Health Care Reform … it’s not as bad as you might think.
For one thing, Rush Limbaugh promised to leave the country if health care reform passed and was implemented. Oddly enough he plans to go to Costa Rica, a country with government financed universal health care. Facts have never been his strong point from what I can tell. I’d be surprised if he actually made good on his threat either, if there was ever someone who deserved to be called a blowhard, it’s the estimable Mr Rush.
I am assuming that the right wing blogosphere is sputtering with rage at this failure of their movement. Might even be entertaining on some level, but the foes of health care reform for the most part have been so out of touch with reality on the topic that it was sad, not funny. There’s nothing particularly radical nor socialist about the reform package, except for the patheitic fact that religious extremists have once again thrown America’s women under the bus.
In fact, there are some really good things about the health care reform bull. We didn’t get the single payer option that has worked so well in the rest of the industrialized world, but we at least reined in some of the worst excesses of the insurance companies. In fact the health care reform bill served to cripple the already existing insurance company death panels. Here then are ten good things in the bill:
- Insurance companies can no longer have a lifetime cap on insurance coverage. If you’re insured and something happens that requires lifetime care … you’re covered. What a concept, nu?
- The use of annual caps will be sharply limited and end entirely in 2014. Again, thank God.
- Insurers can longer say they will insure children, but will not cover a pre-existing condition. Yes, sick children will be able to get health insurance. Isn’t this the opposite of death panels?
- Adults with pre-existing conditions will get some help until 2014, at which point insurers will be required to cover everyone, pre-existing conditions or no.
- The dread rescission has been eliminated. This means if you get sick, your insurance company can’t cancel your policy. What a unAmerican concept eh, having to actually honour a contract?
- Children can stay on their parent’s health care program until they are 26.
- The “doughnut hole” in coverage for prescription drugs will slowly be eliminated. As it stands now, people get a few thousand dollars a year of coverage for prescription drugs, then no coverage at all until Medicare kicks in after they spend over $6k a year of their own money. Now if granny gets sick and needs drugs, they will be paid for.
- Preventative medical care from Medicare will be expanded and the co-pay eliminated. Keeping people healthy in the first place will save the country piles of money, something the foes of health care reform often seem oblivious too.
- Small businesses will get some nice tax credits for offering insurance plans to their employers.
- Insurance companies will have to reveal their operating costs, and ones with unusually high administrative costs will have to offer their customers rebates.
Is it all good? I dunno, maybe I’ll come up with a list of ten bad things next. It’s a positive change and a step forward though. Americans delight in thinking of themselves has a modern advanced country, and when it comes to our gadgets, it’s true. In other areas we are one of the most moribund nations on the planet, stuck in decades old and outdated social policies. Not to mention our shameful lack of investment in infrastructure, public transit, and education. Moving right along, giant industries need to be regulated. If the health insurance industry had their way, the only people able to get health insurance would be healthy people, and it would be cancelled as soon as they got sick.
Yes, this will cost some money. It will also save lives. Not sure why spending money to save lives and help sick people is such a problem for some people. And the bottom line is that as Americans get healthier, it will save buckets of money. Treating a problem before it turns into a an emergency room visit or a lifetime of disability will save all sorts of money. And finally there will be some incentive to end the culture of ordering necessary and expensive tests because “insurance covers it.” There’s plenty of evidence that unnecessary medical tests and procedures cause more problems than they solve; in the medical world, just like in real life, excess is just waste.
Now Congress can go on to more important reform. Let’s cut the war budget and stop meddling overseas. Snicker. Snort. Oh well, I knew I couldn’t type that with a straight face. Have a healthy week everyone.
(The above image is a painting by Rembrandt and is public domain under US copyright law. It’s titled The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, and was painted in 1632. The list of ten good things was taken from this fine AlterNet Article. I chose the painting because it’s on topic, and I was fascinated by it as a kid. As a grown up, it’s still an amazing painting, click it for the full size version, the expressions on the faces are priceless. I’m a sucker for old classics, what can I say.)