From what I’ve seen, the people who are in the majority in Congress refuse to listen to the loyal opposition. They also refuse to listen to the people who elected them. Those right-wing organized mobs refuse to listen to the politicians, so why should the politicians listen to them. (Wait, do politicians ever listen to us?)
I doubt if they’d listen to me (especially after I’ve insulted them), but I’m going to jot down my ideas anyway.
In the first place, Congress seems to be totally ignoring a recent CNN poll that indicates eighty-four percent of Americans are happy with their current health care plan. That leaves a mere sixteen percent who are not. So, why do the professional politicians want to redo everything? I can’t help but believe it will somehow equate to extra dollars in their campaign coffers… or a large amount of cash will go straight into their personal pockets.
That’s the way professional politicians work. But let’s forget them for now and consider the following changes that might fix some problems.
First, let’s fix HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Currently, the only part of this act that is being implemented is the part about a patient’s privacy. Portability seems to simply be a word they used when naming the bill.
Portability, to me, means I can take it with me wherever I go. With health insurance, that is not at all true. If I move from Georgia to Iowa, I may not be able to keep my same insurance. I may have to drop my first insurer and seek out a new program. That becomes a really bad problem if I have a pre-existing condition that the new insurers don’t want to pay for.
Let’s take a realistic look at the pre-existing condition situation. If you were selling automobile insurance, would you want to take on a new customer simply so you could pay to repair a car that was in a bad wreck the day before the customer signed up? Would you want to insure a home after it had burned to the ground?
If you look at pre-existing conditions realistically, you can’t blame those greedy evil insurance companies for refusing to insure someone with serious health problems… unless the patient buys the policy prior to discovering the chronic illness.
If a patient is already insured when the devastating health issue is discovered, the Federal Government should make it unlawful for that insurance company to drop the patient. The Feds should insist that the patient gets every medical procedure necessary to maintain reasonable health for as long as possible.
If insurance companies are forced to take on new customers with expensive health problems, they would have to charge those people much more… making it too expensive for the patient. The only other option would be to raise the rates for everyone else.
Of course, the government could simply force them to cover the patient’s expenses without doing anything else. Eventually the company would have to declare bankruptcy. Then, they could go out of business… or get some taxpayer money to bail them out.
Insurance companies and the people who buy the policies (health, auto, home, long term care – every type of insurance) are gamblers. If I buy a million dollar life insurance policy, I’m betting that I’m going to die long before I pay all the premiums. The insurance company is gambling that I’m going to live long enough to pay at least most of the premiums and they can make extra money by investing the cash from my premiums in stocks and bonds.
If I have six months to live and want to pay a few thousand dollars for a million dollar life insurance policy, the insurer would have to be totally out of his or her mind to sell it to me.
So, people with pre-existing conditions should be able to keep the policy they currently have and switch to another insurer if they cannot stay with their initial company (if they are moving to another state and we haven’t yet solved the portability issue.)
If a person is uninsured and develops a chronic illness, we, as a nation, have two choices. We can say, “Sorry pal, you should have bought a policy.” Or, we can do the compassionate thing and let tax dollars be used. While I would’ve preferred the person buy a policy before the problem arose, I think spending tax dollars to make life easier for that person is a legitimate use of my money.
The uninsured person who needs to see a doctor for normal maladies can go ahead and pay for the visits and medication on his or her own. If the patient can’t afford it, he or she can ask a charitable group to help, or spend some time at a medical facility working off the debt.
Finally, I’d encourage (but not force) every insurance company to provide plans with high deductibles and Health Savings Accounts.
Health Savings Accounts are similar to 401-K accounts. In some cases, employers make contributions and the employee can add to the total through payroll deductions. As long as the money is used for medical expenses, it is tax free.
The high deductibles and Health Savings Accounts put a great deal of accountability on the patient. Medical expenses are watched much more closely and patients are encouraged to shop around to find less expensive care.
If patients shop around, they force medical facilities and doctors to be more aware of competition. This can cause prices to drop… as can the portability of policies.
One other thought, portability could open up a new industry – consolidators for health care. The large majority of businesses are open to giving quantity discounts. An individual trying to buy a policy from Blue Cross/Blue Shield might get a better price if he or she enlisted another hundred individuals to contact Blue Cross/Blue Shield together. Consolidators would do for people looking for medical insurance what they’ve done for people looking for airline tickets.
There are any number of possibilities if we allow the free market and competition to work for us.
Should the Feds leave well enough alone? Not at all. There are a number of regulations they could put into place to enforce portability. They could also draw up some regulations that would force insurers to make policies more understandable and EQUAL. Common people should be able to look at the offerings of competing companies and compare apples to apples. They can then make their decision based on the cost of the policy.
This last step would greatly reduce the costs of medical insurance.
That’s some of my thoughts. Will President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid listen? Probaly no more than George Bush, and his power brokers. However, we, the people need to continue shouting until the professional politicians finally recognize that we are talking to them.