Sound Off on the Healthcare Reform Debate

capitol-domeThe debate is in full swing in our nation’s capitol over how to fix the skyrocketing cost of healthcare that is bankrupting many families and pushing 14,000 people every day into the ranks of the uninsured.  There are, broadly speaking, three main schools of thought regarding the challenges we face.  Where does your thinking fall in this continuum?  Follow me over the fold to read the prevailing thinking.In general terms, most of the folks I have spoken to on this subject fall into one of three categories regarding how they feel about the state of modern healthcare in the United States.Group One : Folks who believe that the current system is acceptable and that while more should be done to assist the 50,000,000 uninsured Americans find ways to gain coverage, no significant, legislative changes should be made.The folks in Group One are essentially satisfied with the status quo and represent one end of the spectrum of thinking.  On the other end of the spectrum are the folks in Group Two.Group Two: Folks who believe that the “for profit” nature of the private health insurance industry results in the concern over profits outweighing concerns over people’s health.  These folks cite insurance industry practices like recission and denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions as evidence that the industry puts profit above the wellbeing of its customers.  These folks typically support what is known as a Single Payer system.  Effective in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom, single payer plans cover all citizens and are funded by taxes collected from all citizens.  The provision of healthcare is government regulated and not-for-profit. Somewhere in between the status quo thinking of Group One and the single payer overhaul favored by Group Two, lies the folks in Group Three.Group Three: There is a middle ground between allowing the insurance industry to continue to do business unchanged and eliminating them altogether by enacting single payer.  People who advocate for the “Public Option” are the majority of folks in Group Three.   These folks argue for legislating a government administered healthcare plan available to anyone who wishes opt for the government plan.  No American could be denied coverage through the public plan.  Their argument holds that a government adminstered, non-profit health plan could operate far more cost effectively than the private insurers.   This would make the low priced public coverage   very attractive to those paying high premiums for their private plans.   As more people begin to take advantage of the public healthcare option – so the logic goes – the private insurance companies would have to work to match the price or lose customers.  Thus, the overall cost of healthcare would be driven down for all Americans. Of course there are many variations on each of these three, broad ideas. The debate is fierce.  There are many competing concerns.  The insurance industries are making record profits and argue that the system is not the problem.  Taxpayers are concerned about the spiraling debt that our government has accrued over the last 9 years and are concerned about how a public option would be funded.  Advocates for those in poverty ask how in the United States with all our abundance, 50,000,000 of our countrymen are completely without medical coverage. What do you think is the answer?  As healthcare industry professionals-to-be, this is an issue that will effect your career greatly.  Are you a Group One, Two or Three thinker?  Sound off in the comments.

8 Responses to “Sound Off on the Healthcare Reform Debate”

  1. Rose Ribboni

    BELOW IS AN EMAIL I RECEIVED ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE ISSUE AND DIRECTLY BELOW IT, IS THE ANSWER I SENT ABOUT IT:

    Finally…The $50,000 question was asked.!!!….Yesterday on the ABC…Obama Special on Health Care…Obama was asked “Mr. President will you and your family give up your current health care program and join the new “Universal Health Care Program” that the rest of us will be on???…Obama ignored the question and didn’t answer it!!!…A number of senators were asked the same question and their response as…we will think about it!!! It was also announced today on the news that the “Kennedy Health Care Bill”…was written into it that Congress will be (from this great health care plan)…EXEMPT!!! How about those apples…Not good enough for Obama or Congress…but OK for the rest of us??? We…The Americans….need to stop this..ASAP!!!!….and Revolt…This is wrong!!!! I think that we are all entitled to the same health plan as the president and Congress. After all, aren’t we all equal???????

    Here is the response I sent to that email:

    Actually, he DID answer that question. He said, “I am the President of the United States. I have an excellent health plan. This is not about me, it is about making sure there is a basic level of coverage for all Americans.” The public option is supposed to work in tandem with the private health insurance industry. That’s why I don’t understand the “care will be diminished and rationed” argument from the opposition. The rich will still be able to afford the gold plated plans they want. This just provides a baseline of coverage so that no one has to be completely without. And if the coverage is in any way decent, the many middle income Americans (myself included) will seriously consider signing up for the government plan which you can be sure will be a fraction of what I pay now. The overall effect will be to force the private Ins companies to meet the prices of the government plan or lose tremendous market share. The above argument is a strawman. Carrying the false equivalency of this argument to its logical conclusion, we should be indignant about the fact the president has his own plane. Why shouldn’t he fly southwest like the rest of us? Perhaps he shouldn’t have a bullet proof limousine either. I drive an 8 year old minivan. If it’s good enough for me… It is a bitter pill to me that our elected representatives have a GUARANTEE of coverage and I don’t. The relative quality of the coverage doesn’t comfort the 50,000,000 Americans with no coverage at all. I am successful enough that I can keep my private, employer-subsidized coverage if I am not happy with the public option. But if I lose my job, i am gonna be in much better shape if there is a public option than I would be if I lost it today paying COBRA $1500 a month. I certainly wouldn’t whine, “The President of the US has better coverage than me”.

