First there was “tort reform.” State after state passed tort reform laws sold to gullible voters who, desperate for relief after watching their insurance rates rise year after year, were ripe marks for the con that it was “frivolous lawsuits” that were to blame and limiting damages was The Way to lower insurance premiums. And if fear of rising premiums didn’t work, the Powers That Be tried to scare us by shrieking that a No vote on tort reform would mean all the doctors in our state would pack it in and move elsewhere and then What Would We Do when we desperately needed a doctor? And, sadly, the majority of voters believed them. Except that it didn’t quite work out the way they’d been told it would.
What we are now left with is no real ability to sue and are still paying ever-increasing insurance rates across the board (auto, home, health, etc) while getting less and less, especially when it comes to health insurance. Tort “reform” is designed to protect insurance profits. Period.
Now we’ve got Health Care Reform™ and as the days tick by and newer ‘versions’ are floated, it should be clear to everyone who can breath that “reform” will mean exactly this: Another way to rip us off.
Sources say that it’s a major scale-back of the outline they had before. Specifically, subsidies have dropped from 400 percent of the poverty line to 300 percent. Medicaid eligibility has been tightened to 133 percent of poverty for children and pregnant women and 100 percent of poverty for parents and childless adults. The plans being offered in the exchange have seen their actuarial values sharply lowered.
Beyond the changes, this is also the clearest look we’ve had at the specific policies being considered. There’s a fairly strong individual mandate, albeit with exemptions for those beneath the poverty line, those who would have to spend more than 15 percent of income for a plan, and undocumented workers. There are a variety of options for an employer mandate, or the absence of one. Sen. Kent Conrad’s co-op idea is up for discussion. There’s no public plan mentioned anywhere in the document.
First they drove a stake into the heart of Single Payer telling us “Yes! We will provide you a Public Option that will keep the Private Insurers honest and lower costs for everyone!”
Then we saw the vultures start to circle the Public Option as well. Instead of being a vehicle for competition to private insurers, it became imperative that the Public Option must not threaten the profitibility of Private Insurers. Because that would be bad.
Now? The Senate Finance Committee version has no Public Option. At All. But there is an Individual Mandate. That means that you and I will be forced to purchase insurance from private insurers. I’ve got a name for government forcing us to purchase insurance from private companies and I’ve used it for years when speaking of auto insurance: Legalized Extortion. In order to drive my car on public roads, the government requires that I show proof of insurance. And you know what? I don’t have a problem with requiring every licensed drive to have insurance. What I do have a problem with is turning this requirement over to Private Insurers who can pick and choose who they will insure and charge wildly fluctuating rates depending on the insured’s demographic. Is that what we have to look forward to with Health Care reform? The way things are going, I am not optimistic.
We’ve all had our go-rounds with insurance companies. Surely they are the most despised entities on the face of the earth and our Democratic majority is kissing their asses. Honestly, I don’t think the Dems know any other way to act. It’s like its hard-wired into them at this point. They are congenitally incapable of standing up against the unpopular but powerful. Witness their constant roll-overs for George W. Bush.
A ’strong individual mandate’ means you and I must buy in. The potential of no employer mandate means you and I would have to cover the entire cost of our premiums. I have a pretty decent plan through my employer. Currently my insurance premiums are about a 25/75 split with my employer and even with that I pay $75 every two weeks for just ME . If I had to spring for the full enchilada, that’s COBRA territory and out of my reach given my current expenses.
If my employer is offered the option of NOT insuring me, in these days of cost cutting and bottom lines, I really wonder if they’d continue to want to cough up the premiums for me and the other 8,000 people that work for them. Of course, there is nothing that says they have to cover me as they do now. They consider it a worthwhile business investment in order to attract and retain quality employees. So I’m not really all that concerned for myself. But I am deeply concerned for the upwards of 50 million uninsured Americans. They don’t have health insurance because they don’t want to. They don’t have it because they can’t even afford the premiums, let alone have the funds to cover their deductibles and co-pays.
Please read Katiebird’s post. She quotes a commenter at Klein’s blog and it is sobering.
IF “15% of income for a plan” means JUST the premiums, there will be open defiance of the mandate. The deductibles and copays can easily drive the cost of a plan to 2 – 4 times that of the premiums. Expecting household to ante up 15% of gross income ($4873 in premiums alone for 1 person with a $32,491 income) and then to pay a $1000 -2500 deductible plus 20-30% copays on top of that iis NUTS! They will be sinking wel over 20% of their income into medical insurance and copays and deductibles. How on earth are they supposed to pay 20% of their income in taxes, spend 25% on housing, save 10% for retirement, 5% for retirement, pay for transportation, repay student loans and still eat when 80% of their income is committed to health insurance, taxes, housing, and savings?
Universal Health Care has been my desire since I was twelve years old. With the entrenchment of power in D.C. and both parties beholden to their corporate contributors, I feel that this issue is probably dead in the water and anything we get out of Congress at this point is going to make it worse, not better. Again, I am sick at heart.
Medicare for All. Simple, clean, and would not require a 600-page bill.