I spoke on the national public affairs show, The Takeway yesterday in anticipation of Obama’s address to Congress and the nation. I have many misgivings about this plan because first and foremost it leaves the insurance companies as recipients of our money. What exactly does a subsidized health care plan mean? I discussed that I wanted to hear about Single Payer being put back on the table and coverage as good as those members of Congress get.
When I was employed by a well-financed company the insurance plan offered was pretty good. The premium was 100% employer paid but I was still responsible for annual deductibles, co-payments and other incidentals. It was not cheap and I still tried to find ways to reduce my costs for some things. Typically coverage is divided by major medical, dental, vision and prescriptions. As anyone with insurance knows there’s a lot you may get but there’s even more that you don’t.
I was fortunate to not have any pre-existing conditions or denial of claims (except for one that was due to the error of the medical office). I had to have a surgical procedure that resulted in a $32,000 bill of which I had to pay $1000. Relief – but $32K! Looking at the itemized bill to ensure I wasn’t overcharged I found out where the overinflated prices come from. $27 for every pill administered during my stay. A $425 charge for the sheets on the hospital bed – no they weren’t new and I didn’t get to take them home either.
This is why people go bankrupt trying to pay for their care. I was very disheartened to read about the soldier who’d reenlisted to keep his family covered only to lose his life in Iraq. Tort reform for medical malpractice is an absolute must as well. The insurance companies are gouging everyone involved from all ends!
When I left that position and had to foot the bill myself through COBRA I found out my insurance was a lot more expensive than I’d calculated. Adding up the various fees my insurance averaged $700. That was single coverage – not a family plan. It’s a mortgage payment for some people. I figured I seek out an alternative and dropped it. I was very happy when Mayor Gavin Newsom implemented the San Francisco Health Plan that would provide basic coverage. States also tend to cover children through SCHIP, but with the state of the economy have been slashing funding.
Many have praised the President’s plan especially with the promise of guaranteed coverage, but color me skeptical. At least I didn’t make myself a national laughingstock like South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson who had the nerve to call Obama a liar on live television. I mean…wow. His house.gov page has crashed. What about Eric Cantor thumbing his Blackberry? It’s not the first time he’s done this either. Why are these people STILL in office? I am very critical of the President lately but it’s because I want the promise he represents to actually come to fruition. That level of disrespect and vitriol is just ridiculous.
On the other hand I don’t want my emotions played with or to sold a bill of fake goods. I need to SEE this plan in action to know whether it actually works. I want mental health services that offers more than 5-10 cursory visits with a therapist. I want acupuncture and chiropractic. I don’t want to subsidize the insurance companies I want actual medical services. I liked the fact he said preventative care would be automatically covered. I don’t really like the idea of individuals being fined if they don’t have coverage. There are going to be plenty of people out of work or underemployed whose cost of living expenses just won’t allow for any fees despite what this is supposed to do. Yet I do like the idea of straight accountability across the board for individuals as well as companies. We’ll see.
I’m being cautiously optimistic and actively getting my ducks in a row regardless of what these politicians do – or don’t do. Obama is notorious for dragging his feet and waiting too long to respond to a crisis only to give a great speech. It’s like riding a rollercoaster – but it’s not amusing because people’s lives are at stake. If the non-denial of coverage that insurers pull on so many unsuspecting people is actually banned that will be huge. What will the cost be for that though since the restrictions under a Single Payer won’t be implemented? Anything can happen between today and 2013.
**I’ll be speaking on The Takeaway again for a follow-up interview this morning at 7 a.m. Click here to listen.