Thursday, June 28, 2012
Health care... finally
It'll be nice to actually have health care. For those foreign readers here who don't understand how our American system works it's fairly simple. You work and many but not all employers here give you some type of medical coverage. Costs (premiums) can be totally covered by the employer or split with the worker paying part. The problem of late is that insurance companies and medical providers have been raising rates to nearly double in just the last few years. It was estimated that other countries were paying around $3600 per year per person for coverage while the U.S. was paying over double that amount. Many employers here were either making workers pay more of their share or dropping coverage altogether. Then there were the co pays and deductibles. You see a medical policy only covered 80% of the actual costs of care with the remaining left to the patient. With the deductible the first $100 to $150 of costs were left to the patient. Some policies have deductibles as high as $500 to $1000 meant only as catastrophic insurance it left the patient with a policy that he could afford to have but not use. Sounds like a neat form of extortion doesn't it? Now if you don't have a job in this country it's likely that you also don't have insurance either. The only way to attain coverage is to buy it yourself on the open market. Try doing that when the costs of a premium eats up well over half of an unemployment check.
So what do people in America do when they have no job and no coverage? They wait and hope to get over an illness because the first thing a doctors' office asks is if you have insurance. If you don't they want payment up front or doc's not in for you. With no other alternatives it's off to the emergency room at a local hospital because they can't turn you down. Unfortunately that sort of care is the most expensive and those costs are moved to the taxpayer. What about free clinics and charities you may ask? In a down economy many have closed or have a waiting list of months. So like it or not we all pay or paid for this dysfunctional system.
Yes I'll call it that because Ted should be given the most credit for this system change. He did after all spend most of his life trying to look out for the little guy and this Affordable Care Act (it's real name) was one of his last wishes.
What does this act really do for our system? I've heard so many out there with a knee jerk reaction when the topic comes up. Mostly negative from folks out here in cyberspace. But when I ask them if they've actually read the bill it's always a flat out no! Followed by "I don't need to read that because it came from Obama". Well actually it came from both sides of the aisle of congress and was examined by the CBO our budget office. And many of the ideas came from republicans including the individual mandate. Why was the bill so complicated and lengthy? Because we couldn't have a one size fits all system.
What does the bill do?
You've probably heard just some of the aspects but here's a general overview:
It spreads the costs to all Americans by requiring coverage for all (the mandate). That in itself should help lower costs with more money in the system. Even those on the lower end of the pay scale will contribute at least a little. That's fair.
*No more pre existing condition denials.
*Sons and daughters can stay on their parents plan until they're 26. (A good thing for parents with kids in college.)
*An insurance provider must pay out at least 80% of it's income in coverage.
*Plans are now portable. Going from one employer to another means no loss of coverage.
*The unemployed will now be able to afford coverage as they will now be subsidized.
*The doughnut hole in Medicare will now be filled.
*A focus on preventative care with all costs covered. (the expression an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure comes to mind)
It is a lengthy bill and many of the parts have little to do with your own particular situation but were necessary to make the system work. I'm sure there will be many tweaks to this legislation in the years to follow as we see just how things work out.
For those of you who actually want to know what this is really about I give you:
The Affordable Health Care Act