The National Journal asked experts how the current health reform proposals meet the “What’s in it for me?” test. President Obama tried to answer that question earlier at his press conference. Here’s some other responses…
Karen Davis of the Commonwealth Fund argues:
• People who have no health insurance or have health insurance that leaves them vulnerable to high medical bills. This group of 71 million Americans would have affordable, reliable health insurance through health plans that meet standard benefit requirements and offer income-related premium assistance.
• People with insurance who have to change coverage frequently, and often not by choice, or one-third of insured Americans. This group would have the option to have stable insurance through the new national insurance exchange so that every time there is a transition—new job, divorce, graduation—there isn’t a potentially dangerous gap in health insurance coverage.
• People at risk of falling into medical debt. These people would be protected by a standard benefit floor and would no longer have to live with insurance that doesn’t cover the care they need.
• People who work for small businesses—a total of 49 million Americans. These employees would have access to more affordable premiums and better benefits because risk would be pooled across employers of all sizes.
• People buying their health insurance on the private market. This group of 14 million Americans would have better, more affordable health insurance available to them because all Americans would be required to have coverage, eliminating underwriting and achieving a 26 percent drop in administrative costs.
Ron Pollack of Families USA says that beyond the uninsured getting coverage, the benefits for the middle-class includes:
Meaningful health care reform means more than covering the uninsured: It means making existing coverage more stable, more affordable, more secure, and less at the whim of an inadequately regulated insurance industry. For the insured middle class, health reform will:
* offer stability of health coverage, ensuring that good, affordable coverage remains available when people change or lose jobs or start their own businesses;
* keep health coverage and care affordable, both by decelerating health care costs and by providing sliding-scale subsidies;
* ensure accountability from insurance companies, preventing them from denying coverage or charging discriminatory and unaffordable premiums to people who get sick;
* increase health coverage options for people who want more choices of health plans;
* provide prescription drug help for seniors who need multiple medicines by closing the infamous “doughnut hole” that makes needed medicines unaffordable;
reduce the “hidden health tax” – the surcharge that is added to insurance premiums to pay for the uncompensated health care provided to the uninsured – which the actuarial firm Milliman, Inc. estimated to be $1,017 on average for family coverage in 2008; and
* protect small businesses by providing subsidies, reducing the “hidden health tax,” enabling pooling of coverage through “exchanges” that should secure economies of scale, and stabilizing premium costs if a worker gets sick.
As more and more families experienced increases in premiums, deductibles, and co-payments in the past years, and as working families experienced stagnant wages due to employers’ burgeoning health care costs, there has been a growing appreciation that the status quo is unsustainable. Indeed, the status quo, in this respect, is a misnomer: Inaction on health care reform will take away families’ peace of mind as affordable, quality health coverage and care can no longer be taken for granted.
The media focus has been so focused on the give-and-take process of health reform, but no the policy; a focus on the costs of health reform without a discussion of the benefits. Hopefully, we can use August not to talk about the tactics of opponents disrupting town hall meeting, but of what the actual goals of health reform actually are.