    • Anthony

      Today in a town hall meeting in Bristol, VA to promote his healthcare initiative, President Obama clearly stated he would accept coverage provided through a public option.

  2. Linda Passamaneck

    I fall into group three. This is a very important issue for me because I am self-employed and purchase my own health insurance. Previously I was covered by employer health plans. So when I first started my company I did not have health insurance because I could not afford it, and I have no health problems and rarely go to the doctor. When I went to get insurance about a year later, I was issued a policy under published rates, but just before I got my first bill, I received a letter saying I was being rated up due to lack of pre-existing coverage. This is not a fair way to do business. It had nothing to do with my health status, but this is apparently an allowable practice.

    About a year later, I switched plans and a couple of months into the plan, I did actually have to go to the doctor for an ear infection. I started getting letters from the insurance company stating that I had a pre-existing condition that could invalidate my policy. Luckily for me, I haven’t had an ear infection since I was 12 and was able to provide documentation from my old company showing I hadn’t even been to the doctor in over a year.

    But if I had an ear infection, would I have lost my insurance? It seems that they only will insure folks until they actually need the insurance then they scramble to find ways not to pay.

    I only share these personal examples with you because I believe that getting, keeping, and paying for private insurance is much more difficult than most Americans under employer coverage believe it is.

    I am also typically pro-market…believing that people’s choices will guide the policies and service a company provides. However, in this case, the insurance companies all seem to be struggling and are utilizing similar practices that may not be fair, or perhaps even ethical.

    I do believe that the government needs to step in to regulate insurance more, and I definitely believe that the government needs to provide basic, affordable health care plans to provide options to the many under and uninsured people in our nation (many of whom are women and children).

    I don’t believe that single-payer systems will be efficient or cost-effective, but the people do need some help from the government on this issue.

    I think the biggest concern for me is the costs of healthcare. I think we need healthcare insurance reform, but also healthcare reform in general. By addressing insurance, we are treating a symptom of a larger problem – high costs of medical care.

    I still believe we have some of the best healthcare in the world, but if no one, included the insurance companies can pay for it, it really doesn’t matter how good the care is.

    Is anyone else wondering why there isn’t more focus on the ridiculous costs of supplies and procedures in the US? I appreciate and hope the government’s plans work…but will it still bankrupt us all in the process?

    Am I alone in my concern?

    • Anthony

      I am a Group 3 member but only because I am convinced that special interests and their lobbyists on Capitol Hill have too compromised our elected leaders through millions of dollars in campaign contributions for a single-payer plan to be passed politically. If there is no profit motive for hospitals and coverage providers, it becomes exceedingly easy to cut costs. Also, with single payer, the plan could negotiate for dramatically lower rates for prescription drugs. Our system protects price fixing between insurers and drug manufacturers. Don’t forget, under the Republican led Congress, our government made it illegal to purchase the same Rx from Canadian sources for a fraction of the price. The savings on prescription drug prices alone would be staggering.

      I have dozens of friends and relatives in Canada, France and the UK. Everyone in those countries pays into the single-payer plans there and their healthcare is guaranteed by the government. There is no rationing, long delays in service or any of the other scare tactics used by the insurance industry to dissuade folks from demanding it here. They all think we’re loopy as Americans for not doing the same. Neither are any of my friends in those countries being crushed under the weight of excessive taxation to support it.

  3. I’d have to say that I’m in group 1. I’m afraid of major overhauls doing more damage than good. I’d like to see more people uninsured, but I think there are better ways of doing it.

    • I don’t know. The current system is bankrupting businesses and individual families. It has to go. What we have doesn’t really work well for anyone. Are you happy with your current insurance? Do you have any? Do you pay your own or is it through your job? I get mine through work and my out of pocket costs have gone up 50% in 5 years. The status quo is failing too many and the industry is clearly corrupt. They’re making record profits while most Americans are feeling the pinch or going under.

  4. Everyone certainly has an opinion on this topic, and they are speaking out. Did you see the video of the people going off on Allan Spectre. People are letting their voice be hear.

    With that said, I’d probably fall into category #3.

    • You are aware, those people going off in the video of Arlen Specter are “astroturfers” or staged protestors, bussed to the event and compensated by insurance industry?

      The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:

      “Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

      Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

      Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.””

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