Thursday, March 29, 2012

Health Care Reform: Is This Deja Vu?

Three years ago our Congress passed a law that, essentially, laid the foundation that would require every American citizen to purchase a private health care plan. Yes, there were choices, including the option of signing up for the government subsidized plan, and those who couldn't afford any plan at all, would be given (the same) State/Federal Aid (they have now).

In the text of the law, the onus for providing health insurance was placed in the laps of employers (which may result in the unintended consequence of increasing unemployment). As for those with no job, please see above re: government subsidized plans.

I came out against the plan. I read the document (Yes, Justice Scalia, I read the entire document, and as a Supreme Justice, is YOUR job, especially if you intend to pass judgment on the constitutionality of this law), and there were a lot of things in it that made my hackles rise.

The line that was fed to the public was that this law would reform health care by making it more affordable, but that's not what the law would do, at all. The truth is slightly different. From what I read, the only thing it did was require that every American have some sort of health insurance coverage.

**Please read this very carefully**: The law didn't change the cost of the care that would be provided. It would still COST the same to get an MRI as it does now. The difference is that the hospitals and health care providers wouldn't have to deal with uninsured patients, because no one would be uninsured. It also didn't change how doctors treat patients. It didn't change the pharmaceutical companies' financial influence on the health care providers (check out the link to find out which pharmaceutical companies are paying your doctor ... and how much. Then, ask yourself which drugs your doctor has tried to prescribe for you, and who manufactures them).

As I said from the beginning, the Health Care Reform didn't change anything about our current health care practices. It only changed who paid for it.

Perhaps the goal of Congress was to force the health insurance companies to play ball, but in our corporate-centric, money-ruled society, it's not possible to force these guys to do anything they don't want to do, and somewhere in the drafting of this new law, our leaders realized that they are not as in charge as, perhaps, they thought they were.

So, in order to compel insurance companies to agree to change their existing practices (i.e. premium prices for those who are healthier and the pre-existing condition clause that prohibits some people from getting insurance at all), Congress had to promise the insurance companies some sort of quid pro quo. This was it, and the agreement went something like: if you agree to have some sort of policy for everyone, at a reasonable price, we'll agree to make it mandatory for everyone to have a policy.

So, the x million of very healthy Americans who currently don't pay for health insurance (because they don't feel they need it, and even if they had it, wouldn't use it, because they are healthy and don't need to go and see a doctor) would be funneling thousands of dollars into the pockets of the insurance companies so that this other person who is chronically ill would now be eligible to get insurance coverage regardless of her pre-exixting conditions ... and it wouldn't cost the health insurance companies anything, extra.

And guess who is paying for all of this?

Well, you are, if you're healthy ... and employed.

I don't think there will ever be a perfect system, and no law will ever make health care completely equal. Those with money will always be able to afford premium care, and those without money will be stuck with what they can get.

But let me be completely clear: I'm not against health care for everyone. I'm not even against a free-for-all government-run program. I could even be okay with system that was based on a sliding-scale for ability to pay for services. What I'd most like to see is a complete transformation of our system so that pharmaceutical companies are prohibited from giving doctors free samples and back-door payments in exchange for dispensing - often not fully tested, but FDA-approved nonetheless - drugs to their patients, and a system that stresses preventative care in the form of lifestyle changes rather than a concentration on curing diseases after they occur.

What I'm NOT for is a LAW that forces me, as a private citizen, to pay a private company for a service.

The law was passed in 2009, but wouldn't take full effect for a few years. Since its passing several States have determined that it is unconstitutional and are challenging the Federal government's right to impose this sort of broad-sweeping requirement (because it will also affect the States' budgets - and many of them simply do not have the money to spare for this program).

The Supreme Court is, now (took long enough), reviewing the law, and it's back in the news.

Personally, I hope the whole thing is scrapped, and that lawmakers are forced to start again. Maybe, this time, they'll come up with something that can be enforced and is fair to the majority instead of pandering to the monied corporations.

And, maybe, the new law could be very clear and very concise, and about one-tenth its current length, so that the average Joe (and Chief Justice Scalia) could actually read it and know what he's being forced to do.


  1. I agree with you in alot of what you said... The one thing tho there are people who are born with problems..Such as I...I was born with a heart defect.. So I was glad about the pre-existing part of it..And I had breast I said I had breast cancer because I am cancer free for rigt now.. We also have great insurance.. We also pay our fair share in taxes to pay for the ones who don't have insurance...

    We also have kids under 26 that can't afford insurance but because they are under that age they are one ours... That was a relief...

    I never liked the Obama Care... but there are a few things that after getting cancer realized that the cap was gone...That my insurnce had to keep paying after I hit the life time part of the insurance that was on it before..

    I do think they need to read it... I have a 36 year old who is healthy and has no insurance...He can't afford to pay for the premuims.. And if he were made to pay for it he can't....He wouldn't be able to afford the fine either...What are they going to do to make him pay for the fine??? Jail him???? Once jailed they are automatically covered by insurance...

    So the whole health care plan has some good and some very bad stuff in it to...It helped me in some areas... Overhaul is needed...

    Keep up the good work in keeping people informed...Love your blog...

  2. I read that if you were a very large company and could prove the insurance would be a factor in destroying your company you could get a waiver and not have to pay your employees insurance. Off the hook. Walmart has one of these exemptions. And as this is a company that already posts instructions on how to apply for medicaid since their private insurance is too high for anyone but managers....

    so the largest companies get a free pass to not insure their employees. So what is really different? I guess they get to watch the little companies go under. It all works for the large companys doesn't it.

  3. I'd like to see the same amount of fuss directed at laws that require us to purchase a certain level of insurance to have a car. It's not any different — except for a few highly-concentrated urban areas, you pretty much need a car in the US.

    There are risks inherent in not having either car insurance or health insurance, and if one is mandatory then the other should be. And vice versa.

  4. The debate is hot! for those who aren’t quite following, here’s a fairly good overview ( but I’d suggest twitter/streams as an ideal source for this one. Cheers!

  5. But the problem with a "free-for-all government-run program" is that it is NOT free. Someone has to pay for it, and again, we're right back to having the healthy employed forking over the $$$$.

    I certainly don't have all the answers, but having any kind of government mandated healthcare just doesn't sit right with me.

  6. Some illness is completely out of our control. Some illness is entirely a product of poor lifestyle choices. Paying for healthcare for someone who sits on their ass, smokes, drinks, does drugs, and eats every fried piece of junk in sight - that just makes me really angry.

    brenda from ar