Friday, 14 March 2008

Heath Care and Compare

Here are some web links so you can compare ideas from the current 3 Presidential Candidates on what should be done to address our current health care system. I recently finished reading these myself and you can find my comments peppered throughout this post.

http://www.barackobama.com/issues/pdf/HealthCareFullPlan.pdf
In a Nutshell: Wants to make insurance more affordable and accessible but not mandatory for adults. Suggests giving everyone the option to join a similar insurance program to the one the Senate has. Wants to ban insurance discrimination due to pre-existing conditions and chronic conditions. Stresses preventative care. Suggests federal subsidies to help lower insurance costs for those individuals and businesses that need it. Believes that health care costs will lower if everyone has access to affordable insurance as there will be fewer unpaid medical bills and more people paying into the insurance pool. Also wants to improve technology to help with lowering costs.

http://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/healthcare/americanhealthchoicesplan.pdf
In a Nutshell: Wants to mandate insurance coverage for everyone. Suggests giving everyone the option to join the same insurance program the the Senate gets. Wants to ban discrimination due to pre-existing conditions and chronic conditions. Stresses preventative care, and suggests tax credits to help make insurance more affordable for individuals and small businesses. Believes that health care costs will lower if everyone has insurance as there will no longer be any unpaid medical bills and more people paying into the insurance pool. Also, wants to lower industry costs through the use of technology.

http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/19ba2f1c-c03f-4ac2-8cd5-5cf2edb527cf.htm
Comments: Wants to increase competition among insurance providers, Suggests promoting preventative care and chronic condition care. Wants to facilitate the development of national standards for tracking treatments and outcomes, Suggests lowering costs through technology and Torte Reform to minimize large lawsuit payouts and frivolous lawsuits.

There are some similarities in all 3 of these platforms. Obviously, there is more similarity between Obama's proposal and Clinton's proposal, but even McCain shares some points with the other two. All 3 want to lower medical costs through technology and all stress the importance of preventative care, but the way you "fix" the US health care system is where the biggest differences lie.

Now you can debate on which plan is better than the other. Maybe we should mandate coverage, or make it more available and affordable, or just let the market run it's course but in any case there is one substantial issue that I see with all of the plans. No one states that insurance companies would be required to actually pay for the claims.

It seems pretty basic that if you are paying insurance premiums that the insurance companies would actually cover the bill but often this is not the case. All to often insurance companies go out of their way to find a reason to not pay the bill. They state that the visit was either unnecessary or due to a pre-existing condition, or that the person has yet to meet their deductible or was "over treated". Whatever the reason, the insured individual ends up paying the tab and also has to continue to paying their premiums.

To add insult to this injury, insurance premiums have increased on average 11% per year while salaries have risen on average by only 3.5% annually. For many workers these increased insurance costs come at a time of corporate "caps" on salary which means that higher insurance premiums combined with salary caps will result in people having less take-home money.

I have to admit that the US is the only country I have lived in for any length of time that does not provide universal health care so my views my differ from many of you. Having lived with universal health care, it is something that I am very familiar with and actually agree with. I really enjoyed being able to go to a doctor or dentist without being concerned about how much my insurance would or would not end up paying, but I also understand that America has traditionally favored the free market approach. America is the "pull yourself up by your boot straps country", but in my view the boot strap approach is part of what has lead us to an overall health care industry performance rating of 37th in the world even though we have the #1 most expensive health care system in the world. Now I'm not saying that we have to have a National Health Care System like Canada's or England's but clearly our current system isn't serving us well either.

OK time for a plug: If you have not seen the movie SICKO I would strongly suggest watching it. it chronicles what happens at various points in the insurance claims process and what the outcome was for some folks. It also covers some health care programs outside of the US. Whether you agree with universal heath care or not, it still raise some good points.

I hope this posts helps you all to solidify your thoughts and opinions.

1 comment:

Cybil said...

Good for people to know.