Think you have health insurance? Wrong


Baseline Scenario lays out the facts: People fear government reform of health care because they think it will interfere with their own health insurance.  Such people need to understand that they don’t have health insurance, and a broader government plan is the only saftey net they have to protect them from going naked against major health expenses.

Right now, it appears that the biggest barrier to health care reform is people who think that it will hurt them. According to a New York Times poll, “69 percent of respondents in the poll said they were concerned that the quality of their own care would decline if the government created a program that covers everyone.” Since most Americans currently have health insurance, they see reform as a poverty program – something that helps poor people and hurts them. If that’s what you think, then this post is for you.

You do not have health insurance. Let me repeat that. You do not have health insurance.

Just one more point in a series of misconceptions, misperceptions, and unwarranted listening to false claims about health care and legislation designed to save our tails.  James Kwak and others at The Baseline Scenario do a good job explaining economics in the U.S. today.  In this piece he makes the point that in terms of health care, we are all among “the poor” (save for those few of you who make more than $1 million a year and have done for the past decade).

Ask not for whom the health insurance reform bill tolls; it tolls for you.

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10 Responses to Think you have health insurance? Wrong

  1. James Kessler says:

    Donna, we’ve been considering how to reform health care for 20 years. Exactly how much longer would you like to take?

    And as I pointed out, private health insurers operate in Canada. Noone here, Donna, isn’t a capitalist. To paraphrase Winston Churchill “Capitalism is the worst form of economy..except all the rest.” But that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. And that doesn’t mean we let companies run roughshod over people willy nilly and that’s what the insurance companies are doing.

    But question..if you’re a capitalist what’s your problem with insurance companies having competition? Isn’t that the supposed reason for the existance of private schools, home schooling and such? To provide competition, and thus improve, the public schools?

    Or is this a case of “Well I like it that way..but I don’t like it this other way.”?

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  2. James Kessler says:

    Ed, might I suggest linking that email from the American Family Association perhaps? Would show how far down the rabbit hole some of the right wing has gone down the hole.

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Donna, when I staffed the (then) Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, the health function was a full committee issue (Orrin Hatch did that because he wanted to honcho health, but committee chairs could not also be subcommittee chairs — so we had no health subcommittee).

    Let me assure you that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds of volumes of hearings on these issues from the years I was there, 1981-1985. Many of the problems you highlighted before are reauthorizations of programs started then, and many are reauthorizations of programs that were several decades old when we worked them.

    Our publications guy, Paul Hill, once let me into the attic where the back copies of published hearing transcripts were kept, the stock from which he answered requests for such things. That afternoon we traced concerns for health coverage back well into the 1930s, and my recollection is we found a hearing titled something like “Physician shortages” from the 1920s — exactly the same title as a hearing we had coming up, 50 years later.

    The problems are studied to death. We’re not familiar? Get to a Government Depository Library, one that takes all pubications, and spend a few months reading the hearings on any health issue you choose (there is nothing new under the sun, someone said).

    There is nothing in H.R. 3200 which has not been tried and found successful, either nationally in the U.S., in large states, or in the case of a tiny minority of things not already fully piloted here, in other nations.

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  4. Donna B. says:

    Ed, I was in the odd (for me) position today of being in the company of hospital administrators and health care providers. After talking with them for almost 2 hours, I came away feeling very concerned for the future of health care.

    While I agree that things need to change, I do not think that a massive overhaul is appropriate right now, because I don’t think we’ve given enough attention to identifying the problems. How sure are we of what works and what doesn’t?

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    Barbara, that’s a rational concern about how hospitals, and doctors, are paid — but it’s not a valid complaint against a government plan compared to private insurance. Private plans do similarly odd, seemingly irrational things in compensation — refusing to pay for an MRI or CAT scan instead of exploratory surgery, for example. If an appendectomy turns out to be unneeded, the organ is removed anyway once a person is cut open, and the insurance company pays. If a CAT scan shows no need for removal, then the insurance companies say there’s nothing to pay, no reason.

    For every governmental inanity, there are a dozen in the private companies.

    These problems get at the issue of cost shifting, too.

    Doing nothing has allowed these problems to fester for 40 years. If we do nothing again, it will only get worse — as it did after the failures to reform health care in 1968, and 1994, to pick two occasions.

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  6. Donna B. says:

    I was frankly appalled at what I learned today about how Medicare pays hospitals. If that’s what the health care reform bill is about then it’s a no go for me.

    Yes, I’m a conservative and a capitalist and I guess that makes me scum… but when a hospital is paid for treating an asthma patient (because that was the admitting diagnosis) even when that patient ended up having open heart surgery… well, that it not going to keep hospitals in business, is it?

    That is an extreme example, of course. What I’m not sure of is that there are cases with an admitting diagnosis of heart disease that turn out to be asthma to offset it. I think that’s highly unlikely.

