Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's not "radical reform" but it's major

  • If you are "high risk" or have a "preexisting condition," you will soon be able to buy health insurance.
  • If you develop cancer or another health problem, your health insurance will no longer be able to drop your coverage because they don't want to pay for your treatment. (How was that allowed before?!)
  • If you have develop an expensive problem, your insurance will no longer be able to stop paying for your medical care after you hit your annual or lifetime "cap."
  • Kids can be covered under their parents' health insurance plans up to age 26 if they so choose.
  • 32 million American who are not currently covered will be covered.
  • Insurance companies will be held accountable so they can't come between patients and their doctors.

This is not government-run healthcare. It is regulation like we have in many other industries. Medical insurance companies must now follow certain ethical business practices. We ask the same of our food production companies, our car makers, our producers of high chairs and cribs. Why not of those who control our access to health: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

Thank you.

The President says:
"For the first time in our nation's history, Congress has passed comprehensive health care reform. America waited a hundred years and fought for decades to reach this moment. Tonight, thanks to you, we are finally here.

Consider the staggering scope of what you have just accomplished:

Because of you, every American will finally be guaranteed high quality, affordable health care coverage.

Every American will be covered under the toughest patient protections in history. Arbitrary premium hikes, insurance cancellations, and discrimination against pre-existing conditions will now be gone forever.

And we'll finally start reducing the cost of care -- creating millions of jobs, preventing families and businesses from plunging into bankruptcy, and removing over a trillion dollars of debt from the backs of our children.

But the victory that matters most tonight goes beyond the laws and far past the numbers.

It is the peace of mind enjoyed by every American, no longer one injury or illness away from catastrophe.

It is the workers and entrepreneurs who are now freed to pursue their slice of the American dream without fear of losing coverage or facing a crippling bill.

And it is the immeasurable joy of families in every part of this great nation, living happier, healthier lives together because they can finally receive the vital care they need.

This is what change looks like.

My gratitude tonight is profound. I am thankful for those in past generations whose heroic efforts brought this great goal within reach for our times. I am thankful for the members of Congress whose months of effort and brave votes made it possible to take this final step. But most of all, I am thankful for you.

This day is not the end of this journey. Much hard work remains, and we have a solemn responsibility to do it right. But we can face that work together with the confidence of those who have moved mountains.

Our journey began three years ago, driven by a shared belief that fundamental change is indeed still possible. We have worked hard together every day since to deliver on that belief.

We have shared moments of tremendous hope, and we've faced setbacks and doubt. We have all been forced to ask if our politics had simply become too polarized and too short-sighted to meet the pressing challenges of our time. This struggle became a test of whether the American people could still rally together when the cause was right -- and actually create the change we believe in.

Tonight, thanks to your mighty efforts, the answer is indisputable: Yes we can.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama


Brian said...

If you develop cancer or another health problem, your health insurance will no longer be able to drop your coverage because they don't want to pay for your treatment. (How was that allowed before?!)

It's called "rescission." Insurers generally cannot just discontinue coverage when you become expensive; you have a contract preventing that. What they (some of them) would do instead is find a reason that you were ineligible to have coverage in the first place, voiding the contract retroactively.

Such a company would scrutinize all your records, and if they went back far enough and read enough into the details, they could probably name some preexisting condition that you didn't list on your enrollment forms.

It wouldn't even have to be remotely relevant to your new problem. If you once saw a dermatologist for acne, or listed your weight wrong on the original paperwork, you could be retroactively denied coverage for cancer treatment. (That's what happened to this lady.)

I'm posting in the past tense because, hopefully, this kind of thing will be ending. It seems this bill is intended to stop insurers from rescinding coverage except in cases of fraud.

RobMonroe said...


Sarahlynn said...

Brian, that sounds like what happened to Obama's mother:

ccw said...

I love that we will no longer have to choose a plan based on whether or not I can be covered. Mr. MFBA chose his current job for the insurance. I that had not been a factor he would have gone with the job he would have liked more that was paying $15,000 more a year.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure where the affordable aspect comes in as far as good insurance is concerned. The policy we have now is being dropped and the next best thing will cost us more in premiums and out of pocket expenses. I just have a difficult time believing that truly good insurance will be affordable. I have a feeling it will be more like it's better than nothing and while that's true the debt that remains from bills is a killer.

Sarahlynn said...

Yep. We, too, have a "pre-existing condition" at our house and would be nearly uninsurable without employer-subsidized health insurance. At some point I think we'd both love to be self-employed . . . but not without universal health care.

My younger sister had a tough conversation with her oncologist once where she asked if she could have follow-up MRIs annually instead of quarterly a few years after treatment because her "co-pay" for each post-tumor-resection MRI was $1200. Who can afford that?

Carmie said...

I liked the way you compared health care regulations to food/drug regulations. You are right, this isn't government-run health care. A small but vocal minority would have you think the world is ending.

Joann said...

I am sorry that we have to deal with profit making middle men at all, but this is a start.

Sarahlynn said...

Carmie, I know there are those who think the government should not regulate ANYthing, but they are not the majority. Extremely vocal and proficient at spin, but a small minority nonetheless.

Joann, agreed. Heard an interview with the CEO of a major HMO this morning, talking about how minuscule profits are in their industry and I can't help thinking . . . then what's with the the lavish corporate buildings and ridiculous salaries?

Annie said...

I think the reforms in America right now are incredibly exciting.

Might be the Canadian in me haha.

flatflo said...

I was so glad this passed, even if it didn't go quite as far as I would've wished. But I understand politics necessitated a trimming back of the government option and other "radical" aspects for the sake of compromise.

Now I just wish some of those righties would stop predicting the end of the world. This plan may some companies pay more in premiums that they may pass along or cut some jobs. But doesn't the fact that not just those privileged to work for a medium to large company will have access to decent healthcare make up for that?

I had to schedule a carpal tunnel nerve conduction test yesterday, and was worried when they started asking how long I had had the pain, when did my doctor order the test, when my coverage started. Too bad the pre-existing condition clause only applies to kids, if I remember correctly.

(sorry for the long comment, but this has been on my mind, too)

Sarahlynn said...

Annie, another Canadian friend of mine said something similar, which surprised me. I thought our neighbors to the north would be more, "Yeah, it's about time!"

Flatflo, agreed on all counts, and really hoping the "pre-existing condition" thing doesn't bite you on this one. (It's my understanding that it will apply to adults, but not for a few more years. What sense does that make? I mean practical sense rather than "political sense.")