version includes a provision for a 40% (!) tax on so-called Cadillac Plans. These are plans whose costs exceed $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families, for the cost of combining health savings accounts, medical, prescription drugs, dental, vision, etc.. The tax is charged to insurance companies, but it is widely assumed they would passed it on to employers. - Megan McCardle, The AtlanticToddling, soon:
Coverage is guaranteed, even for pre-existing conditions. Those with pre-existing conditions would have to either pay a premium, not to exceed 25% over those without it, and this would be made possible by a federally supported high risk pool.
Unfortunately, this will not be implemented until 2013 or 2014, if approved.Stumbles and Scrapes ahead:
Rising Healthcare Costs and The Cadillac Tax Plan. The majority of Americans with health insurance have this benefit provided through their employer. That means the potential tax on these cadillac plansfirst assessed health insurance companies will then be passed on by the health insurance companies to the employer as part of the costs of their group plan that provides this employee benefit. (My prediction: This tax would be itemized so clearly, prominently, with attached documentation in striking contrast to all other items listed on our health insurance invoices.)
Companies will then have three choices:
1. pass the cost on to their employees,
2. absorb it
3. lower the benefits and costs included in their group insurance plan.
Individuals would face two choices:
1. pay it
2. lower the benefits and costs of their health insurance plan.
There will be a lot of stubbed knees in the future as we see the impact of annual premium increases of 10 - 15%. Oh and these increases are compounded...annually.
So, the minority of Americans facing this tax today...will become the majority of Americans facing either a tax on their health insurance plans or reduced health insurance benefits or both.
If you’re current health insurance premiums increase by oh, say 15%, annually by 2013...will you be subject to that tax? Do the math.
Could you afford the tax along with these higher premiums to maintain the coverage you receive today?
OR, will you reduce your health insurance benefits to avoid both affordable healthcare and this tax and sustain your ability to pay for food, rent, gas in your car to get to work, college for your kids, care for your parents....?
This question, with its unpleasant answers, applies to the cost of healthcare. We are an aging population. We are an unhealthy population. Annual rate increases for our healthcare will continue. Their amounts will increase.
What can we afford? This leads us to our next stumble and scrape:
Rationed Healthcare. We'll ration our healthcare and that of our families, ourselves. Health insurance plan administrators will be right-sized. There will be no need. We will ration our healthcare needs. When the slaves control themselves...life is good and profitable for their master.Public Option. This one makes me laugh. Well, not its intent, but its opponents. Their reactions are one of two or both of the following:
#1 Unfair competition. The health insurance companies would not be able to compete with...the federal government. There’s some reason to agree. Medicare benefits are administered with up to 3-4% administrative costs. While our very efficient, free-enterprise, competitive industry needs 15% or more to administer their plans.
#2. The federal government is inept. They would be unable to respond to the needs of the consumers. Bureaucrats would dither in approving procedures. (That is somehow different than health insurance administrators niggling over costs or coverage in their approval of procedures...) In other words, the feds cannot compete with the competitive marketplace. There’s some reason to agree.
On the other hand, wouldn’t that be a competitive edge FOR the health insurance industry?
#3. Both arguments. I have seen and heard opponents of healthcare reform share both arguments in the same conversation.
What about the uninsured? Of the 45 million uninsured Americans...only 20 million or so will be able to afford health insurance if these reforms end up being approved and enacted...in 3 years.Can we wait? Can we wait another 3-4 years for all of us to enjoy the same healthcare that Rush enjoyed this past week? Should you, or your family, need to wait that long?
Additional links:Baltimore Sun
A Less Than Honest Policy, Bob Herbert, NY Times
* iStockphoto from freehelski