Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Why the Health Care Reform Bill Exacerbates the Problem

(This is a copy of a note I posted to facebook earlier today as I was researching the health reform legislation.)

As we've all heard, one of the things this reform does is to prohibit those deep-pocketed insurance companies from imposing limits on coverage of pre existing conditions. And they will now have to accept anyone who applies for coverage, no questions asked.

Now everyone has to purchase coverage (or will, as of some future date). If you work for a large employer, they have to offer it or pay a penalty. If you work for a small employer or you're self employed, you have to purchase the coverage for yourself. The penalty if you don't? $95. That's annually. Yep $95 per year. So the young healthy person has a choice, pay several hundred $ per month for insurance coverage or pay a $95 penalty once a year.
If I'm that young healthy person and I know that if I ever got really sick I could get coverage any time, I'm going to take my chances and pay $95 per year.
Now what do you think is going to happen to the cost PER PERSON for the folks who are covered?

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Response to President Obama's Health Care Speech

This is a duplicate of the note I posted on my facebook page:

Let me preface this by saying these are my own views and not necessarily the views of my company. I have a general disclaimer on my profile, but because this hits "close to home" I feel the need to repeat it here.

For those who missed it, the text of the speech can be found here: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/06/15/politics/main5090277.shtml

1. Agreed. We HAVE to do something to help our uninsured. To me this is nothing less than a moral obligation for a company with our size and wealth compared to the rest of the world.

2. The numbers. I'm not convinced the proposed changes are going to happen quickly enough to achieve the kind of savings he is talking about. Is he even TALKING to any actuaries?

And then, seriously, 900 billion is supposed to equal recent tax cuts on the "wealthiest Americans"? I'm curious as to what income level puts a family in that category? Be prepared, it may be MUCH lower than any of us "middle class" Americans thinks.

On the other hand, I've always known #1 would cost, and we as a country have to bear that cost one way or another. We just need to be honest about who is paying for it, and not say that it is just "the wealthiest Americans" when it is more likely the "wealthiest" 80% or so.

3. I did not appreciate his dig against insurance companies. For months AHIP, the health insurance association, has been saying exactly what he proposed, that if there is an individual mandate there would be no need for the pre-existing conditions exclusions that currently exist. Yet the way he said it, it was as if he was "forcing" this upon the industry, as if health insurers are the adversaries. AHIP, under a different form, was adversarial towards "Hillary Care" but they have taken a different stance this time, SINCE BEFORE THE ELECTION, and have endeavored to be partners on this. It may score political points in a speech to paint insurance companies as the enemy, but it's dishonest, or at least disingenuous. This is not "speaking plainly" to the American public.

For more on AHIP's Campaign for an American Solution, click here: http://www.americanhealthsolution.org/

4. There was not enough meat. I still don't know what the proposed Health Reform Bill DOES. I know there is a public option, which I was unsure about previously, but that's about the only thing I know tonight that I didn't know this morning.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inaugural Thoughts

I received a phone call last week. It was from some political survey group. I had thought those guys were finished for a while, but I guess not.

"Are you a registered Republican?" he asked.

Reluctantly, I answered yes. Reluctantly, because while I consider myself a conservative, I don't like aligning myself with any party. I reserve the right to consider each issue separately, and I'm equally suspicious of all politicians, regardless of party affiliation. Nevertheless, when I was younger and more sure of myself, I did register as a Republican.

So then he asked, "Do you agree that Republicans need to unite and stand strong against Obama's policies?"

"No," I told him. "I don't agree. I would prefer to wait and see what he actually intends to do before I join forces with anyone to stop him." I mean come on, this was last week, when he was still President Elect.

This morning I bought a newspaper, USA Today. It's the second day in a row that I've done that, but I can't remember the last time I bought one (before yesterday, I mean). The newspaper is full of hope. Even the political cartoon was the word "hope" printed over and over again in the shape of the 48 contiguous states. People seem to be really positive that President Obama will be able to fix everything that's wrong with America. They think that the election of a black president means the end of racial divides. For the first time in a long time, Americans seem to be taking an optimistic view of things. They seem to be saying, "Yes, it will be hard, but we can do this thing together." That's nice.

