Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My take on HealthCare

I haven't posted much at all on this subject, because frankly, I haven't read the bill and really don't know too much about what it says.

I know that it doesn't talk about "death panels", euthanasia, abortions, etc. But other than that, it is a 1,000 page bill. And my representatives won't even read it.

So far, from what [little] I do know:
  • People are angry on both sides.
  • The right says the left are being thugs at the town halls
  • The left says the right are being thugs at the town halls
  • I've seen pictures/videos of both of them doing it
  • I doubt there are many "paid" disrupters
  • Lies are being thrown about by both sides as to what exactly this bill is or isn't

I have some opinions:

  • The Representatives/Senators we've elected need to read the thing, in its entirety, before voting either way
  • People need to calm down at the town hall meetings, and stop shouting over each other
  • While I feel for the uninsured, I don't think now is the time to fix this
  • Thus, I don't like it that Obama is rushing this through

Therefore, before giving healthcare to everyone, I think we need to do something more important: fix the healthcare system for those of us who already have healthcare. If you watch the movie Sicko by Michael Moore, regardless of how you feel about him, this brilliant documentary really shows how the insurance companies screw us over. There are "death" panels on private insurance companies' payroll; there are people who decide if they should pay for healthcare based on monetary/accounting figures. My sister almost died because the insurance company wouldn't approve her MRI to see what was wrong with her. When my parents finally just borrowed the money to do it anyway, they found a life threatening disease that would have killed my sister had they not caught it in time.

And that is wrong. My parents pay for healthcare.

This is what needs to be fixed. Otherwise, we are going to replace these corrupt beaurecrats with government ones, and everyone will deal with these guys. Fix the system we have now, don't just shuffle who pays for it and give it to everyone.


Shaw Kenawe said...

"While I feel for the uninsured, I don't think now is the time to fix this."

Then when? We, as a nation, have been talking about this subject since Harry Truman's administration.

You "feel" for the uninsured? I have two members of my family who lost their jobs in the downturn, who have children and who have no insurance. Their unemployment checks won't cover COBRA.

When and if any of these people get sick or have an accident, they will go the an emergency room, and you and I will pay for the thousands of dollars to make them whole again.

According to SEC filings in the years 2000 to 2007, the insurers' profits have gone from $2.4 billion to $12.7 billion. During that same period, the uninsured have gone from 38.4 million to 45.7 million. You do not have to feel too sorry for the insurance companies because the CEO one of the largest insurance companies is making over $102,000 an hour.

Capitalism is great but if profits are going up at that rate, why are our insurance premiums increasing?

Why are claims being denied? If Congress does not act, the rising cost of insurance will continue by about 10% each year, 14,000 people will lose their insurance each day, about a million will go into bankruptcy because of medical costs, and our companies will continue to lose their competitive edge.

"Thus, I don't like it that Obama is rushing this through."

Hardly rushing. We've lived with the lack of universal coverage for decades, while the other industrialized western countries have been able to provide their citizens with medical coverage.

It can be done.

The powerful insurance industry doesn't want it. Can you understand why?

Tom said...

Are we to inept? We can't do both? Fix the system and insure the uninsured.
A position I can't agree with; fix the system for those who have, while still ignoring those who do not have.
You won't win the humanitarian award of the year.
Could be that if conservatives would allow a calm discussion of Obama's plan, the people might not like it.
Conservatives are not willing to take that gamble.
They don't offer an alternative. They don't ask that certain portions be changed, or eliminated.
They just want to stop it.
If they won't allow debate, then they should be ignored and let the usual process of discussion by serious people proceed without intimidation.

Anonymous said...

I commented over at Pam's regarding this but I will do so here as well.

I actually think these should be two different issues dealt with in different ways.

We need to fix the health care system for the people that are insured. I've cut and pasted my ideas that I first brought up at Truth's.

* Change the tax code. Individuals should have the same tax incentives as employers who offer coverage. For example, there could be an income tax deduction of $7,500 for individuals and $15,000 for families. Over the long-term, people will move to portable, long-term individual insurance.

* Refundable tax credit. A refundable tax credit of $2,500 for individuals or $5,000 for families would eliminate the tax exclusion for those who get their insurance from their employers.

* Allow the purchase of health care insurance across state lines so that individuals have more choices in plans. This will encourage a robust market in individually owned health care.

* Reduce state regulations and mandates on insurance plans to help reduce costs. There are 1,901 mandates nationwide in 2007, up from 1,843 in 2006.

* Expand tax breaks for Health Savings Accounts. HSAs provide for tax-free accumulation and at the same time offer real protection against larges losses.

* Allow for the growth of convenient clinics. There are about 700 retail clinics located in Wal-Marts, Targets, and other Walk-in Centers. Convenient clinics reduce the costs by offering the uninsured an alternative to emergency rooms. It’s also an inexpensive option for people with HSAs.

