color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Hey! Mr. President & Congress! Listen Up (Healthcare Forum)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hey! Mr. President & Congress! Listen Up (Healthcare Forum)

First, the big mistake in this "forum" stuff IS THAT YOU DID NOT INCLUDE CONSUMERS.

Since I wasn't invited, here's some of my thoughts.

1. If you want to immediately reduce the impact of health care costs, reduce -- and then eliminate - the threshold for tax deductibility of medical expenses. Not everyone -- in fact very few -- Americans have access to pre-tax Medical Expense Accounts. Why should only SOME citizens have access to tax-free money for medical expenses?? Let us deduct ALL of our medical expenses from our income. Yes, that will have an income consequence for the Feds, but if the goal is TO HELP AMERICANS AFFORD HEALTH CARE, this is step one.

2. Pres. Obama IS WRONG. The government does NOT have to legislate the minimum standards for health insurance. The government simply needs to require full disclosure and let the consumer choose. The government decided to protect investors this way when they required companies to include in their proxy statements and annual reports a STANDARD FOR DISCLOSURE. Companies are required to compare their performance to comparable companies in terms of return on investments and disclosure of compensation, etc.

Same thing would help ME -- as a CONSUMER -- to choose MY insurance and how much I want to pay for it. Pick the 10 most common and/or 10 most expensive health conditions and make the insurance companies tell me whether they cover it FULLY. Make every insurance company tell me IN READABLE TYPE what the lifetime limit on the policy is. Tell me how much of my premium is used to cover administrative costs -- including executive compensation.

Yes, let me shop for insurance anywhere in the country, but give me a way to compare the coverage AND LET ME CHOOSE. That's the American way. I don't need no stinkin' "protection" from the Feds. If a company covers two days for childbirth and that is disclosed when I buy the policy, that's it. Let ME decide what I want, when I want it and how much I'm willing to pay for it.

Let me choose the coverage I want -- like well-care and preventative care -- and eliminate certain coverages I don't need. I do not need Obstetrics coverage and I don't want to pay for it. I get the idea that this is part of spreading the risk & spreading the cost... but then do something to LIMIT my exposure -- like meaningful tort/litigation reform.

There should be two types of coverage: HEALTH coverage for well care and routine care and the hospitalization and catastrophic coverage -- for surgeries and long-term treatments. Now we don't have a choice -- these are all rolled in... separate them and let me shop separately. Maybe I want to cover my own routine care and only want catastrophic coverage? Let ME choose.

3. The high risk pool for those with pre-existing conditions. Yes, it's abhorrent... but if you require each health insurer to assume a certain number of those policies -- as they require auto insurers to do for high risk drivers -- then everyone in the U.S. will assume a fair portion of that risk. That's fair to me. No one gets dropped and no one is denied insurance and everyone assumes some of the risk.

4. Community-based health care. No one is talking about that. Where I live, there are two LARGE community health clinics. People who cannot afford (or choose NOT to buy health insurance) can use the community health clinics. What you pay is based on what you can afford. Many people who have insurance  also use the clinics. They are full service. They are principally funded by tax dollars but also by charitable contributions and donations of time from health care professionals and the community.

5. Fraud and waste. Exactly WHY does it take THIS health care proposal to address that?? If this is a problem, deal with it NOW. If you cannot agree on anything else, carve this out and JUST DO IT.

All of these should be separate pieces of legislation. If one works, great. If one doesn't, it gets dumped or tweaked.

If I hear one more person -- from the President to the Congresscritters tell me one more time that this is such a complicated issue -- implying that we are uninformed or too stupid to figure this stuff out -- I am going to shoot my television!!
So I watched the health care forum... mostly political theatre and posturing... but, Mr. President, besides the not-even-thinly-veiled threat that either the Republicans do it your way or you'll do it without them...  if you are the President of ALL the people, why did you only ask the Republicans if they could compromise?? Isn't the very definition of compromise for BOTH sides to give & take?

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At 2/25/2010 11:11 AM , Blogger Flag Gazer said...

Well said ---
and, as someone nearing retirement - I'm sick of paying for maternity and pediatricians too....

At 2/25/2010 11:37 AM , Blogger Kanani said...

This is really good, Lois!

I think also lowering the premiums for those who opt only for catastrophic care will help a great deal. There are many with PPO plans with a high (2500 or 5000) deductible that can barely pay those premiums.

The Obama plan is really dumb. It plays into the hands of the healthcare insurers who already are contracted for Medicaid and Medicare, and then in turn subcontract the care out through hospitals and insurers. This just adds one more layer to dip into.

But as much as I've written about health care contracting over on my other blog, the politicians seemed not aware or interested in the how insurers are the chief beneficiary through contracting.

At 2/25/2010 11:50 AM , Blogger maryk said...

Damn right Sissy!!!

At 2/26/2010 1:21 PM , Blogger hankram said...

Why should we listen to the GOP? All they do is lie and stuff like they did the 14 years before Obama.

At 2/26/2010 2:06 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

@hankram: what's the "we" shite kimosabe? are you in congress? are you teh one? & the republicans lie? that's the whole pot & kettle thing. at least the Republicans were BUSINESS people. the democrats are just lawyers. & career politicians. none of them ever actually worked for a living!

At 3/08/2010 10:57 AM , Blogger MeyerTied4Second said...

Can't really generalize here -- there are working Democrats & career politician Republicans. There are reasonable business people in both parties and idiots and slackers and lawyers in both parties. And the BUSINESS thing didn't really help us working people out now, did it? Some businesses may have done well with "business" people making decisons in the political arena but for the rest of us the economy was in the tank, the housing market was shot, serious unemployemnt, banks folding, investments/retirements halved or worse -- Don't know about you but I can honestly say that by late 2008, I was WAY worse off than I was 8 years earlier and so was most of the country. The slide was going on for some time & the "business" people weren't doing much to stop it that I could see.
As to healthcare reform:
In addition to the suggestions above -- LIMIT the profits that these companies make off their enrollees. As long as you allow people who's entire purpose of existence is to make money off the sick to control who gets healthcare, if they get healthcare, how much healthcare, how much they must pay for healthcare and how much they will pay to the healthcare providers, we'll never solve the problem. This includes the pharmaceutical and health equipment companies, too. That's allowing the fox to guard the chickenkoop!
The difficulty with getting these companies to tell you their numbers so you can make an informed decision to choose your health coverage is THEY LIE! Take the same set of numbers & it can be spun a gazillion ways to make you think they are providing their services at a reasonable cost. They're out there telling us right now that they only have a 5% profit margin but earned 4.7 BILLION dollars last year!(That's just Anthem -Wellpoint!) Of course, they doctored the profits to show less by "moving" million/billions to other subsidiaries & parent companies sheets. How much annual profit is enough? And at what cost to the rest of us?
This has been a long-term problem thru many Republican & Democratic administrations and needs to be resolved -- as a nurse, I can tell you it's heartbreaking and frustrating to see the results of decades of failure to address this. It literally costs lives! The next one could be yours. Time to stand up & say: We're not going to take this anymore.

At 3/08/2010 9:33 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

well everyone agrees SOMETHING s/b done -- but the current proposals COMPOUND the problems of access and cost containment -- they do not get to the HEART of the problems or fix them. as a nurse I'm sure you'll agree that adding MORE regulation at every level of care and establishing even MORE gov't agencies will only add cost & frustration to the process of getting care. one thing at a time & one expense at a time. we cannot afford to bankrupt the country with the current proposals.

At 3/25/2010 9:48 AM , Blogger Kanani said...

Medical clinics are businesses. They provide a livelihood for many within the local community. The less government intervention and control, the better.


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