Health Care Reform: Good for People Like Me

by Philip Brewer on 2 April 2010 75 comments
Photo: Jim Kuhn

A long time ago, I had an idea. I was working a regular job, but I realized that what I wanted to do was be a writer. I figured that I could make some money writing, but not necessarily enough to support myself. So, I came up with a naive plan. It started with living more frugally.

I did all the ordinary frugal stuff. I ate out less. I bought fewer gadgets. I moved into a cheap apartment. I drove less.

Living more frugally did two things. First, it narrowed the gap between what I figured I could earn as a writer and what I was spending. Second, it freed up cash for saving and investing — and investing let me fill the gap from the other side, augmenting my potential writing income with interest and dividends.

You'll have already seen why I call it a naive plan. When I first started, I figured all I had to do was build my investments to the point where my investment income filled the gap between my writing income and my spending. But in the United States, that didn't work — because of health insurance.

Now, I was prepared to include the cost of health insurance in my plan, just like I was willing to include rent, groceries, and my internet connection. But there's no way to budget for the cost of health insurance: it's cheap enough if you're healthy, but spikes up toward infinity if you get sick. Worse, there's every reason to worry that getting sick will prompt your insurance company to go over your medical history with a fine-tooth comb, and then use any omission or error in your insurance application as an excuse to rescind your policy.

The upshot, as I wrote a while back in an article called Not Free to Be Poor, was that health insurance in the U.S. wasn't really insurance at all. That is, it didn't protect your finances from the huge contingent expenses that would hit if you got sick.

Health care reform is fixing that. The first big change is that in just six months, insurance companies can no longer rescind policies just because you made some mistake on your application.

To people like me, that's a really important part. Right now (for the next six months) my whole financial future is riding on a bet: I'm betting that I'll only get seriously ill or badly injured one time in my whole life. Since I'm healthy, I've been able to get a good health insurance policy. And, since I'm healthy, and could get a good policy from a different insurance company, I'm in a position to shop around for a better rate. But getting sick would mean losing the bet. I wouldn't be able to get a new policy, so I'd be stuck with the old policy — which would immediately start getting more expensive, a process that would accelerate as healthy people shopped around and found cheaper policies to switch to, leaving only sick people behind, paying ever higher premiums.

There'll be future good things, too. In four years insurance companies won't be able to deny coverage just because you're sick. The health insurance exchanges will make it a lot easier to shop around for a policy. People who are really poor (earning less than 133% of the poverty level) will get free insurance through Medicaid, and people who are a bit less poor (up to 400% of the poverty level) will get a subsidy for the cost of their insurance.

So, health care reform is good for people like me. And there are a lot of us:

  • How many potential entrepreneurs would be willing to take the risk of starting a small business, but not the risk of going without insurance?
  • How many workers at big companies would be happier at a small company, but have a sick spouse or sick child and need the big company's insurance plan?
  • How many creative types (writers, artists, musicians, actors, dancers, filmmakers) would be willing to eke out a meager existence on what they can earn from their art, but aren't willing to bet their entire financial future that they won't get sick?
  • How many people just want to try something different, but have been sticking to their old job because it's got good insurance?

I look forward to the unleashing of all that talent and energy, once all the people like me are able to do what they're called to do, without worrying that one serious illness would bankrupt them. I think there's a lot of us.

I think we'll do great things.

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Guest's picture
Cedric von Monkey

Philip:

Whilst I oppose this health plan because I think it will cause econimic misery for the country and be mismanaged, I believe that your argument is one of the best I've seen for it.

Guest's picture
Guest

So, while millions of people work in thankless jobs, they are supposed to pay for your health care so you can have a a so-called job writing.

Guest's picture

I am all for improving health care. But a federal takeover is not the way to do it. The feds ruin anything they touch. Social security comes to mind.

http://republicanleader.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=13...

Guest's picture
Guest

Are you suggesting that the private sector was doing even a decent job at providing a good product in terms of insurance?

Guest's picture
Olivia

I completely disagree with your post. Now, this is coming from somebody who is married to a farmer and will most likely have to pay for individual health insurance (not group insurance) for her entire life.

First of all, I think that this health insurance reform will only RAISE health premiums--not lower them. How in the world can insurance companies keep premiums low if they have to cover everyone including those with pre-existing conditions? Sure, the idea sounds nice, but the cost to the company is going to skyrocket. They will be left with no other option than to raise premiums or go out of business.

Secondly, Medicaid and Medicare are going bankrupt. Obviously, the system isn't working and continuing it will only hurt things.

Finally, the regulations placed on businesses regarding providing health insurance are going to substantially raise costs for businesses. Many companies have already come forward projecting astronomical losses because of this bill. If these losses actually develop, more jobs will be lost and will make it even more difficult for people to afford health insurance.

Look, I agree that the health care system needs fixed, but this is just not the way to do it. A personal finance blogger ought to be aware of that. This plan just doesn't make financial sense. Instead, health care costs need to be lowered from the ground up. A stronger focus needs to be placed on preventative medicine and something needs to be done about the excessive lawsuits doctors are forced to face.

Don't let yourself be fooled by these attractive claims like not being able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Overall, this bill is ruinous and will worsen the situation.

Philip Brewer's picture

@ Olivia:

You may well be right about the new law raising premiums. You may be wrong—pulling in all the healthy people in may well bring the average premium down more than covering sick people pushes it up—but there's no guarantee of that.

