Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why Healthcare Reform is a Good Thing

With the Republican Congress doing it's symbolic repeal of the health care reform yesterday, I thought I would take some time to talk about it, yet again. This time with headers!

What is in the health care reform law?

For a full list of all that is in the law, and to read the law itself please visit I'll just mention a few points that I think are most important.

- You and your kids can not be denied insurance if you have a pre-existing condition
- Your coverage cannot be taken away from you once you get sick
- There will no longer be a lifetime limit on your coverage, nor an annual limit
- Seniors in doughnut hole are covered
- Funding for education and training of more doctors and nurses
- Small businesses get tax breaks and subsidies to afford insurance for their employees, same for low income families
- Health care exchange to help you purchase insurance if your work doesn't provide it
- If you can't afford insurance, and don't qualify for the now expanded Medicaid you can either get an exemption or get the funds your employer has set aside for your insurance and use it to purchase cheaper insurance through the exchange

Why is health insurance going to be mandatory now?

I read a really interesting article about this actually that really made it clear to me why this very unpopular provision was added. While most Americans like other aspects of the bill (like being able to get coverage and keep it), they are not so pleased about the government 'telling them what to do'. The problem is that if you like all those other things, then you have to put up with the mandatory bit. In essence, the law is forcing health insurance companies to accept high risk low reward customers. In order for a health insurance to function much less turn a profit, the ratio of health to sick customers needs to be about 80 to 20. Now the new law raises the amount of sick people in the pool, and therefore it is equally necessary to raise the number of healthy individuals. A bunch of young (and usually healthy) people are added by the extending parent coverage to kids under 26. By mandating insurance for everyone else, the amount of healthy people in the pool is increased, allowing this whole thing to function.

Is the Affordable Care Act "job killing"?

Republicans claim that employers will not want to hire more people since they will have to provide insurance, which is an extra cost to them. It may be true that some won't. Some may make use of the tax breaks and subsidies mentioned above. Independent experts don't think it will kill jobs. Not to mention the 200,000 jobs that have already been added in the medical profession since the law was signed. So all in all, probably not job killing after all.

Is the Affordable Care Act "unconstitutional"?

This is something else that is interesting and new to me that I read today. Apparently back in 1798 the 5th Congress of these United States passed a bill that mandated health insurance for privately employed sailors. It was signed by President John Adams. So apparently a bunch of the founding fathers felt it was within their authority to mandate that workers in a private industry pay a percentage of their salary (1% at the time) to go to a government health insurance for when/if they got sick. The program is still around today and is called the "Public Health Service". Who knew? So if the founding fathers thought it was cool, I'm going to say it's constitutional.

Frankly, as I have mentioned many times before, what I would really like to see happen is a single insurance for all Americans from birth to death, a single payer, government run system. I can see how extra private insurance can be bought by those of us with funds for something above and beyond the government coverage, but I think that is the ultimate and most logical solution to all of this. It would be cheaper, more efficient, and everyone is covered. Problem solved.