    It really won’t matter if everyone has insurance if hospitals can’t afford to stay in business will it?

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  7. James Kessler says:

    Several Republicans, John, have said that Obama’s plan would reduce insurance costs by 20-30%.

    Tell me…wouldn’t you like to spend less money on health insurance?

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  8. James Kessler says:

    It says nothing about muscling out private insurance, John. And if private insurance companies can operate in Canada and apparently make a profit there then what makes you think they can’t do it here?

    50 million people are without insurance, John. 5 million have lost their insurance in the last year. More will continue to lose their insurance when they lose their jobs. And others will be stuck choosing between paying for food and housing or their health care. And in the end people will die for lack of insurance..people are dying for it.

    Unless you are willing to get the insurance companies to fix what they do wrong, to spend the 1.4 million dollars a day they spend lobbying, to spend the 540 million dollars they’ve spent lobbying in the last decade to instead use it to insure those that need it then you are part of the problem and have no business whining about anything.

    And you don’t get to say that the Democrats are trying to muscle out the insurance companies because gee…somehow the insurance companies have managed to compete against government run insurance up to this point in this country. Or what do you think Medicare and Medicaid are?

    God help you, John, if you lose your insurance or if a loved one of yours does. Because why should the rest of us help you in that situation if you’re playing this stupid “I got mine, **** you.” now?

    And why should the Democrats try for compromise with the Republicans when the Republicans are the whores of the insurance companies and aren’t trying to fix the problem?

    Sorry, John, you like Lady are on the wrong side politically and morally.

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  9. Ed Darrell says:

    That provision establishes a floor. It sets a basement-level standard for insurance. If private insurance companies can’t meet that level, they deserve to be out of business, on moral reasons alone.

    That provision says you may not be enrolled in a sub-standard health care plan after the operative date, and that insurance companies cannot avoid this provision by claiming someone is grandfathered into a substandard plan by prior enrollment.

    So, as President Obama explains, this does not muscle out any insurance company. If they can’t compete with the government — especially after jumping up and down about the inefficiencies of government plans and how they could never be as good AND as cheap as a private plan — they can’t enroll people and overcharge them for services, or charge them for services the plan doesn’t deliver.

    That’s called good, ethical, business. Why in the world would you want to preserve bad, unethical business?

    Here’s the provision:

    SEC. 102. PROTECTING THE CHOICE TO KEEP CURRENT COVERAGE.

    (a) GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED. — Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ”grandfathered health insurance coverage” means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 [2013] if the following conditions are met:

    (1) LIMITATION ON NEW ENROLLMENT. —

    (A) IN GENERAL. — Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.

    (B) DEPENDENT COVERAGE PERMITTED. — Subparagraph (A) shall not affect the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an individual who is covered as of such first day.

    Please note that Section 102 does NOT say it will muscle out private insurance. There is no ban on private carriers enrolling new clients. Private insurers will be encouraged to enroll new clients — but they may not overcharge new clients for health insurance.

    Cory Andrews explains it at Daily Kos (not exactly a friend to Obama or the plan):

    If you actually read the section you’ll notice that it only outlaws individuals from receiving “grandfathered health insurance coverage,” which is coverage that does not meet the provisions of affordability and reliability laid out later in the bill, after the legislation goes into effect. If someone has health care, they can keep it. If not, they can utilize the health-care exchange program where they have the option to choose between private and public plans.

    Of course none of this really matters. No one gives a s–t that the President has consistently said he would not pass legislation that eliminated private insurance. No one gives a s–t that they are lying, not misleading, lying to the public to earn cheap political points. The only thing that matters anymore is that the president was immediately unfamiliar with a particular subsection of the bill.

    Gone from the discussion about health care are the millions and millions of American’s who will suffer and die from treatable illnesses if health care fails. America is becoming distracted. The debate is no longer about whether or not these millions of Americans that desperately need help will receive any, but rather about whether there is even the teeniest-tiniest chance that helping these people could adversely effect a portion of the population that has been enjoying their position at the top for decades.

    But, it is easier to flash “March Toward Socialism” and “Liberal Fascism” across a screen than it is to flash the actual TEXT of the bill in question. So, I guess I understand. Reading is hard.

    actnjohn, are you in favor of leaving 50 million people without health care?

    Are you in favor of leaving them without access to health care despite the fact that you and I are already paying for it — $300 billion a year — even though they don’t get it?

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  10. actnjohn says:

    The problem here, is the plan itself, in Section 102 outlines EXACTLY how this plan will muscle out private insurance. Private carriers will not be able to enroll new clients unless they offer the same coverage as the government, they will not be able to change their benefits, costs, or policies, and if they fail to comply within 5 years, they lose their license. THAT is why we do not want this plan. READ THE BILL.

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