Of course you're already paying a lot of that money, even if you're not paying it for health insurance. You're paying it via taxes and you're paying it via hugely inflated health care bills, because those uninsured sick people are already getting care, they're just getting it at the emergency room with the hospital and the government eating the cost.

But that's all beside the point. I'm willing to pay for my health insurance, even if it's more expensive. Tell me what my health insurance is going to cost and I'll arrange my finances to pay it. (I'd even go back to working a regular job, if that's what it took.) What I rebel against is the huge gamble where healthy people get slightly cheaper insurance while sick people get hit with charges that only the wealthiest 5% could pay (assuming that their insurance isn't simply canceled out from under them).

Guest's picture
Guest

How in the world can insurance companies keep premiums low if they have to cover everyone including those with pre-existing conditions?

Have you heard of Medicare Part C? My father pays $48 per month for a Blue Cross supplemental plan in addition to $110 each month for Medicare. He had pre-existing conditions, by the way. How he receives full coverage for less then $160 each month is that Medicare Part C is run as a not for profit entity unlike the for profit insurance plans younger people purchase. As to Medicaid going bankrupt, it is all about earmarking enough funds to pay for it and cutting less valuable earmarks from the budget. Likewise, Medicare and SS taxes are capped at as set amount which hasn’t kept up with inflation. If you went decades without your earnings being adjusted upward for inflation you would be facing bankruptcy too.

Guest's picture
Guest

"A stronger focus needs to be placed on preventative medicine and something needs to be done about the excessive lawsuits doctors are forced to face."

Malpractice is less then 1% of health care costs in the US. Are you suggesting that medical providers sell their service without any liability for medical errors? If we are to treat healthcare as a consumer product (as opposed to a human right) then there should be consumer protections built into the product.

Guest's picture
Steven

Even if they fail, they're still be able to do better than the current state of Healthcare now. I don't understand all these 'what-ifs' that people have. We had the same 'what-ifs' about slavery, about child workers, and about free education.

You might even complain that the current American education system is screwed up. But private schools still exist. And lower class families still get to provide their children with an education.

Now replace the word education with Healthcare.

Guest's picture
NoKids

Education is not FREE. I pay property taxes to the tune of paying for 9 weeks of "free" education for SOMEONE ELSE'S CHILD each year and I have no kids of my own. This "I get something, for nothing" illogical thinking in the country is what will doom us, and once 51% of voters that actually go to the ballot are on this same "it's free, the government is buying - so I'll have two of those, thanks" it will all be downhill even faster . . . good luck with that MOOCHERS

Guest's picture
Guest

Taxes are a necessary evil if we are to live in a civilized society. Would you prefer to live in a place where there is no tax system in place to provide for the commons? I believe there are several such countries in Africa and South America. xes

Guest's picture
peeceebee

Phillip, I believe you are wrong. I won't get into particulars but I think this is a bill written for and by insurance companies (given the current political climate this is the best they could get) and is in fact bailout #1 (30m new, healthy, paying customers). Bailout #2 will come when they plead poverty due to having to actually cover sick people (that is above their pay grade).

Every other industrialized country has solved the problem and we can just copy ANY ONE OF THIER SYSTEMS and we'd better off by dropping our costs 50% and COVERING EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN. But NO! Let's re-invent the wheel "American exceptionalism" and neo-liberal fantasies of perfect markets--even though there is not one single example of markets fixing health care anywhere in the entire world. And you say your're optimistic?

?????

Guest's picture
C. Holland

I suspect that we can all agree with Olivia that an emphasis on preventative care is desirable; however, I don't see how the reforms that are passed preclude a focus on preventative care. I also don't buy the idea that people will stop caring about staying well if you increase their access to health care -- it seems to me that the opposite is true -- it makes it more possible for them to do so. While I think we are all motivated to some extent to improve our health because we are afraid of getting sick, I doubt that there's much of a correlation between the cost of getting sick and the motivation to stay well. In other words, I suspect that the other aspects of being ill -- feeling cruddy, not being able to accomplish as much, diminished capacity to enjoy life -- far outstrip the financial aspects as motivators to look after one's health.

What has me shouting "Alleluia, amen!" about the health care changes is the decoupling of individual financial fortune from health misfortune -- I think that Phil nails it on the head when points out how this reform will make it more palatable for an entrepreneur to take a calculated financial risk. Thanks for another great post!

Guest's picture
Nancy

I have watched this healthcare issue closely as I am self-employed and pay for my own insurance and wonder what the future holds. I would like to think your post will happen, but I am not sure if it will or not. Personally I believe that individuals need to be held more accountable for their lifestyle choices (including food, exercise and smoking)and we could eliminate billions of dollars in healthcare costs.

Guest's picture
Guest

“Personally I believe that individuals need to be held more accountable for their lifestyle choices (including food, exercise and smoking)and we could eliminate billions of dollars in healthcare costs.”

There are those who do not exercise and smoke and remain healthy like my mother. There are others like my niece who had leukemia at age 12 and passed away after a tough fight a year later. Who is it that we hold “accountable” again?

Guest's picture

Phil, thanks for writing this article. Health care reform is important and what we have is at least a step in right direction. This country was total paralyzed trying to write a bill to please everyone which is statistically impossible if the bill is to have any specifics in it.

I disagree with Olivia and I agree with C Holland. This bill should not lead to people being less proactive about their health. Just the opposite. The debate around this bill has focused the importance on individual responsibility. At the same time, if you have a preexisting condition once the teeth of the bill kick in, you will not have to worry about being turned down for coverage. The bill is a start toward a cultural change in the U.S. that focuses on everyone taking more responsibility for their own health with the knowledge that they will have affordable health insurance if they need it.

