I've been taking notes about the various provisions and trying to figure out how best to summarize them down from my dozens of pages. Today I came across this Fortune article, "5 freedoms you'd lose in health care reform," that does it best.
The president repeatedly says that you'll still be able to keep your current plan and doctor. But Shawn Tully, editor at large of Fortune and author of the piece, sees it differently:
"A close reading of the two main bills, one backed by Democrats in the House and the other issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy's Health committee, contradict the President's assurances. To be sure, it isn't easy to comb through their 2,000 pages of tortured legal language. But page by page, the bills reveal a web of restrictions, fines, and mandates that would radically change your health-care coverage."
The article then explains the five freedoms we'd all lose under these bills:
1. Freedom to choose what's in your plan
2. Freedom to be rewarded for healthy living, or pay your real costs
3. Freedom to choose high-deductible coverage
4. Freedom to keep your existing plan
5. Freedom to choose your doctors
As I was going through the House bill, I was struck by the lack of choice I would have under these proposals. I don't need well-baby care, childhood immunization and a host of other coverage that individuals with children need. I also don't need substance-abuse, fertilization or hair transplants (which is required to be covered by Connecticut law). But many of those services will be mandated by the federal government in order for a health insurance plan to be designated by the government as a 'Qualified Health Benefit Plan' (QHBP).
Then there is the community rating aspect of the bills. Under this concept, each person is charged a similar rate based upon what their community is like - not based upon themselves as individuals. Toledo has been ranked as having the highest adult smoking rate in the country of 31%, and was ranked the worst city for men by Men’s Health magazine. What do those rankings do for our 'community rating' and how will that impact individuals who don't smoke and who maintain their health? It won't matter - healthy people will pay based upon everyone else.
This also gives people with non-healthy lifestyles no incentive to change their ways. If you pay the same as a healthy person, why make sacrifices and change behaviors if there are no financial consequences for doing so?
***Sidenote: I continue to wonder why it is that we can't pattern health insurance against other types of insurance. Car insurance is available across state lines, has multiple types of offerings to meet the needs and budgets of anyone and the states have mandates with penalties for not having the coverage. I can purchase various types of life insurance policies and the fee is based upon a number of factors specific to me and the level of coverage I want. Why can't we at least consider a similar system for health insurance????
As with any bill in Congress, they are exemptions for some and not for others. Self-insured companies (most large corporations) get a five-year grace period during which they can continue to offer their current plans with no penalties. What most people don't realize is that the vast majority of municipal, county and state governments are self-insured. So the government workers would have their current benefits while the rest of the nation gets dumped into the government-dictated and, if the Congressional Budget Office is right, more costly plans. How convenient for government workers.
What consumers think
A recent Zogby/University of Texas poll on health care showed that 83.5% were satisfied with their health care. Of course, is the overwhelming majority are satisfied, why are there demands on Congress for 'reform'????
Interestingly, majorities believed that insurance rates should be the same for everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions (question 542 and 543), but a majority also believed that rates should be based on age and behavior (question 545 and 556).
Apparently, the contradiction in what these consumers want isn't recognized by the consumers. How can you be charged without regard to pre-existing conditions, but also be charged for behavior, like smoking, exercise, etc? Such contradictions may be why the congressional plans contain what they do.
Another interesting point of the poll is that roughly two-thirds agree that a federal health plan could undermine private insurance companies and that private insurance plans better than the government's should not be taxed. But these bills contain such provisions, because government can't give us something for nothing, no matter what the politicians claim and promise during their campaigns.
Considering the results of this poll, is it any wonder that Congress 'feels' the 'need' to do something and 'believes' the solution is to just let government control everything for us? According to this poll, we don't know what we want. So we'll just let the politicians decide - life is so much better when other people make our decisions for us, isn't it?
No wonder we live in an ever-increasing nanny state and are about to lose our health care 'freedoms' in addition to so many others.