Repairing our broken health-care system
“We have to pass the health care bill to find out what is in it,” said the speaker of the house. As we well know, that is just what occurred.
Now we are beginning to see the cancellation of millions of insurance policies and the consequences of allowing a bloated, inefficient, at times incompetent and arrogant bureaucracy take over our health-care system.
Due to a poorly conceived bill, passed and amended without proper legislative process and transparency, millions of families are losing their insurance policies and discovering they may not be able to keep their doctors and hospitals. Some of these families include members currently under care for cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.
Our leaders tell us not to worry. Only 5 percent of the population are suffering the loss of their coverage. They are right about the 5 percent but do not mention the bigger train wreck coming down the track – the employer mandate, covering 50 to 100 million more people. It has been delayed for one year.
Wonder why? Simple. As medical costs skyrocketed, employers attempted to survive by tailoring their employee plans to cover the services most needed by their employees. These plans are now deemed “substandard” and the government requires that they be replaced, resulting in rocketing costs and deductibles.
Recently, both the individual and employer mandate cost quotes for 2015 have been delayed from October 2014 until 12 days after the November 2014 election. Thus, like 2012, the voters will go to the polls uninformed or misled about the premiums that will be levied. Instead of the $2,500 family deduction promised, costs are skyrocketing.
Does the general public realize what we are facing? One elderly gentleman replied, when asked about his coverage, “I don’t have to worry, I have Medicare.” Is he aware that billions of dollars are being cut from Medicare in the next 10 years, and these cuts will be made by unelected bureaucrats?
A business owner replied he did not have to worry because he had his own “grandfathered plan.” Almost none of these plans will meet the new requirements and will be canceled. If these two people were unaware, how many more people are unaware?
Perhaps the 906-page bill that was voted on and the subsequent regulations, numbering thousands upon thousands of pages, should have been read, and more importantly, understood, before the bill was passed!
What is the answer? How can we repair a broken system? How do we address the single biggest problem in the system — the relentlessly escalating costs?
First, the ACA must be repealed and a patient- doctor-centered plan developed. And we need to find a way to reinstate the individual plans that have been canceled.
Second, insurance companies must be allowed to sell to customers across state lines, infusing the system with choice and competition. We flourish when competition requires us to market the best possible product or service at the lowest possible price.
Third, revise tort reform law to achieve a reasonable and equitable compensation system for verified malpractice cases. Remove legal opportunism and the multiple tests that doctors feel are required to protect themselves from lawsuits. It is impossible to calculate what the fear of lawsuits adds to the cost of our health care.
Fourth, create a pool for people with pre-existing conditions. Lifetime conditions would be spread in an equitable manner among all insurance companies. Temporary conditions would be assigned to a special pool until there had been no treatment for the pre-existing condition for a defined time period, and the individual can then purchase a policy on the open market.
Fifth, separate policies should be available to cover individual choices (such as birth control, etc.) that may require medical attention.
Sixth, a system of financial assistance needs to be developed, but steps should be taken to help as many people as possible work toward the day when they can pay for their own coverage.
And last, use a simple, uniform document for all insurance quotations that allows consumers to easily compare one plan to another. Consumers should own their own portable plan allowing no cancellation of coverage for subsequent illness or disease. A uniform claim form would also save our doctors time and money.
This could be the beginning of a possible cure for the problems and abuses that are plaguing our system.
It seems more evident every day that a government program is not the solution. It is up to us!
Nancy Garcia lives in Grass Valley.
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