Guest's picture
Q

Agree or disagree, Philip has written a thoughtful and articulate post that (thus far) has sparked an intelligent discussion. I hope we can continue to have these.

When I was in my early 20s, the only insurance I could afford was emergency coverage only; many of my friends had it. The simple act of allowing people up to age 26 to stay on a parent's plan, instead of opting for emergency-only coverage, will encourage people who are used to seeking preventative care to continue to do so. This = fewer serious illnesses that could have been nipped in the bud (flus that become pneumonia, strep, etc, not to mention cervical cancer in women).

This is a complicated package and it's safe to say that no one is 100% happy with it. Let's keep the discussion going!

Guest's picture
Guest

Health is not a right. It is a personal responsibility. Health care is not a right. It is a commodity. Health insurance is not a right. It is a financial risk management tool. ObamaCare is going to bankrupt our nation.

Guest's picture
Guest

“Health is not a right. It is a personal responsibility. Health care is not a right. It is a commodity. Health insurance is not a right. It is a financial risk management tool. ObamaCare is going to bankrupt our nation.”

Yes, according to your worldview, healthcare, education, police & fire protection are not a right. BTW/our nation has already been bankrupted by all the wars and military & welfare we give to other countries.

Guest's picture
Angela Tyler

Zillions of people are chained to jobs they hate because they need health care. Now, they can go out and do their own thing! This is the best economic news we've had in forty years.

Guest's picture
DC

I am also self-employed. My insurance is my single biggest risk, and the one thing that could get me to close up shop completely. Many of my friends would like to start their own businesses, but to now have been uninsurable, so cannot. Think about that - people cannot change jobs to work for small business, cannot start small businesses, because they cannot get health care coverage. Does that make any economic sense at all? It's a killer to entrepreneurship.

As for the idea that health is totally controllable...well, no. I am healthy, thin, exercise, don't smoke, don't take meds, have healthy parents who also don't take meds...and yet - I needed emergency surgery out of the blue two years ago. And now I am uninsurable so I am stuck and cannot comparison shop. Issue is resolved, it will not reoccur. yet I cannot be insured and am stuck with what I have. If it becomes unsustainable I will close my business and get a job with the Feds, who have great benefits.

What we have now is an economic stranglehold to small business. These reforms are better, but only marginally. We need something more comprehensive.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

I wrote about this recently on my own blog here:  http://baglady.dreamhosters.com/2010/03/25/how-the-healthcare-bill-affec...

It is definitely good for those who can live frugally and be "poor" enough to receive subsidies.  I still think that the "reform" does nothing to curb healthcare costs, but yes, I agree with Philip that there are a lot of us who want to live simply and this plan will help us do that because the cost of health insurance will be more certain. 

Andrea Karim's picture

There have been a few occasions in which I have seen an opportunity to take a freelance position or start a small business, and have avoided it precisely because of the costs of healthcare. As a diabetic, I simply won't be insured by individual health plans.

It remains to be seen how many Americans will leave their current jobs to start their own businesses once health care companies are forced to stop denying coverage to people, but I think there will be a definitely upswing.

Guest's picture
Maria

This so-called "reform" does nothing about actual health care costs, it raises taxes essentially on EVERYONE, it cuts health care for those who most need it - senior citizens, it gives the federal government control over your health care, AND gets between you and your doctor. You could already buy cheaper insurance plans with higher deductibles or insurance for catastrophic illnesses. If you're poor enough, you qualify for your state's Medicaid program anyway. Obamacare is NOT the answer to anyone's problems.

Guest's picture
Karen

Yeah yeah, the bill doesn't do enough, but personally, I have to support it because of the pre-existing condition thing. Pre-existing conditions are a RIDICULOUS idea, about as logical as black people being 5/8 of a person or what have you. Now they will cease to exist.

I hope that it will start to lower health care costs. But in the event that the costs start to rise, I hope that will give us the political will to pass a government NOT-FOR-PROFIT single payer system, which is what we should have done in the first place.

It's a foot in the door.

Guest's picture
DC

@Maria: No - in fact you cannot always just get cheaper plans with high deductibles. One of my friends recently tried to shop for insurance as he is now unemployed and cannot afford his plan. He is relatively healthy, but at the age of 50 has a few small blemishes on his history. He cannot find a policy. Period. Not at a high deductible. Not at all. Not even with a $10K deductible. And no one will tell him why.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have a plan for $400/month with a $5K deductible. It's better than most of my friends who are self-employed have.

It's incredibly risky to buy on the private market. Those with subsidized insurance don't realize that.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

For what it's worth, I don't think charging more for insurance based on preexisting conditions is a ridiculous idea because those with preexisting conditions are likely to consume more healthcare.  It is like I pay a bit more for my property insurance because I'm in a zone with a high risk of fire.    I do think it's ridiculous how some preexisting conditions are defined, and how the whole system has to go through insurance.  If there is no layer of insurance and healthcare is just affordable, then it wouldn't matter if you had a preexisting condition because you would be able to pay for the services directly. 

Philip Brewer's picture

 @ Xin:

It's true that total health care expenses for a sick person are higher than health care expenses for a healthy person. But that's exactly why we buy insurance—so that the huge cost of getting sick doesn't break our finances.

Under the current scheme, health insurance doesn't do the whole job. It will do part of the job—it'll cover the costs of one illness. (Unless you made a mistake on your application and the company rescinds your policy.) But then it leaves you hanging, with no way to protect your finances against a second illness.

