Felicia Muftic: Facing the realities of health care reform
July 26, 2009
My biggest laugh in the debate on health care reform was generated by a commercial sponsored by for-profit health insurers claiming, “They put patients first.” Come on. Do you think anyone really believes that? The American Medical association, nurses’ associations, and pharmaceutical companies do not. They are endorsing President Obama’s concepts for reform and finding ways to reduce their own costs.
For-profit insurers and providers answer to their shareholders first. Like all insurers, they make their money selling premiums and then paying out claims while keeping the payouts as minimal as possible – looking for fine-print excuses to deny coverage and dropping you later if you get too expensive for them. If you lose your job, you cannot afford their insurance anyway. That is why over 70 percent of people polled want to be able to choose a public option.
Republicans, as a political party or in Congress, offer no legislation to keep escalating private insurer costs in check or to cover the currently uninsured. Their bottom line seems to protect the high administrative costs of for-profit providers and insurers instead of giving consumers a choice of a cheaper public option. Republicans have also been caught giving the reason to say “no” to any reform proposals: To hand the President a big political defeat, his Waterloo. Republicans are not putting patients first, either.
The for-profit providers and insurers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plan to bombard Colorado with a million dollar ad campaign.
Here are some reality checks to keep in mind when you hear them:
“A government plan is going to mean your health care will be rationed and government will get between you and your doctor’s advice.”
Reality: We have extreme rationing now since 40 million cannot afford their insurance; the uninsured have a 50 percent greater chance of dying prematurely than do the insured.
Private insurers now can refuse to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions (Obama would put an end to that), yet those patients need insurance the most. Private health insurers already dictate what physicians prescribe by limiting and denying coverage. Funny, Medicare, a government insurance program for seniors, has a high consumer satisfaction rate.
“You will die standing in line waiting for the government to approve your optional, non-life-threatening surgery, just like Canadians.”
Reality: This argument is as fake as a scarecrow. Obama is not proposing the Canadian system. Canada does not even permit private competing plans. If U.S. citizens do not like the public option, you will be able to choose private plans.
“Private insurers cannot compete with a government option plan and will fade away.”
Reality: It has not happened anywhere in the industrialized world where private insurers are allowed to compete with national health. Are our private insurers so incompetent they cannot figure how to change their business plans to compete and still profit?
“Why change? We like our quality of health care.”
Reality: The United States has the shortest life expectancy and highest infant mortality rate of any industrialized countries in the world. We are the only country of those nations that does not have national health. Private insurance premiums are projected to rise 70 percent in the next ten years; many more consumers will not be able to afford any insurance at any quality without reform.
“Massive jobs loss will result because employers will not be able to provide insurance or the tax for not providing it. Small business will be killed off.”
Reality: The details are still a work in progress but even the most liberal House bill exempts businesses with a payroll of less than $250,000 and businesses with fewer than 20 workers will be able to tap into a new purchasing pool that includes the government option. Do not overlook the boom in health care jobs as 40 million more will be given new access to care.
“We cannot afford it given our (Republican caused) deficit”
Obama got the message: he is putting the screws on the Senate Finance Committee to scale down and tweak methods to pay for it, just so payment is not on the backs of the middle class. He will not sign a bill that will add to the deficit. However. we cannot afford to continue as we have because it will bankrupt both government and consumers.
“You will lose Medicare benefits.”
Reality: Medicare Advantage will be eliminated because it was costing taxpayers overpayments of at least 13 percent to private insurers to administer Medicare. Those who had been covered by that plan will still get Medicare. The AARP (largest retired person’s lobbying group) urges health care reform because “with so many people looking at their health care premiums nearly doubling in the next 10 years, the time for action on health reform is now.”
– Visit Felicia Muftic blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com (topics: fiscal irresponsibility of health care reform; stimulus failure to create jobs) or click on to her Web site, http://www.mufticforum.com.