Posted tagged ‘Insurance’

President Obama Joins the Health Care Reform Fray

February 24, 2010

I was quick to click the link in my reader when I saw it: US President Obama pushes to revive healthcare reform.  Interestingly, the alert was from my BBC feed, not my CNN feed. I did not find the article on the US news site until the next morning when I went looking for it (It wasn’t even one of the headlines. I had to scroll to find it buried in the Health section). Seems that the Brits understand the urgency of our crisis better than we do.

The president’s proposal comes just days before the Bipartisan Meeting on Health Reform that the president arranged for tomorrow, Thursday, February 25 at 10:00 AM EST. The meeting will be open to the press and will be streamed live at WhiteHouse.gov/live.

According to the BBC story, the highlights of Obama’s proposal are:

  • It gives state and federal government the authority to deny substantial premium increases, to limit them, and to demand rebates for consumers.
  • It requires most Americans to take out health insurance coverage and provides federal subsidies to help many people afford the premiums.
  • It prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to people with the dreaded “pre-existing condition” and also bars them from charging these people more.

According to the White House’s Website, Putting Americans In Control of Their Health Care, the proposal “… will make health care more affordable, make health insurers more accountable, expand health coverage to all Americans, and make the health system sustainable …”

Sounds good, no?

Well, maybe not to everyone. There has been some critical banter about the proposal and the bipartisan meeting lately, primarily from the Republican party. In particular, House Minority Leader John Boehner has been critical of the proposal because it is too short. At just eleven pages, the proposal is barely a fraction of the roughly 2,000 page bills that the House and Senate drafted. Interestingly, Boehner was also critical of the length of the House and Senate bills, stating that they were too long.

Republicans also seem reluctant to attend the bipartisan meeting, indicating in their discussions with the press that they fear the meeting is a political trap designed to make their health care proposals appear thin.

Additionally, many Republicans have asked the president to scrap the current House and Senate proposals and move forward into the bipartisan meeting with a blank slate. The president has said he would not do that. This leads his critics to argue that Obama is not sincere in his push to drive through a plausible solution.

Speaking of Putting Americans In Control of Their Health Care, the Website appears to be a pretty comprehensive collection of straight-forward information all dedicated to  the White House’s efforts to push through a meaningful health care reform bill. It is complete with the text of the president’s actual proposal, a list of Republican ideas that are included in the proposal, and a wealth of information about the bipartisan meeting. As I type this, the site is hosting a live streaming video chat with Nancy-Ann DeParle, Director of White House Office of Health Reform. The video chat addresses questions that members of the American public have raised about the president’s proposal. There is a wealth of information available on this site, and even some opportunities to interact. Pretty impressive.

Here’s hoping that the president is able to move things in the right direction. His proposal, unlike the House and Senate proposals, seems to actually address the needs of the US population in a clear and direct way. I will be keeping tabs on the bipartisan meeting. While I’m not all that optimistic, I am hopeful. My bank account can’t sustain a 47% increase in health care costs every year. And I’m tired of living with the what ifs — What if I lose my job (and consequently my insurance coverage)? What if my insurance rates skyrocket again next year? What if my insurance company denies my claim? What if my prior authorization request gets “lost in the mail” … again?

Mr. Obama, I’m pulling for you. We need this. All 23.6 million of us.

Resources

US President Obama pushes to revive healthcare reform from BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8528100.stm

White House unveils compromise health care bill from CNN, http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/02/22/obama.health.care/index.html?hpt=C2

Boehner: Obama’s Health Care Proposal Is Too Short from TPM, http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/02/boehner-obamas-health-care-proposal-is-too-short.php

Putting Americans In Control Of Their Health Care from the White House, http://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting

Full Text: Obama’s Health Care Proposal from Kaiser Health News, http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2010/February/22/Obama-Health-Care-Proposal.aspx?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+khn%2Fstories+%28Kaiser+Health+News+-+Stories%29

GOP skeptical of Obama’s health care summit from The Washington Times, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/feb/09/gop-wary-pitfalls-obamas-health-care-summit/

Top House Republicans throw cold water on health-care summit from The Washington Post’s 44 Politics and Policy, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/02/top-house-republicans-throw-co.html

Diabetes Statistics from the American Diabetes Association, http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/

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SWF seeks Male with Good PPO

February 2, 2010

Have you heard about Terri Carlson and her search for a soul mate?

According to her Website, Terri is 45 years old, recently divorced, and running out of COBRA coverage. Oh, and she is looking for a mate.

She readily admits that she does not care if you are fat, bald, old, or gray. All she wants is a man with a solid healthcare plan.

You see, Terri has a chronic genetic condition, C-4 complement deficiency, which qualifies as a “pre-existing condition.” As a result, she has been denied healthcare coverage, at any cost, by every health insurance provider.

Here is her YouTube video

Like many of us with a dreaded pre-existing condition, she lies awake at night wondering how she will cover her medical costs. Even under COBRA, she is spending roughly $600/month for her healthcare.

Reading a story like Terri’s really puts everything in perspective for me. Sure, my health insurance costs rose by 47% this year, but at least I am still covered. Terri is staring straight into the eyes of the health care monster. I bet she doesn’t sleep a wink.

Here’s hoping that Terri finds the perfect plan … er … man … before her COBRA coverage expires.

Resources

Insurance Rates … Up, Up, and Away

January 5, 2010

So my company sent a company-wide e-mail on December 22nd. It was a summary of the changes to our insurance plan for 2010. It was laced with phrases like “exciting changes,” and “choices,” and “highlights,” but even though the wrapping looked like  a shiny new Christmas present, it turned out to be a giant lump of coal.

If you have a chronic illness, I’m sure you know where this is going. The promised “choices” were nothing more than a disguise for a new ala carte plan which replaced our previous all-inclusive plan. Now I can “choose” one of three medical plans, one of two dental plans and a vision plan. In the past, I received all three for one lump sum. Now I pay for each component individually.

Let me be fair. My previous insurance coverage was generous by American standards. I have heard of better plans, but only for members of unions. I had a 90/10 plan and my premium was only $100/month for both my husband and me. That premium included medical, dental, and even vision coverage. Prescription drugs were not cheap, but they were reasonable. This package was one of the main reasons that I choose the job I am currently in. The insurance benefits far outweighed the higher salaries offered by other potential employees.

Even with this great coverage, though, I still faced ongoing expenses. I estimate that my routine medical and dental costs last year, including my premium, were a little over $2500.

This year, I will be forced to reduce my dental coverage and drop my vision coverage. I have run the numbers over and over again and I am astounded.  I am looking at a 47% increase in medical costs over last year! For the same exact services! And even with a cost of living increase, I am facing a reduction in my take home pay.

It feels like a swift punch to the stomach. What did I do to deserve this? I work hard and do a good job for my employer. I pay my taxes and bills on time and I am healthier than most of the people I know who do not have chronic health conditions. My annual review was positive, but I am being “rewarded” with a reduction in pay.  The whole thing just makes me sick and angry at the same time.

When will this nonsense end? I realize that my company is forced to incur more and more expense for health coverage and so must pass more of the cost on to me, but I also recognize that their eye is on the bottom line. I do not for a minute kid myself with the notion that they care more about my well-being than the bottom line in the ledger book.

I guess there is no easy answer here.  All I can say is that this really stinks. Certainly we can all agree that this system is broken and it is costing us all more money and stress than is necessary. It is times like these that I really miss my German insurance plan. And the peace-of-mind that came along with it.