* Medical Malpractice reforms are needed to help keep doctors’ insurance costs down which will reduce the costs of care. For example, states could enact laws that would put a cap on non-economic damages.

* Provide vouchers for the working poor so that they can purchase insurance from a state pool.

Did anyone ever consider this from a state control vs national government control angle?

I also think that we have to get illegal immigration controlled before we can begin to find answers. They are a part of the problem.

I also really like the idea of HSA's. The details would have to be worked out of course but paying into something that actually belongs to you.

As we are changing the current health system, we can be throwing out ideas how to get the uninsured, insured in the best possible way. That might be better if it was at the state level too!

Anonymous said...

Tom, you apparently were writing when I was, so I will address your comment now.

"Conservatives are not willing to take that gamble.
They don't offer an alternative. They don't ask that certain portions be changed, or eliminated.
They just want to stop it."

That is just not true, and the proof is my comment above. I don't like Obama's bill, but there are ideas that aren't so radical and something that people can stand behind more comfortably.

Tom said...


That's your proof for yourself, and some good ideas.

I have not heard any of those ideas (or any ideas at all) from the national Republican leaders, or the "shouters" that have disrupted these town halls.

The 'shouters" are not giving ideas, they are just saying no, in a loud and disruptive manner.

These town halls were supposed to explain the bill that the Democrats have written, by Democrats.

Even the Democrats in the audience have not been able to ask questions because of the disruptions.

There is no give and take of ideas in these meetings.

You offer good ideas and are willing to discuss the issue, but my complaint still stands because it defines what is going on at these meetings and the lack of what the national Republican leaders are offering.

* Change the tax code.....

* Refundable tax credit.....

Are these on top of each other, or separate? Health Insurance for an individual is about 13,000 a year, about 25,000 for a family.

* Reduce state regulations and mandates.....

What kind of mandates? The devil is in the details. Are we talking about mandates of coverage, process, security, etc....? Some mandates are there for a GOOD reason.

* Allow the purchase of health care insurance across state lines .....

Good idea.

* Allow for the growth of convenient clinics.....

Great, still affordability problems, if one has no insurance.

* Medical Malpractice.....

Malpractice has to be decided on an individual basis. Caps should not be allowed on a case where the patient is permanently handicapped. A $200,000 (whatever it is now?) cap won't cover a lifelong disability due to doctor's negligence.
Tort reform is a small% of medical costs, but every little bit helps. Frauds should be put in jail like any other criminal.

* Provide vouchers.....

You mean a 100% cost voucher? The number of working poor grows everyday.

Did anyone ever consider this from a state control vs national government control angle?

I really like this idea, but the money would still come from the federal government (our taxes)-right?

I also think that we have to get illegal immigration controlled.....

Insuring illegals is a matter of cost control, not morality. If we don't address it, we won't solve the cost problem. They are the main source of out of line unpaid hospital bills. How long should we wait? We have not solved the immigration problem, since the start of our country.

What's costing, is paying for the uninsured. If we don't insure the uninsured, we might as well do nothing. Any complaints about service and coverage for those who have insurance can be addressed without changing the whole system.

All the ideas about taxes, vouchers, HSAs, etc., only apply to those with means to by insurance. They do not help those without means. A person without money can not afford insurance, no matter what discount we figure out.
These ideas can help those on the financial edge.

There should still be regulations on private insurance companies to stop dropping people because of pre-existing conditions and dropping people because they get sick. It happens everyday.

I am a liberal. I see no reason why health care availability is not part of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

Health care is much more important to "life" than other rights we have.

We communally pay for other things that are less important. Why can't we communally pay for such a "life and death" matter?

Obama's plan does not solve all our problems, but the "NO" plan from Republican leaders solves no problems.

I hope you can convince those leaders to adopt some of your ideas, or at least offer some of their own.

The debate should be over opposing plans and which is better. The debate now is over one plan, or no plan.

Anonymous said...

Point taken Tom. I am also ticked off at the GOP for doing nothing!! I've been very vocal about that too. I don't like Obama's plan but the fact that the GOP has offered nothing isn't helping anyone.

I think that if the protesters want to show their dislike of the bill, that is fine. Not being able to discuss anything is counterproductive though and helps neither the democrats or the republicans. I feel that the best form of protest is to just let the representatives try and answer questions that they won't have a good answer to.

For example.....I have no faith in government after the horrible bailout, social security is broken.....how can we depend on govt to run the entire health care system?

I should have stated before hand as I did over at Truth's place that I did not come up with these ideas. I did research and tried to focus on the ideas that had the most potential in my eyes.

Pamela D. Hart said...

