July 06, 2009
Health Reform Americans Need
So one thing I want to remind our on-the-fence Democratic Senators who are worried that their constituents would be unhappy if they vote for a workable healthcare plan this year: in 1994 Switzerland passed a healthcare referendum by a very narrow margin (less than 1%). By 2008, even those conservative politicians who fought bitterly against universal coverage agree they would never give up the benefits that comes from universal coverage.
It's time for Americans to have a system that works for America.
BTW: this Frontline program goes along very well with the piece Digby wrote about this weekend.
Frontline summarized the requirements for any universal healthcare systems they studied as:
1. Insurance companies must accept everyone. It can't make a profit on basic care.
2. Everyone is mandated to buy insurance, and the Government pays the premium for the poor.
3. Doctors and hospitals must accept one standard set of fixed prices.
It sure seems that we should be able to meet these basic requirements.
Posted by Mary at July 6, 2009 12:14 AM | Health/Medicine/Health Care
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If there's a mandate without a public option, then nothing useful will come out of this health care reform effort. Insurance companies are the problem. They won't stop being a problem just because someone passes a law. Laws have to be enforced, and as we've seen already, insurance companies aren't made to follow the laws we have now. They have too much money to buy favorable rulings from regulators and Congress with.
The Democrats who count just don't care. They are industry shills who get large political donations that are made possible by denial of health care... what's more important: reelection, or a few whiny dfhs?
Market-based policies are more cost effective for the government - and therefore the taxpayers- than publicly funded healthcare. According to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, January 2005, if every uninsured individual was covered by a government program such as Medicaid, the cost to the federal and state governments is approximately $2000 each. If, however, low-income and modest-income Americans could purchase their own health insurance by utilizing a $1000 tax credit, the federal government would save 50% of that money. With over 45 million uninsured Americans, that savings would be substantial indeed.
Market-based insurance would not only be more affordable health coverage, it would also provide consumers with more choice. Because savings come from a tax credit, the option to choose insurance companies, policies and doctors is left to the person who purchases the insurance, not a group of politicians. Health insurance needs vary widely from one individual to the next and having the ability to choose the options that work best for an individual's circumstances is fundamental to quality health care.
Several different market-based solutions could help low and modest-income individuals and families find affordable health coverage. Tax credits, tax deductions, health savings accounts and high-risk pools are all market-based options to make affordable medical insurance a reality for uninsured people who are working, but cannot afford medical insurance.
Tax credits allow people to keep more of their income on a monthly basis in their pay so the can purchase coverage. Because tax credits enable people to make their own choices of providers, plans and doctors, they are considered to be a preferred market-based solution for affordable health coverage. Tax credits enable working people to pay for their own health insurance without having to fall back on Medicare or other government health programs. Because a tax credit would cost only half the amount of Medicare per individual, the burden on all taxpayers is also reduced, saving everyone money.
Private health insurance can be affordable health coverage for every working American. By working with market-based solutions, health care reform can be a workable solution to the millions of Americans living in fear of a medical crisis because they have no medical insurance.
Is it Now or Never for Affordable Healthcare?
Thereís no doubt that affordable healthcare is a hot topic these days. From Washington, D.C. to rural America to every city across the country, Americans need affordable healthcare options. In fact, according to President Obama, healthcare reform could have a major impact on the economy as a whole but only if we act now.
Congress intends to create a healthcare reform bill to bring to the floor in July. President Obama urges the process on, believing that if it isn't tackled this year, it won't get done at all.
There is a big price tag on healthcare reform, however. Transforming the system could cost as much as $1 trillion dollars! Many Republicans in Congress are fighting hard against any type of reform that includes government programs providing more medical insurance options than they currently do through Medicare and Medicaid.
This type of public program could cost the government far more than it will save anyone. There is also discussion going on as to whether healthcare reforms will be paid for through higher taxes or through cutting existing programs.
