Monday, July 26, 2010

Health Care Reform Will Help Everybody

Note: this is a guest post from Barbara O'Brien of the Mahablog. I realize that some may be confused by the byline below that says that it's posted by me, but that's a formality because Barbara is not otherwise on blogger. These are her views.-JV

Many Americans assume the new health care reform act will benefit mostly the poor and uninsured and hurt everyone else, according to polls. As Matt Yglesias wrote, “Basically, people see this as a bill that will take resources from people who have health insurance and give it to people who don’t have health insurance.” Those who still oppose the reform say that people ought to pay for their own health care.

We all believe in the virtues of hard work and self-reliance, but these days it’s a fantasy to think that anyone but the mega-wealthy will not, sooner or later, depend on help from others to pay medical bills. And that’s true no matter how hard you work, how much you love America, or how diligently you take care of yourself. The cost of medical care has so skyrocketed that breaking an arm or leg could cost as much as a new car. And if you get cancer or heart disease — which can happen even to people who live healthy lifestyles — forget about it. The disease will not only clean you out; it will leave a whopping debt for your survivors to pay.

And the truth is, we all pay for other peoples’ health care whether we know it or not. When people can’t pay their medical bills, the cost of their health care gets added to everyone else’s bills and insurance premiums. When poor people use emergency rooms as a doctor of last resort, their care is not “free.” You pay for it.

Another common fantasy about medical care is that the “free market” provides incentives for medical companies to develop innovative new drugs and treatments for disease without government subsidy. It’s true that private enterprise is very good at developing profitable health care products. But not all medical care can be made profitable.

For years, the U.S. government has been funding medical research that the big private companies don’t want to do because there is too much cost for the potential profit. This is especially true for diseases that are rare and expensive to treat. An example of a recent advance made possible by government grants include new guidelines for malignant pleural mesothelioma treatment developed by MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers. Another is a blood screening test for mesothelioma developed by thoracic surgeon Dr. Robert Taub. The health reform act provides for more dollars for such research, from which even many of the tea party protesters will benefit.

The biggest fantasy of all was that people who had insurance didn’t have to worry about health care costs. But the fact is that in recent years millions of Americans have been bankrupted by medical costs, and three-quarters of the medically bankrupt had health insurance. And yes, insurance companies even dumped hard-working, law-abiding patriots. But the health care reform act will put an end to that, and now America’s hard-working, law-abiding patriots are more financially secure, whether they like it or not.

Note: this is a guest post from Barbara O'Brien of the Mahablog. I realize that some may be confused by the byline below that says that it's posted by me, but that's a formality because Barbara is not otherwise on blogger. These are her views.-JV

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At July 26, 2010 3:54 AM, Blogger Mimi said...

Hear, hear. I want to add that there are a number of hidden charges and pitfalls of health care, even for those who have BOTH Medicare and supplementary insurance, for which they pay thousands. "Co-pays" are one. I can never understand how this is justified, aside from a simple highway robbery rationale--hey, we want more, so we'll tack on this little extra. There are plenty of other unknown-until-needed money traps, of course, including the fact that some conditions and situations aren't even covered--and the rules often change, seemingly at the whim of the insurance company.

At July 26, 2010 4:46 AM, Blogger AlanSmithee said...

Does anyone know if the useless crap insurance I'll be forced to buy costs more than the fine they'll levy if I don't buy it?

At July 26, 2010 7:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is she serious?

Not you, Mimi. Ms O'Brien, I mean.

Benefit everyone? Well yeah, if "everyone" means those whose income comes from "health care" engagement.

Do we really have to re-tread the old ground? Mandates to buy insurance help, exactly?

Giving a free, no-marketing-costs-involved guaranteed clientele to the nation's health care insurers helps, exactly?

Yeah, if I were a health care executive, I'd be stoked. If I were an MD or nurse or hospital administrator, I'd be stoked. If I ran a benefits plan management (TPA) business, I'd be stoked.

But I'm not stoked. Is that because I'm not as smart as Ms O'Brien? That I can't see what she can see?

Never mind, Ms O'Brien. Your sur-reality is safe. I'm just an anonymous hack on the InterWebToobz, and Uncle will clamp down on me soon enough, and you will be able to rejoice in the squishy totalitarianism that apparently drives your happiness. Vive le fascism!

At July 26, 2010 11:35 AM, Blogger rob payne said...

Heh, I’m neither hard working nor patriotic so I guess I’m not included in the Obama Plan. The Obama plan has effectively destroyed the opportunity that presented itself for health care reform for the next fifty years. Unfortunately since Obama likes to turn things on their head instead of health care reform we get legislation that is pro-insurance as other comments have pointed out. Personally, if health care wasn’t so important I would be inclined to laugh but it isn’t very funny. The huge irony here is that people wanted to be rid of the rapacious insurance companies and reduce medical costs but Obama gave them the opposite. Of course it is par for the course for liberals to thank Obama for such a magnificent gift.


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