Do the math on health care reform

Printer-friendly versionSend to friendI have a math question to pose for all those congressmen and senators who cannot seem to find common ground on health care reform. It is a word problem — the kind you used to hate back in high school algebra class. Here it is: I’m 59-years-old. My plan was to semi-retire, working part-time as a newspaper reporter, for at least another half-dozen years. That got derailed in April, when the newspaper company laid me off. Subsequently, my income has decreased by about 95 percent. My husband, 61, is retired from his state job, but works part-time for the town of Eagle. The town has frozen wages, in the face of the current economy, so his income will not be changing in the coming year. We’re several years away from qualifying for Medicare. We just got a notice from our health insurance company that our premiums will be increasing by 24 percent for next year. An extra $500 has been added to the deductible. You do the math. We will be paying more, and earning considerably less. We don’t qualify for employer health insurance benefits. We are self-insured, which means an expensive monthly premium (more than our home mortgage payment), and a high deductible. Our insurance is far from a “Cadillac” plan. Keeping with the car metaphor, our present health care program is more like the AMC Gremlin plan. (We got the rude awakening when we first became self-insured. The price of a three-months supply of a prescription medication jumped from the $50 I paid while insured by my employer to $260.) We are counting on those elected officials in Washington to get a handle on the health care situation. We need more efficiency in the health care system, and the spiraling costs need to be brought under control. A public option would make those profit-happy insurance companies sit up and take notice. We fully realize that despite the growing cost to us, we’re much better off than the many people in this valley who can’t afford insurance at all. But from a personal viewpoint, the question comes down to this math formula:

Unemployment + wage freeze + insurance premium increase =

Need for  health care reform.  Now.

Comments

Reply to Kathy Heicher: From

Reply to Kathy Heicher: From Vail to where you live there are 500+ families with net worth more than $5 million dollars. Perhaps the whole healthcare debate is really a distribution of income thing? Sam Veneer

And one more thing... One of

And one more thing... One of the reasons that people tolerate socialized care in other countries, is that our system still produces new technologies and innovation, that they can use when they come here to get treated. If we governmentalize our system, it will hurt the health of the world. Many other countries can afford socialized medicine because we fund the research and development of medicine and medical procedures for much of the world.

If we really want lower

If we really want lower health care costs, we need LESS health insurance, not more. The spiraling costs are caused by people not paying the bill for the services they are receiving. Whenever someone else is paying the bill, people don't pay attention to what things cost. As long as some insurance company is paying for Joe's doctor visit, he doesn't know the total cost, just what he has to pay. And we need to get people talking about the same thing. Health care does not equal health insurance; health insurance reform does not equal health care reform. Everyone in this country has access to health care, even though they may not have health insurance. And these two terms have been purposely used in place of the other to muddy the debate. If you want to lower costs have more people directly pay for the services they receive. Most people should not use insurance for a doctor's visit for a cold and some basic medicine, but so many do, and this is why costs keep rising. And that's not health insurance, that's a health care payment plan. Another problem is too many people just want me to pay for their health care. If you have an ipod, an iphone, cable, internet, a new car, new clothes (like so many of the people who can't "afford" insurance) you don't need government to pay for your care or insurance, you need to re-organize your priorties.

Two words that will really

Two words that will really impact healthcare costs. PREVENTATIVE CARE. Government can't fix this, it's an individual decision. Why should a thirty year old otherwise healthy person spend 20+ days in the ICU on a ventilator and heavily sedated for Acute Respiratory Distress when they could have gone to the doctor when they first had an infection and taken antibiotics and been well in 5-7 days? That is personal responsibility. That is individual impact on healthcare reform. Don't rack up tens of thousands of dollars of avoidable health care costs by trying to avoid spending a couple hundred. Be smart about things. Don't avoid dental cleanings for years only to end up requiring $1000 worth of fillings at once. It just doesn't make sense. As the old saying goes...A stitch in time saves nine.

Hmmm, not sure about the

Hmmm, not sure about the limit on lawyer compensation for medical lawsuits, but not for patients. Emotional, psychological, punitive damages, etc make up the largest part of these lawsuits and consist of a number plucked out of thin air and usually are always in the millions. Want one reason your hospital bill is so big? The hospital had to pay out 10 million dollars in emotional damages when someone's baby was born with complications that had nothing to do with the hospital. Then the next time you went to the hospital you had to pay $500-$1500 extra dollars to cover those and other losses the hospital incurred. Then you limit what they can charge and all of a sudden you have to drive two counties away to even get to a hospital, and you have to wait 8 hours in the ER before they can find you a bed. Healthcare reform DOES need to happen, but so does Washington reform. I say we vote out EVERY incumbent and start fresh there as well.