On June 17, 2009, Congress met to consider the Presidentís healthcare reform bill and many are worried that things are moving too fast to make smart decisions. The costs of the proposed program havenít even been determined and Sen. Michael Enzi (R) of Wyoming wonders how a bill can be discussed and amended without any understanding of the costs "This bill costs too much, covers too few and will force about 10 million people to have to lose their employer-provided coverage." Enzi believes the current bill will not help the economy but would actually make things worse. "We need a bill that won't destroy the economy.Ē
Instead of looking at a public healthcare program that can wind up costing billions or even trillions of dollars, it makes sense to work with the insurance companies to find affordable healthcare solutions now. By letting states, small businesses and other people groups band together to access lower cost medical insurance to people who arenít currently eligible for group health insurance, more Americans could find affordable healthcare insurance now instead of waiting for the government to take on healthcare like some other nations have. Government provided healthcare does not encourage the high quality health care that Americans deserve and need.
Another proposed solution that could save the government money and help more Americans access affordable healthcare of their choice would allow those eligible for Medicare to receive an equivalent benefit they could use toward any private health insurance policy they choose.
These types of solutions toward affordable healthcare could save both the government and the citizens save money on their medical insurance without sacrificing quality care and choice. Congress could do well to consider all proposals- and their costs- before rushing into a decision that could wind up costing billions- even trillions- of dollars without giving Americans the best choices in medical insurance available.
Americans believe the most affordable health overage is prevention, according to a poll released by the Trust for Americaís Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Seventy percent of respondents to the poll support investing in community and nation-wide prevention plans as the best form of affordable healthcare Americans could find. As the debate over healthcare reform continues, more and more people agree that the best possible health care is preventing disease and injury in the first place.
Lowering health problems will lead to lower health coverage costs. BesthHealthcareRates.com offers these tips for preventing health problems and keeping affordable health coverage a priority for individuals and families.
1. Donít smoke. The most important thing you can do for your health is to stop smoking. It's also a great way to reduce your medical insurance costs. Although the number of smokers has reduced dramatically over recent years, smoking remains the number one preventable cause of death in the country. Smoking affects virtually every organ in your body, from your lungs to your heart to your circulation. Because smoking constricts your blood vessels, it severely limits the amount of oxygen your body receives, including your brain. Medical professionals agree unequivocally that quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to prevent disease and death. Because of the many health problems smoking causes, medical insurance premiums increase dramatically for smokers. Providing funding to smoking cessation programs is a preventative measure that will help make affordable health coverage possible.
2. Closely following smoking as a health threat, obesity is a national epidemic in America, making affordable health coverage difficult to provide. Obesity is one of the fastest growing health threats, leading to heart problems, diabetes and a host of other medical problems. Tackling obesity is a two-fold proposition including healthy eating habits and increasing physical activity. Rather than following fad diets or pre-packaged diet programs, funding programs to teach real-life nutritional meal preparation and eating habits can prevent and reverse obesity. Incorporating physical activity into your daily lifestyle is another terrific way to prevent and reduce obesity, which will help lead to affordable health coverage for American families.
3. Make use of free health screenings and services. Nearly every community has some health screening tools available for very low or no cost. It is especially important for people without medical insurance to take advantage of these resources. You can find free blood pressure screening machines in many pharmacies, grocery stores or even discount department stores. Keeping a regular eye on your blood pressure can help spot developing medical problems early, which can significantly decrease medical expenses and help you maintain affordable health coverage. You can also take advantage of vision and hearing screenings in many communities, as well as diabetes screenings. These tests can all help you detect problems at their earliest possible stages and save your health as well as your money.
We all need affordable medical insurance, but it is even more important to have good health. The best way to attain and maintain good health is to prevent disease and poor health habits every way we can. By not smoking, eating properly, incorporating regular exercise into our lives and keeping an eye on our health through free screenings, we can make affordable medical insurance a reality for our families.