Health Care Reform: The Morning After

I’m extremely pleased to have Barbara O’Brien, who has written on many progressive blogs (Crooks and Liars, Mahablog and AlterNet), offer to post on mine. I’m thrilled. Enjoy –

Many politicians and pundits warned us that the health care reform (HCR) legislation that just became law will destroy America. Government bureaucrats will take over health care decisions, we were told. The old and infirm would be hauled away by death panels. Everything about the way we receive our medical care will change, and change drastically, they said.

Medicare recipients have been frightened by stories that their benefits will be cut. Middle-age people are worried they will lose their jobs when the law’s dreaded regulations, or taxes, or maybe regulations with taxes, would destroy their employers’ businesses.

The truth is, very little will change for most people. If you were insured by employee benefits before HCR, you will be insured by exactly the same policy in exactly the same way after HCR. You will have access to the same doctors on the same terms. “Government bureaucrats” will no more be involved in your health care than they were before.

And the same is true of Medicare, which of course is a government program, although many of the people who opposed the HCR bill don’t seem to know that.

Here are the “cataclysmic” changes to health care that are now in effect, or which will go into effect within the next six months for people who are already in group insurance plans:

  • The law says you can’t lose your insurance coverage because you get sick. Before, in many states, if you were stricken with a severe illness such as mesothelioma cancer that would be expensive to treat, your insurer could use just about any excuse to cancel your coverage. That is over.
  • HCR has ended lifetime limits on coverage. As long as you are receiving medical care, your insurer pays the bills.
  • Your children can be covered on your existing policy until they are 26 years old.
  • In six months, insurers cannot refuse to insure people under the age of 19 because of “pre-existing conditions.” This provision will go into effect for everyone in 2014.

And if you are on Medicare, you will be asked to struggle with the following:

  • You get a free annual checkup.
  • The co-pays and deductibles on many preventive care services are eliminated.
  • If you are in the Medicare D “doughnut hole,”  you will get a $250 rebate check in a few weeks. The hole itself will be closed gradually and will be gone by 2020.

But what about all those terrible regulations and taxes that are about to drive businesses out of business? Um, there really isn’t much to report. Oh, wait, here’s one — a 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps will go into effect July 1. That’s about it.

However, beginning this year a tax credit will be available for some small businesses to help provide insurance coverage for employees.

Soon the politicians and pundits will start trying to frighten you about the provisions that will go into effect after this year. I assure you they are about as scary as the provisions that go into effect this year, but I will discuss them in a follow-up post.

Barbara O’Brien

0 Responses

  1. “The truth is, very little will change for most people”

    Really? Then why is this just such a 'vital' piece of legislation?

    We were told that 47 million American citizens desperately needed us to do this.

  2. Because you are intelligent you know that there are over 300 million in the US. the 35 million who will be a ton of help are just over 10% of the population. Probably another 30 – 40 million who will benefit from other aspects of the bill (I don't know the exact numbers I'm guessing).

  3. The new health care bill imposes huge taxes on many people's health benefits (of course, union members got a special interest exclusion because they supported Obama).

    I dont think that those people would agree that it will affect them 'very little'. The tax is up to 40% so could be thousands of dollars in extra taxes.

    If the goal of the bill is to make health insurance more affordable for everyone, why are peoples health benefits now going to be taxed for the first time ever?

    Those who dont buy health insurance will now be subject to massive fines and/or prison. I don't think those people will agree that it affects them 'very little'.

    Why are they suddenly criminals if they dont buy insurance?

    Businesses now face massive fines if they dont buy insurance for their employees. I doubt that those business owners would agree that it affects them 'very little'. These fines could drive them out of business and their employees would ALL lose their jobs.

    Some businesses may actually opt to pay the fines and drop coverage they currently offer to save money. I doubt that the employees who lose their coverage will agree that it affects them 'very little'.

  4. oh, joe.

    We have gone over and over your objections to healthcare. You didn't want to cover everyone. You didn't or don't care about folks who were denied coverage. The list is well documented. I have explained several times but you din't like my explanations.

    The bottomline is that you are unhappy with the healthcare bill. Sorry. In a democracy some people aren't going to be happy. When Bush invaded Iraq I said it was a mistake, when Reagan changed the rules for student loans and made it retroactive, I wasn't happy; when Reagan tried to balance the budget by decreasing reimbursement to MD's I wasn't happy; When Reagan and Bush cut taxes for the rich, I wasn't happy. All I could do was suck it up and try and get democrats elected.

    As usual i appreciate your thoughts. Your first chance to change things is coming is just 7 months.

  5. “You didn't want to cover everyone. You didn't or don't care about folks who were denied coverage. The list is well documented. I have explained several times but you din't like my explanations.”

    Your explanations are actually mischaracterizations.

    I do want everyone to have insurance. But you don't. You want to destroy the insurance industry and replace it with a government controlled bureaucracy.

    I want people to have many choices, including the choice NOT to buy insurance if THEY choose not to.

    You don't want people to have many choices. You want just ONE choice — yours for everybody.

    Your method, as I've said often, would give us a health care system with all the compassion of the IRS. And lo and behold, Obama chose the IRS to be the enforcers of his unconstitutional individual mandate.

    Buy insurance or face massive fines and jail. That's the Democratic solution.

  6. Thanks for letting us know about it, I read your post it is very informative. I mostly search topics related to health care issues & found the certified reseller of all scripts while I search these topics.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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