Here's the math. You are

Here's the math. You are older and insurance costs more. Bring in Obama's healthcare and your insurance rate will be reduced while younger more healthy citizens will have to pay more. The bad news for you though is that as you earn more money your subsidy will diminish and if you ever get another full-time job you likley will pay far more than you are now and it could even be taxed if you are paid by your employer. The lesson..don't work too hard and the government will provide you some relief.

Well my fellow Americans.

Well my fellow Americans. Ummm ya having some problems ha? Let's forget this Democrat/Republican~Left Right ****. It's people. We are all people. I live in another country (I'm American) where I have the "Commie"~ "Socialized" health care many are fearing is going to take over the USA. Well, I pay about $100.00 a month and get national healthcare. Oh, I went to the dentist last month and got a filling...Really expensive...$10.00. America is a greedy money oriented society and you (the people) have to change and stop this old "Commie" thinking...My best to you.

Big government, big labor

Big government, big labor (unions), greedy corrupt career politicians, an under-informed poorly educated electorate who allow themselves to be persuaded by pandering politicos. These are the reasons our health care system as well as virtually every other aspect of American society is in trouble. Wake up America. The government is not the answer. Every time that we allow the government to "fix" one problem they create 10 more. People must return to the values self reliance. Government can't be Robin Hood. We must take care of our own families, and if help is needed we should look to churches and charities, who are funded by people who choose to give, of there own free will, not to government programs that are funded by forced taxation so that politicians can pander more to the recipients of aid.

The Reform Putsch is nothing

The Reform Putsch is nothing but an attempt to control another 17"% of our economy. Single Payer is a myth--You All will pay it---You All pay for everything now. If you pay taxes, consume anything, You are Paying for Evetything. Individuals pay for everything---You fly, taxes are levied on your ticket, so

Interesting post by the

Interesting post by the writer. But I'm more curious if the counties represented by this category are the "white flight" counties of the late 20th century that may be reaching their economic plateau....

I have a dream...that I lived

I have a dream...that I lived in a world without government. In my dream, I am personally responsible for my well-being and happiness, but must suffer the consequences--therefore, I better mind my P's and Q's and be a good friend, neighbor, and citizen. In my dream, my taxes (federal, state, county, city, property, gas, food, clothes, fees and fines, and anything else they can conjure up), isn't my biggest expenditure, including healthcare. In my dream, I'm not saturated with sermons about how I should think and behave. Preached loud and long from some guy in Washington who insists I think and behave like him. (and if I don't--he'll tax me some more with a fine). My dream is a faded blur because of a lifetime of indoctrination by my Mommy--the government. I've been reduced to a child and need constant care and attention from Mommy, and if I don't get instant gratification, I whine and cry until Mommy makes my boo-boo better. I've been reduced to a slave. I'm paid room and board and I get to own a car that drives me to work so I can earn my room and board. Mommy thinks of my wages as an allowance. By the way, our Founding Fathers had my very same dream. They debated ten years whether we should even have a federal government. Finally, they had no choice and created Mommy. But Mommy has a dark side. So they put her in a cage and called it the Constitution. But Mommy ****** on it and now roams around like a lion, devouring everything in her path--because she's got it in her head that she must destroy everything and re-make the world in her image. Or is that imagination? I wish I wasn't such a wussie so dependant upon Mommy, because I can't take care of myself without her. So fellow Comrades, I bid you farewell and I'll see you in the queue down at the doctor's office.

Very interesting take on

Very interesting take on things. In my career as a freelance graphic designer, I had to by insurance on the open market and found that very eye opening. Health insurance quickly became our biggest monthly expense by far even though we took a $5000 deductible plan. Luckily we had only 4 events of hospitalization and were very successful financially, but when I was teaching graphic design and advertising at a local college I told the students to beware of starting their own business, because of the prohibitive costs for health insurance. My personal feeling is that if we had a public insurance option to make the big boys play fair or at least a vibrant Co-op plan we could take the burden of working entrepreneurs to have more incentive to take a flyer and we could start to germinate more little companies that could eventually recapture the dwindling American dream.

