Fixed?

This post will make more sense if you begin by reading the first one in this series on the new healthcare law. Let’s look at how the new legislation addresses the problems with our current system of healthcare that I wrote about in the first post.

Uninsured people. – FIXED in 2014!

  • The uninsured and self-employed would be able to purchase insurance through state-based exchanges with subsidies available to individuals and families with income between the 133 percent and 400 percent of poverty level.
  • Separate exchanges would be created for small businesses to purchase coverage — effective 2014.
  • Expands Medicaid to include 133 percent of federal poverty level which is $29,327 for a family of four.
  • Requires states to expand Medicaid to include childless adults starting in 2014.
  • Federal Government pays 100 percent of costs for covering newly eligible individuals through 2016.

Pre-existing conditions. – FIXED in 2014!!

  • Six months after enactment, insurance companies could no longer deny children coverage based on a preexisting condition.
  • Starting in 2014, insurance companies cannot deny coverage to anyone with preexisting conditions.

Donut hole. – FIXED in 2014!

  • Closes the Medicare prescription drug “donut hole” by 2020. Seniors who hit the donut hole in 2010 will receive a $250 rebate.
  • Beginning in 2011, seniors in the gap will receive a 50 percent discount on brand name drugs. Oddly, the bill also includes $500 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade.

Malpractice lawsuits. – NOT FIXED!

Higher prices. – NOT FIXED!

  • No insurance competition across state lines
  • No malpractice reform
  • No incentives for preventative medicine
  • No reduced costs. The costs are shifted to employers and those with good health insurance plans.
    • There will be a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for families making more than $250,000 per year beginning 2012.
    • Beginning in 2018, insurance companies will pay a 40 percent excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” high-end insurance plans worth over $27,500 for families ($10,200 for individuals).

Issues

Common sense dictates a number of points that were completely lost in the legislative process and the resulting law.

Go after the low-hanging fruit. The things which were most obvious and the least expensive were not addressed, i.e., malpractice and tort reform, opening up state lines for competition, insurance co-ops, and preventative medicine.

Cultivate bipartisan support. It seems the height of foolishness to enact such sweeping legislations by such a slim partisan majority.

Purge the sweetheart deals. The final bill had some wonderful, special benefits for a few states and for unions. This was simply buying votes for the bill!

Change the process. We can surely do better than coming up with legislation that reflects the ideology of one political party, continues to benefit the insurance companies upon the backs of taxpayer, and was never well explained.

Get the priorities right. This was such obviously horrible timing to be raising taxes and expenses for businesses, that I am not sure what our politicians have been smoking. It seemed like a political power play. Everyone knows that our greatest need is job creation.

Do not confuse motives with reality. All of the main points above are things that are broken in our healthcare system (and there are even more), but fixing them is very costly. Is that a cost that the American taxpayer, businesses, and a hopelessly indebted government should take on right now? Have all of the options been explored? Why weren’t the simplest, most cost-effective measures enacted?

I am glad that I finally did a little research on the topic for my own understanding, but I wonder what you think.

Here is part 1.

This post was originally published April 6, 2010.

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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