But if our hope is dependent on the man who sits in the Oval Office, we are going to be disappointed. As a nation we are facing some real challenges, and the solutions won't be easy to implement. Changing policies is often a zero sum game where there are winners and losers. Someone is going to be unhappy about the changes. Will they blame the president when that happens?

As for me, I do have hope in this country, and I am willing to make some sacrifices "for the greater good". But I had hope before yesterday's inauguration. I had hope before the election last fall. I had hope when the stock market fell and I had hope when the World Trade Center came down. I spent my childhood idolizing George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and I believe in our system of government.

But my true hope is not in my government. My true hope is not in my country or my president. My true hope is not in my 401k, or in my cash savings. "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness." That, my friends, is the only hope that will never disappoint you.

Today, I am putting this newspaper away in my desk drawer. Sometime in the future, when I'm in the middle of something else, I'll find this paper, and I'll reflect on the hope of this day, and how it has played out. But whatever happens, there is one thing I know for sure, two things I can count on: God is still God, and Christ is the Solid Rock on which I stand.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Obviously I got distracted

Not that I've stopped thinking about health care and the uninsured and all, but I'm just not sure I have anything new to say about the situation right now. With the current state of the economy, health care reform may take a back seat to other economic issues. Right now there's not much to do except to continue to learn about the issues and wait to see what proposals will come about. So that is what I am doing and if I learn anything significant I will be sure to share it here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

In case you haven't noticed...

I love ya
You're always a day A-way!

PS - Just in case you were wondering, the stock market is volatile right now b/c it's volatile. It's gonna be like this for a good while. We had the biggest 2 day loss after an election day b/c we had the biggest gain for an election day. It wouldn't have mattered if Mickey Mouse had won the election. Wall Street would have reacted the same way. It's not nearly as significant as the media seems to want it to be.

PPS - The gas price thing just has me scratching my head. They say it is supply and demand, but I do not see more people on the road with $2/gallon gas nor did I see fewer people on the road with $4/gallon gas. The same people are on the road every day. I think the supply and demand thing is actually for futures, but I still don't quite understand what the price of futures has to do with the price of gas at the pump. So if you can explain it to me, I'd love to be enlightened.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My thoughts on health care

As promised, here are my thoughts on the health care issue.

Many years ago, I was a staunch believer in personal responsibility where health care and health insurance are concerned. I reasoned that it is not right for a person to go along through life, "self insuring" as long as she or he is young and healthy, and then suddenly expect others to pay her or his way once the first signs of aging and disease begin. I still believe that.

However, the more I study this issue, the more I have come to realize that there is a whole segment of the American public -- many of whom WORK for a living and just scrape by -- for whom the concept of health insurance doesn't work. They simply can't afford it. And I'm not talking about only those people whose income is below that artificial line that we officially call "poverty". I'm talking about people who feel that they can choose to buy food or insurance. They can buy secondhand clothes and shoes for their kids, or they can buy insurance. I believe I have a moral obligation to do what I can to help those people.

Then there are those who can't get insurance because of what we call "Pre-Existing Conditions". Insurance companies won't cover them because to do so would threaten their entire block of business. I would be happy to explain this further if anyone is truly looking for an explanation, but for now I'll leave it right there. Some of these people are the ones I talked about in the first paragraph. They were initially out of the system by choice, and now they cannot get in. However, others may have lost their coverage because of a job change or similar circumstance. These, too, I feel need assistance and as it is impossible to sort out who may be deserving and who may not be, we'll have to err on the side of including them all.

To cover these people, there is going to be a cost. Perhaps a portion of the cost could be borne by the individuals themselves, if they have the means. However, the bulk of the cost will have to be picked up by the taxpayer.

Meanwhile, for those with insurance, costs keep going higher and higher. I keep thinking that they can't continue to increase forever, but except for a few years in the late 90's (if memory serves correctly) they have certainly been rising for my entire adult life. This too needs to be addressed, and the means of addressing it may very well be a fundamental change in the current system. We may in fact need to turn the system on end and build a new one from the ground up.

More tomorrow...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Halloween Link

The internetmonk has some things to say about Halloween, and I heartily agree.

I'll get back to politics tomorrow. Really.

PS, I got that link from this blog.