I suppose it would be possible to create an insurance product to protect against that—health insurance insurance. That would be a policy that would protect you against future pre-existing conditions. (Maybe we should call those post-existing conditions.) If you got sick and your insurance premiums shot up, this second policy would pay the difference.

As a practical matter, though, having separate policies seems like an unnecessary complication—let's just roll them into one. Yes, the coverage against future pre-existing conditions will increase the cost some, but it will mean that the insurance is actually insurance—it'll protect your family against a medical catastrophe turning into a financial catastrophe as well. And it may not cost a lot, because including sick people in the system means that they'll be able to get their care in the cheapest way possible.

In the medium term, there won't be any pre-existing conditions anymore, because everybody will have coverage their whole lives. Then any conditions will be post-existing conditions.

Guest's picture
Maus

I am one of those people with a pre-existing condition that returned to work as an employee because I was denied coverage when I sought an individual plan. This lack of ability to purchase coverage at any price derailed my hope of self-employment. I remain at a job that embitters me daily because it provides affordable group health insurance. While I am troubled by the fiscal impact the health care reform bill might have on the future of American prosperity, I do hope that it will at least give me the ability that Philip talks about. I want to return to being a self-employed entrepeneur. If protection against denial of coverage and the cost-savings of pooled buying deliver what they are allegedly intented to deliver in 4 years, I will be freed to do so. For now, I am saving as much as I can to take advantage of the possibility.

Guest's picture
Guest

This is a very reasoned article and I enjoyed reading it. Just wish more "ordinary" people would put their experiences out there so those who are still skeptical or worried might see what the real advantages are and can be to this reform.

As the President says, "it isn't perfect, but it's a start."

It's incomprehensible to me how some people think those who are ill should pay more BECAUSE they are ill. That is so totally illogical, not to mention inhumane, and negates the whole idea behind insurance.

Everyone deserves health care, whether they have money or not.

Guest's picture
Brian

@Nokids:

"Education is not FREE. I pay property taxes to the tune of paying for 9 weeks of "free" education for SOMEONE ELSE'S CHILD each year and I have no kids of my own. This "I get something, for nothing"..."

Well, I hope you will appreciate the Medicare and Social Security benefits you will be getting when you are old. These benefits will be paid by MY children. Thankfully, they will have a good education because of your "willingness" to pay taxes. Oh, and I bet you are glad your child-free neighbors from your childhood were "willing" to do the same for you.

Who knows. Maybe one of them will go into health care so they may have the privilege of taking care of you when you are too old to do so for yourself.

Guest's picture
NoKids

@Brian

When will people realize that these are TAXES (7.65% combined, wow imagine what someone could with a pay raise of OVER 8% - do the math) that are collected from you paycheck: THERE IS NO ACCOUNT HOLDING THE MONEY that is collected from medicare/SS. They are only pieces of paper that say "IOU. Love, Uncle Sammy".

My retirement plans include getting ZILCH from ss or medicare (Medicare/Medicaid WILL be replaced by Fed-run health-care, but the taxes for them will not disappear) - if it happens, it will be a bonus, albeit probably one meal a month by the time I am eligible (oh, they can change the rules at any time on that, as well).

Guest's picture
Dottie

I have to agree with nokids on the SS argument.. I would gladly give up my right to all  ss benefits if I had the 7.65% that was withheld from my paycheck every week coupled with the 7.65% tax that my employer has to pay on top of my deduction to invest at my choosing. And yes he makes a good argument that medicare will go away since we have the new healthcare reform but I am also willing to bet the tax will not go away.

I lived a very very modest life with a very modest income and put two children through 12 years of private school and college because I wouldn't even send my dog to public school in Florida and had to just grin and bear the annual school tax each year. The tuition charged each year for private education was less than what the government allots to the  public schools on a per child basis and their education was far better than anything the public system could offer. ( PRivate school teachers are also paid less on average than the public school teachers). That is another argument in itself

Guest's picture
C. Holland

My read is that the reform is more about increasing access to health care than about controlling costs -- it is an experiment that has been endorsed by both the insurance and medical industries in using private industry (the insurance companies) and state government (the insurance pools) to ensure that virtually every citizen of our nation has access to health insurance. There are no price controls on doctors or insurers precisely because it is not a socialist government program. The gamble is that capitalism will work to regulate costs, and if the experiment fails, I suspect it will be because aggregation and collusion by providers prevent competitive forces from moderating price increases.

To return to my straw man now that I'm more awake and perhaps more articulate . . . The argument for not insuring those who can't afford it (historically, the working poor, but in this particular case, also middle class freelancers and entrepreneurs) seems to be: If I increase your access to health care, you won't worry about getting sick anymore and therefore you won't take care of yourself.

An acid test of the proposition might be to ask whether one finds better health among wealthy populations (who presumably have lower financial barriers and therefore better access to health care, and thus, by this logic, should do a relatively poor job of taking care of themselves) or among poorer populations (who presumably have higher financial barriers and therefore less access to health care and thus, by this logic, should do a relatively excellent job of taking care of themselves).

We might also just test the proposition on ourselves and those we know and love -- if my access to health care increased, do I think I would do a better or a worse job of taking care of myself? What do I think that the people that I love would do?

