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Insurance doesn't mean health care - Comments (0)
Carole McWilliams - 4/18/2008
An estimated 47 million Americans don't have health insurance. An estimated 750,000 are in Colorado.
So guess what the favored state and national solution seems to be?
Easy. Pass a law that says you have to buy health insurance. If you are poor enough, the government might provide a subsidy to help you pay for it. If you're not quite poor enough ...
The state legislature is now considering a first step toward that, Senate Bill 217 which would solicit proposals from insurance companies for basic health care plans.
August 2009 is the deadline for submitting proposals. By 2010 you might be required to buy one of them if you aren't covered some other way.
I've stated on various occasions that private health insurance is a large part of the problem with our country's dysfunctional and extremely expensive health care system. Somehow a legislative or voter mandate is supposed to turn it into the solution.
My thought is that this ''solution'' will require a long list of mandates, not just the one. Such as:
- If individuals have to buy health insurance, companies cannot deny coverage for age or pre-existing conditions. Companies must cover the pre-existing conditions.
- Companies can't cancel your coverage when you get sick, or refuse to pay on a technicality.
- Premiums must be capped, including for people age 50 to 65, and people with pre-existing conditions.
Cap administrative costs, say at 5 percent. Currently one-fourth to one-third of health care spending goes to paper shufflers, bean counters, lawyers, and mega-buck CEOs.
I am guessing that insurance companies won't like these mandates, since they only want to cover people who are unlikely to need health care.
But from what I've read about SB 217, the only mandate would be on people to buy insurance, not on insurers.
We are told that an insurance mandate would be a lot cheaper for the government (ie. taxpayers). That's because the cost will be paid by the affected individuals, and I'll bet it could be several hundred dollars a month.
Will I be required to pay monthly for what I already have - basic health care? As an established patient with a health care provider in Durango, when I need a doctor I go see them and pay for it myself. They like that fine because they don't have to deal with an insurance company.
Conversely, there are locals who can't get basic health care because of a shortage of primary care providers. Some of them have insurance already. Will people be required to buy insurance for basic health care even if they can't find a doctor?
Having insurance is not the same as having health care! Having a basic care policy won't do much for you if you get a cancer diagnosis or are injured in a car crash.
Supporters of an insurance mandate remind us that we are mandated to buy car insurance. Right. I pay about $88 a month for fairly comprehensive coverage there. If someone wants to sell me health insurance for that price, I'm all ears. But I'm not holding my breath.
I'm seriously not happy that health care ''reform'' seems to mean protecting the health insurance industry, not people who need health care.
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