There are many "individual"

There are many "individual" stories, but you cannot write legislation for everyone based on an individual. The reasons our government gives us for health care reform sound noble enough on the surface, but is this really something that will benefit us in the end. The same peolpe who yelled that George W. was ammassing too much power for the government are the same to tout the nobility of health care reform. It is a power grab, for the government. Even if this administration (and that is a big if)has purely noble reasons for having control over our health care, it will not be in power forever. Someday, there may be another Bush who uses this power unethically. Let's think of the long term implications of how others may abuse this power.

DJ: It's worth restating the

DJ: It's worth restating the point that government can control prices through regulation, but it cannot control costs. Prices are driven by innumerable variables that range from weather conditions to global commodity prices to the return on treasury bills that combine and vary in ways that no one can foresee, much less centrally administer. Having the government declare that no one shall pay a farmer more than $1 a gallon for milk is well and good, but if it costs the farmer $1.01 to produce the milk, guess what happens to the supply of milk. The dynamics of supply and demand are the same in medicine - whether you're talking about surgical supplies or surgeons. Centrally administered price controls can never change rapidly enough to account for changes in technology, demand, etc - and the invariable result is long waits and shortages of critical resources and personnel. Since Congress elected to expand access without increasing competition, price transparency, medical liability, etc though - it looks like that's the path we'll be heading down. Once this legislation is implemented, and the entirely predictable worsening of the price spiral manifests itself, we'll get the price controls that you seek - as well as the long waits, doctor/nurse shortages, dramatic reductions in innovation, etc that come along with them. In short - be patient. You'll get your price controls, and all of their unintended consequences in fairly short order once this thing gets through Congress.

What makes either writer

What makes either writer think that they are going to get cheaper and better plans after the reform? The Democrats are not going to have any significant tort reform as long as the trial attorneys continue to be their biggest contributor. From the beginning, this health reform has not been about lowering costs, although it claimed it would at first. The two biggest health care costs, physician charges & hospital costs are not controlled under the new reform, now called insurance reform. As in other western countries with universal care, both those costs should be REGULATED by the state. Another cost that is not addressed are the profits of the pharmaceutical companies. Non-transparent deals have been made with those organizations. Why would that be? Why not negotiate for better drug prices like other countries? Why not regulate what insurance can pay for healthcare services? Why not set reasonable charges for hospital services? Not only has the reform been diluted but polluted by the politics of passing it. Start over. Start with REGULATION of major costs. Have all citizens have the same coverage, congress, veterans and unions included. Have a patients bill of rights included in the bill, which isn't. Have a base line "best practices" listed in the bill and review of it set by congress, which isn't in the bill. Make no exceptions for any group or class, as does exist throughout the bill. Have limits on attorney shares of malpractice, but not patient compensation.

Well expressed. I took an

Well expressed. I took an early retirement from a CA school system, having worked as an administrator and speech therapist/special ed teacher for 30 years. I wanted to be closer to my family in the south. I was fully insured through my work (as was my son)for vision,dental,and medical. I chose Kaiser as my health plan due to their lower costs. This enabled me to fully insure both my son and I. Moving to Florida, I was unable to do a COBRA plan,as there is no Kaiser in this state. I knew that I would have to cover myself for health. My costs are around $300 per month for a plan that has a $2500 per year deductable. My son has to pay for his own medical privately or through his job Cost for his health plan is $90 per month whether he uses employment or self insures. He has chosen to self insure,in case he is laid off or seeks another position so that his costs do not increase unreasonably. Given that he is now 26 vs my 59, his plan is much cheaper! We both pay for vision and dental out of pocket, as carrying an insurance plan for these health services is just not economical given the care we require. It is outrageous that our Congress has done very little for the past 30 years to address the health care/insurance costs for Americans. Why does it take this long for our country to craft a plan that provides for adequate and cost efficient health coverage? Many have harsh criticism for Obama's recommendations/plan but...what do they offer to counter??? The Congress MUST address this issue. It will break the backs of our citizens. It is shameful what citizens must do to provide for themeselves and their families. We grumble about gas prices rising yearly. However, the percentage of increase for health care over the past 20 years far surpasses that of oil/gas services. As well as reforming the insurance industry, Congress must take a look at liability issues/tort reform to insure that doctors can continue to work in their chosen field, pay their student loans,and pay insurance companies for liability insurance. It is an upside down situation for the USA!!