There really isn't any "us" and "them" in this -- all of us are just folks having better or worse days.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have friends whose finances have been devastated because their 9 week-old baby was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer (she survived, and is a beautiful, happy child now). They thank God every day for their daughter, but would probably never be able to get insurance again because they're self-employed without this plan. It is terrifying to think of them worrying about their other child, or other possible illnesses knowing that they have no coverage and no way to get covered, for something that they could not have prevented. I hope that the new plan allows them to get decent insurance that they can afford so they can start to rebuild their lives.

Guest's picture
Mandy

I have to agree with the first comment. I am adamantly opposed to this health care bill, but your article was logical and well written. The "bet" analogy was an interesting choice. It makes sense. Just another reason that you are one of my favorite authors on Wisebread.

(For what it's worth, I absolutely agree that something must be done, but I don't feel that this is the right solution...)

Guest's picture
wmarcy

You have simply shifted the paying of something form you, to someone else. Which means that some other person now can not be a writer or a painter, because they need to pay for your health care.

I work two jobs, and write in between and where i can snatch ten minutes, I get to now work harder to support you, and the rest of the people who think other people owe them something.

Thanks.

Philip Brewer's picture

@wmarcy:

I don't think that's it at all.

I mean, in a sense, all insurance "shifts" the cost of catastrophes from the people who have them onto the people who are lucky enough not to. But I think that misses the point—which is that insurance is supposed to insure that when bad luck strikes, your family's finances are protected.

The problem was, the way health insurance worked in the US, it wasn't really insurance. (It was more like a weird pre-paid medical plan for healthy people.) It didn't really protect your finances. Soon it will.

Guest's picture
Kelly

This is exactly why I'm so happy about the healthcare reform. I'm stuck spinning my wheels in a job I don't really like just because what I *really* want to do would require me going out on a limb by myself - and no insurance company will take me on my own. I have to stay at a job with benefits.

And why? Because I have a medical condition that costs $10/month to treat. $10 I would gladly pay out of my own pocket. The expensive complications that can come from it - fertility problems - are something a lot of insurance companies cover anyway. So basically, even if I'm OK with paying for my (cheap!) Rx out of pocket, and even though the worst thing that could happen wouldn't be the insurance's responsibility anyway, they won't have me. So I stay at a crap job. What a waste of every day of my life.

Guest's picture
Kelly

In my above comment I meant "-fertility problems - are something a lot of insurance companies DON'T cover anyway"

Forgot the "don't." I was too impassioned to proofread, apparently.

Guest's picture
Kelly

Oh and the kicker of course is that I don't even WANT kids so the most expensive complications are irrelevant to my entire life, not just to the insurance company's wallet.

I'm done now. I don't think I've ever commented three times on one post!

Guest's picture
Edgar A.

I was glad to have it pointed out that the free public education that I and my children got wasn't really free. Rather, it was paid for or at least subsidized by childless people. Of course, my children have long since graduated and my grandchildren don't live in this school district so now I'm in the same boat. It's like having to continue buying hay for the cow after you've become lactose intolerant.

I tried to think of something that is really free, and I thought of air. But then I realized that's heavily subsidized too. Dozens of manufacturers and electric companies to say nothing of motorists and CAFO operators are required to spend good money to internalize all those negative externalities. "As free as the air?" Hardly!

Guest's picture
Lazo

"First of all, I think that this health insurance reform will only RAISE health premiums--not lower them. How in the world can insurance companies keep premiums low if they have to cover everyone including those with pre-existing conditions? Sure, the idea sounds nice, but the cost to the company is going to skyrocket. They will be left with no other option than to raise premiums or go out of business."

This brings forth my biggest concern with the health care bill. Insurance companies are for-profit entities. Whether you like it or not, they are. Just like "small entrepreneurs" or other huge corporations, the goal is to make money. The government is creating a "fund" with $5B to work with high-risk individuals. I cannot see there being enough "healthy" individuals entering a the system to keep premiums at the lows the government wants them.

Let us say, then, that insurance companies begin to "bow out" as they cannot make money at the artificially low premiums the government wants them at. I fear that the lack of profitability will drive private enterprise from the picture. Enter the government. The government will be forced to create an option (or whatever label they want to put on it) to provide coverage.

We've been told that our country cannot afford to NOT have this health bill.

The truth is we cannot afford to be wrong. We've got a couple of other entitlement programs that need fixed...before we create another one. The President said this is a Congress that "must make difficult decisions" - they then need to address social security, earmark (pork) spending and ridding Capitol Hill of the lobbyist that lend a bigger voice to corporations/special interest groups than the people.

If this bill was created to help our people, then I'm for it. If it was created with the heavy influence of corporations and special interest groups...with the people 2nd...then there is no "change" in this country yet.

(Sorry for the politics.)

Guest's picture
Lazo

One thing I forgot: tort reform

*WHY* was this not in the bill?!?!?

Can someone explain to me why we don't have a problem with suing the doctor/hospital for $100m when someone dies on the operating table due to doctor error?

But when the doctor successfully saves a life...people think it is rediculous that the procedure was $250,000? Shouldn't the person be charged $100m for the chance to continue living?

OK...a little extreme, but tort reform would cut HUGE costs out of the system. I guess there are trial attorneys who have more money to lobby Congress than I do.

Guest's picture
Tinose

This, so much. We can argue all year on whether the new health care laws are the best way to fix things (probably not), but the fact of the matter still remains that insurance was already irreparably broken - through rescission, through being so tightly bound to what type of job you have, through its unavailability to anyone with a previously existing condition, through forcing doctors to spend more time and effort getting their money than they do doing their actual damn job, through...I could go on forever. In my own small circle of friends, there's three people at least who have been horribly screwed over by the current health care system. At least this offers a chance for change.