This is a blueprint of what the Republicans offered back in June. It’s all I could find at this time of night...(1:22AM EST)

Pamela D. Hart said...

Over at Truth’s place, he asked for some suggestions from “Right-Wingers”.

Here’s what I posted:

You wanted a “Right Wing Suggestion” to health care. Well here’s mine. This may have been talked about before, and if it has, I apologize.

How about we add a policy, something like Medicare, let’s just call it “Medifree” for sake of argument. Medifree will cover anyone who doesn’t have private insurance, isn’t on Medicare, Medicaid or can’t afford insurance through their employer or any other means. In other words, those who CAN afford insurance but chose NOT to purchase it, i.e. the 18-34 yr old invincibles and families who earn at least $50K would have to purchase their own insurance. So, those who truly can NOT afford insurance would get insurance through “Medifree” because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and are too young to be on Medicare. Obviously we tax payers would have to foot the bill, but we are ultimately paying for their health care coverage anyway. But it may be cheaper in the long run, because if those who CAN afford insurance buy their own then we won’t be paying for them, only those who truly can’t afford it. We also need to look into tort reform and also into ways to keep other costs down and find out why these insurance companies pay for some things that shouldn’t be covered but don’t cover other items that should be covered. There’s also the issue of the insurance companies gouging the heck out of the policy holders. Why is that? They are making exuberant profits but yet they are constantly raising our premiums.

Again, if this has already been discussed, I apologize or if it’s not something we could implement, again I’m sorry. But it’s something that has been on my mind and I thought I’d post it here since you asked for a suggestion from someone on the Right. And maybe there are some who could add to or subtract from what I've suggested.

Tom said...

Thanks Pamela and Jennifer.

I have read this before. It is the 4 page plan unveiled by the House Republican leader months ago.

Good ideas, but no plan, no figures, no bill. I could go along with some of those ideas.

It's easy to pick at the Democrats plan, because they have one with details and figures that can be criticized.

I wonder what the reaction by the people would be if the Republicans had a plan with figures and details.

To cut costs we have to insure the uninsured. To do that we will have to pay for their coverage, which would be cheaper than paying their medical bills now without coverage.

We could cut away at the number of uninsured.

Make medical insurance mandatory like auto insurance.

Have national catastrophic medical insurance. Cover the uninsured for big bill illnesses.

Match the idea of clinics at Wal Mart, Target, ect. with young doctors and health professionals trying to pay off their school loans by doing free work. In fact, a circle of free clinics.

Drug companies already give free drugs to the poor, maybe that can be increased.

Doctors do give some free services (pro bono) maybe that could be increased and we could give a tax deduction for doctors free services within a certain amount.

Teaching institutions could take on patients at no charge.

There are ways to cut costs, but we are a capitalistic system. Why do Americans pay 3 times more for drugs than the rest of the World? Are caps needed? Stopping excessive profits, or price gouging is not against capitalistic ideals.

I don't have the answers, just ideas.

Shaw Kenawe said...

One of the things I did to educate myself on this was to visit Senator Kennedy's office in Boston yesterday, where I met with one of his very informed aides and spoke about this bill.

There's a lot to wade through and we all have legitimate questions on a good deal of it.


Your discussion here has been enlightening. I've learned a lot from Jennifer, Pam, and Tom. And they've managed to contribute to the discussion without calling anyone a name.

Thank you.

James' Muse said...

Well thank you to Tom, Jennifer, Pam, and Shaw.

It IS nice to have discussions without the name calling.

Shaw: I would love to see everyone insured. What I am worried about right now is that we will get the uninsured insured, but then everyone will be subject to what we have now: beauracrats calling the shots instead of doctors. But instead of private insurance beauracrats, we'll see government cronies instead. I'd like to see the system that we have right now fixed before we give it to everyone.

In Moore's "Sicko" documentary, a man lost two fingers. The insurance would only pay for one to be put back on, and he had to choose.

That needs to stop, and once we get that figured out, THEN we can figure out how to give a perfected insurance system to all.

TRUTH 101 said...

I very much appreciate the ideas offered by Jennifer, Pamela and you James. Agree or not, I can take solace that there are rational people that don't agree with me.

This won't sit well with Jennifer, but I'm ready for Obama to tell his people to drop the plan as it sits now and start over on a single payer plan that really is change. Leave the nabobs of negativity out of it. The Mitch McConnels will offer nothing but more accusations of socialism and any other isms they can think of. Just do it. I'm all for an exchange of ideas from people who want to make a positive difference. The loudest voices in this debate offer nothing. Just loud voices.

Anonymous said...

Truth, you should know by now that you don't have to please me. I know you care, and we are allowed to have different opinions. Of course, you are right, not crazy about that idea to start over and go single payer. The start over part sounds good though! :-)