Guest's picture
Muddytoes

Americans who are happy with their insurance plans are generally the ones who have been lucky enough to not really need it. Only when something goes devastatingly wrong do you discover the limits, loopholes, and exclusions. Most people have no idea what costs can be for cancer care, strokes, traumatic injuries. Could you pay 10 to 20% of $250,000? $500,000? Something like 30% of all bankruptcies are related to medical bills and this does not happen in other developed countries.

I agree with Phillip the purpose of insurance is to spread the risk around a large group of people, so the one person unlucky enough to get rundown by a drunk doesn't have their life ruined. I think a "healthy habits" discount similar to "good driver discounts" should be sufficient to motivate people to quit smoking, wear their helmets and seatbelts, lose weight/exercise. I don't think those whose health problems are not under their control should be penalized.

Finally to everyone who trumpets "preventative care" and healthy habits as a way to bring down costs I have to caution you that this is probably a fallacy. Better preventative care improves health and helps people live longer, but the longer you live the more health care dollars you consume over your lifetime. Who is the better health care "bargain" the guy who never sees a doctor and drops dead of a cardiac arrest at 60, or the one who exercises and eats right and goes on to require cancer treatment and nursing home care in his 80's? We can extend the quantity and quality of life, but it's not cheap. A big part of Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid's problems relate to the fact that are seniors are now living much longer on average than was ever anticipated when the programs were set up.

Thanks for the post, you have precisely articulated my thoughts about the unfairness of our current structures. I considered starting my own business, but knew that I could never afford my own insurance. I have never understood why the conservatives wouldn't want health care off the backs (and books) of American business. It strangles their ability to compete worldwide. And to everyone who questions the ability of the goverment to control costs I would say that they already are the primary limiting factor on costs limiting Medicare reimbursement to "reasonable and customary" levels. Other insurers then adopt Medicare's standards. This is how it has been working for years.

Guest's picture
tt

It's a step in the right direction. It's eliminating some loop holes that insurance companies have been generously taking advantage of for far too long. I think it's totally fair and acceptable to eliminate them being able to benefit twice from one law. How much have they banked from that alone?

Without the reform, taxpayers would be footing the ever increasing bill for those who cannot afford health care. And those with health care see their premiums increase each year anyway.

I think it's taking away a little power from insurance companies, who have a huge role in health care in this country but aren't the ones receiving or giving care directly. I don't think any other business could have gotten away with all this for so long.

I also think that more jobs will be created to give care to more people now able to seek health care.

Guest's picture
Ankur

I loved your post Phillip....I left my corporate job a couple of years ago to become a massage therapist and it was the best decision of my life. The healthcare was the big snafu, but I was able to get a decent plan from an association I belong too.
If Universal healthcare is working in every other "civilized" country in the world, why are we not embracing that concept? I think this bill is a great step in the right direction.
As for the "me" vs. "them" mentality....I am amazed at how many grown up people have forgotten how the share with others, help others, and respect others. Many people will go to church, but will not follow the commandments where it says to "honor thy neighbor".

Just grow up....not everything is about money...you CANNOT take it with you at all when you die!

Guest's picture
ns

The premise of each post I read is that the Healthcare Reform bill is actually about healthcare! If you've actually followed its passage and listened to the critics and why they're so opposed to it, you'll discover that they are very concerned about government control over our lives! Freedom! Does the 16,000 new IRS agents in the bill mean anything to anybody? Are we so disengaged from our fellow citizens that we don't care what happens to their financial stability as long as we get what we want? If you've ever read the concerns of the critics of Social Security when it was being debated you will discover they were dead right! This country is doomed as long as people believe they are entitled to something for nothing and are willing to exchange their freedom for security.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin Or as someone else has said, "Those who exchange freedom for security will lose both."

Philip Brewer's picture

It's true that it's not about health care. By and large, people who are really sick get the care they need. If they can't pay the bill, the health care provider has to eat the cost (sometimes passing part of it on to the government), but the care is provided.

What it's about is insurance. Up to now, in the United States, it's been impossible to get health insurance. (All you could get was something called health insurance, but that was actually more like pre-paid health care services: You paid them a good bit more than what health care for an average healthy person cost, and then they paid for your health care. If you got seriously ill, they'd pay for the cost of treating that illness, but after that you got shuffled off into the category for people who couldn't get insurance at all. The upshot was that the so-called insurance didn't do what insurance is supposed to do: keep a medical catastrophe from turning into a financial catastrophe.)

That wasn't always true.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield, for example, used to provide real insurance. They offered health insurance to everybody—including people with pre-existing conditions—and they charged everybody the same price. (They created large groups and the cost of the insurance for each group was just the cost of providing care to everybody divided by the size of the group.)

Once the for-profit insurance companies got into the game, though, they changed the rules. By refusing to insure sick people, they could offer insurance that was cheaper (and more profitable). Over time, healthy people moved away from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, going for the cheaper insurance.

At first it wasn't clear that they were betting their whole future on a risky gamble that they'd only get seriously ill one time. After all, they figured, if the price of their insurance went up, they could switch back to Blue Cross. But once enough of the healthy people left, the Blue Cross scheme quit working. Blue Cross and Blue Shield still exist, but they don't do what they used to do (and they're no longer non-profits).

So, now, there's no such thing as health insurance. But soon, there will be again.

Guest's picture
Susanne

Excellent article, thank you! I am thrilled this bill passed. It's not perfect, but it's most definitely a step in the right direction. My husband and I have both worked very hard all of our adult lives to provide for ourselves and our children. If he were to be laid off, it would only be a matter of months before we could no longer afford health coverage. I don't think most people realize they are potentially just a few months away from possible financial devastation.

We will happily pay more in taxes or more in premiums if it means that the family next door doesn't suffer that fate. I would hope they'd feel the same way about us.

Guest's picture
Guest

In your post you mentioned, "companies can no longer rescind policies just because you made some mistake on your application." Some people would call those mistakes lies to which I say: In an insurance system that exploits and damages people, do not blame people who lie on the app to avoid being exploited and damaged. I just had to get that off my chest after stumbling onto your site. Nice post. :-)

Philip Brewer's picture

 @ Guest:

I think the new rules will allow rescissions in cases of fraud—where you deliberately falsify your application.

But I actually filled out an application for an individual policy recently. It was full of open-ended questions that couldn't possibly be answered completely and accurately.

And I mean that literally: I could take my current medical records and my childhood medical records (which I have) and hire a doctor and a secretary to sit down with me and go through my records and spend a few days on the application, and I still couldn't have provided a complete and accurate application. My memory of my health over the past 50 years is incomplete. I don't have all my records (I don't have any records from when I was in college or from first few years after I got out of college). Sometimes my doctors may have told me one thing and written something slightly (or significantly) different in the records.

But there are plenty of companies out there that will do just that—hire a doctor and a secretary to go through someone's application and compare it to their medical records, looking for any place where they don't match. And when they find a difference (and I guarantee that they will be able to), don't expect them to cut you any slack when you say, "Despite what's written down there, I clearly remember the doctor telling me something different."

Guest's picture
wildgift

@wmarcy - I laugh at you. You work two jobs, and think you're paying for someone else's healthcare.

You're really helping to pay for healthcare for two of your bosses.

@Egdar - you are correct. We should allow these companies and drivers to pollute until we're all sick with asthma. That's free enterprise.

Illness = freedom.

@Lazo - tort reform was in it just a touch, but since no Republicans would budge and try to get tort reform in the bill in exchange for a few votes, it didn't get included.

Trial lawyers give heavily to both Republicans and Democrats, but the ones who argue tort cases on behalf of consumers give to Democrats. The ones working for corporations tend to favor Republicans (but I don't think exclusively).

Tort reform is entirely anti-consumer, which is why it's so polarized. It's not about "lawyers" but about a specific type of lawyer - the John Edwards type, basically.

(Incidentally, if you look at countries with socialized medicine, they don't have many tort cases. People just take what the government gives them. No tort. Tort is an integral part of any market-based system, and the only way to really reduce tort is to increase goverment ownership of the system. The goal of the anti-tort advocates is generally to turn America into a state dominated by corporations, where the CEOs are our Kings, and we fear to sue them.)

Also note that there was no price-fixing in the bill because the legislatures didn't really want to take on the medical business or the drug business. Price-fixing is a big part of healthcare in other countries, whether nationalized or single-payer, or multi-payer. Also, our single-payer option, Medicare, does limited price-fixing (which might be why the Medicare-for-all bits never made it in).

As it was, it looks like they were trying to use a divide and conquer strategy against the insurance business - pitting some HMOs against the larger insurance industry.

It seemed like the split was between HMOs that ran hospitals and HMOs that didn't. So, an HMO like Kaiser was for the bill, while an insurance company like Blue Cross, which doesn't have hospitals, was against it.

Guest's picture

I like what I read about it, but the realist in me wonders how in the world we, as a nation, can afford it. That said, healthcare is a great thing to spend collective money on, so maybe our leaders will cut from the pork barrel and find a way to pay for it.

Guest's picture
crazy talk

If you are healthy right now and didn't buy insurance (the vast majority of the 30 million supposedly not insured) what makes anyone think they are going to buy it after this bill. Premiums are not going to be cheaper - period. That's not even a discussion. Has one person here seen cheaper premiums advertised because of this bill? nope. You would think insurance companies would be falling over themselves to offer healthy people the cheapest premiums possible and get their money so when they have to insure sick people those costs would be offset.

I am for the part of the bill that allows for preexisting conditions with the following exception. For the next three years everyone has a "free pass" to buy insurance. If you do then you are covered by the preexisting condition clause. If you choose not to buy insurance (and the government says it will be affordable remember - sarcasm) then you don't fall under that protection later. If you are under the age 26 then you are automatically fall under the preexisting clause. but if you are a 22 year old that chooses not to buy insurance for the next 8 years then get sick when you are 30 too bad you are stuck with the entire cost even if that bankrupts you

by the way does anyone know why emergency room visits cost more? only because the hospital choose to charge more. having or not having insurance has nothing to do with it. I have insurance, I had to have my appendix taken out. They processed me through the emergency room even though I didn't go to the emergency room, I actually went in 5 hours prior to that and saw my regular doctor then had a ct scan, then waited for the results, then they told me I had acute appendicitis and need to have it taken out today. my doctor had me go down stairs to the emergency room and check in through them; 4 hours later they took it out. On the bill $1300 for emergency room processing fee. They had separate charges for the operation, meds etc. so yes emergency rooms visits technically are more expensive but only because hospitals charge more not because they need to charge more or that having insurance keeps those costs down.

Guest's picture
Deeannafc

Thank you for saying so eloquently something I've known to be true for years. I'm a freelance writer and I get my health insurance through my husband's employer - thankfully. A few years ago my sister who has had asthma since childhood, and has always had health insurance [without interruption] through large employers, was told her asthma would not be covered for 18 mos under her new employer's policy. She opted to use COBRA to cover her asthma [at no small cost] until the new insurance kicked in. Oh, and her new employer was a health insurance company. I guess that's why she wasn't rejected outright.

I've also met other writers with preexisting conditions, who wanted to strike out on their own, and even start companies, but couldn't seriously consider it because they would never get health insurance at any price due to preexisting conditions [all congenital].

I think this reform will be great for business, not as good as a single payer system [which I believe is the system pushed by the AMA -not a group of well-educated, high-earners prone to socialist tendencies],but this reform is a great start.

Conservative naysayers were on the wrong side when it came to child labor laws, Medicare, and Social Security - three sacred cows they now consider their duty to protect.

Guest's picture

Thank you for this wonderful post. I have not read all the comments, so don't know if anyone has mentioned something similar....My son is studying in France this year. I have--not totally tongue in cheek--suggested that he find a wife from a country with health care. I was dreading his graduation into a dangerous world!

After the bill passed, i asked him what his European pals thought. He said most were shocked. They couldn't believe we didn't already have it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Perhaps it is just me, but I don't look at the new law as any kind of help for anyone other than the 32 million people that the Democrats wanted to add to the government medical welfare rolls.

Yes, removing recission could be a good thing, but as Massachusetts is finding out (in the news today) that people will game the system, and cause sky-rocketing costs to be passed along to the rest of us.
If the ultimate goal was health care reform, this was not it. The primary goal of Obama & the liberal establishment was create a government single payer network so they can control your lives.

Could this law work? Maybe but once all the lawsuits and other changes over the next few years happen, it will raise premiums and ultimately either bankrupt the US or simply force the goverment to raise taxes and extinguish any chance of new jobs that are not government sponsored or federally paid.

Philip Brewer's picture

Maybe I'm naive, but I'm really not that worried that health care reform will cost that much money.

Granted, the built-in cost savings are small. There'll be some gain from people getting care early rather than later, when they'd be more expensive to treat, but that's a modest sum.

The real savings come from the fact that poor and uninsured people are already getting care, they're just not paying for it.

The current model is:

  1. Poor or uninsured person gets sick, but can't afford treatment, so he carries on and hopes it gets better.
  2. If the poor or uninsured person instead gets more sick, he eventually goes to the emergency room.
  3. The hospital treats the guy for the acute problem, then sends him a bill.
  4. Since the guy is poor, he can't pay it. (And since he's uninsured, by the way, the bill is way higher than it would be if he got care at the negotiated rates that insured people get.)
  5. After hounding the guy for a while, and maybe seizing his bank account or garnisheeing his paycheck, the hospital eventually writes off most of the charge. (Possibly only after driving the guy into bankruptcy.)
  6. Since the guy was only treated for the acute problem, and not the underlying condition, he's quite prone to get sick again: Repeat from step 1.

The hospital ends up eating a big chunk of the bill. Governments at all levels subsidize this in various ways, to keep the hospital in business.

My point is simply that the care is already being paid for. It's just being paid for in the most expensive way possible, with plenty of money going to the support the hospital's back office work to drag payments out of broke patients, together with some little slivers of extra money being siphoned off by bill collectors, bankruptcy lawyers, and the like.

Guest's picture
Guest

No argument that it is already being paid for by the government and not the people who use/abuse the system. The trouble is, they still won't be paying for it. The government is just raising taxes and fees on everyone else to expand what the people are using / abusing now. What happened to it won't raise the deficit, or no new taxes for people making under 250k?
Do I think you are being naive, simply yes.
Anything the government touches either turns to crap or ends up being wonderful expensive crap that other people pay for.
Are we "bending the curve" - no, just adding more welfare.
Do I think we need real heatlh care reform, absolutely, but this is exactly the wrong reforms.
We shall see how all this plays out, since the odds of replacing,repealing are nil, but hopefully the courts will rule the individual mandate null and void, but I doubt that will change the law except to create an even higher cost.

Guest's picture
Dottie

I for one am very confused about this healthcare bill and the financing and management of it. My husband has cancer and the fact they in the future he will not be denied healthcoverage or have his rates go through roof again ( I am not sure we can afford another rate increase).

I am also the HR manager for a med to large company. Will this bill cost my company more money? ABSOLUTELY, it will and plenty of extra money at that. And yes we WILL pass that cost on to our customers.

I have never felt so confused about something that effects me so severly in my life!

Guest's picture
Lloyd Alter

Just saw this post and wanted to add a point: I have a friend who started a software company in Montreal and now lives in the states. He was writing to everyone he could to tell them that the American health care system was a huge impediment to innovation and mobility. He could hire a dozen smart young programmers and not have to worry about the cost of their health care and could pay them more money instead.They could join an iffy startup and not have to worry about health insurance for them or their families.

I still live in Canada, and could move from employee to freelance writer without even thinking about the issue.

American policy seems designed to stifle mobility. You have mortgage interest deductibility that ties people down and inflated housing prices; you have health care that ties you to companies that are uncompetitive because of the costs. It makes so little sense in this modern age.

 

 

Guest's picture
Guest

To the person who made the comment about education not being free, you are right- it's not.  However- that kid that's not yours could turn out to be your doctor, your neighbor or your future in law.  By the way, your representation in govenrment-you pay for that too.  There are some mooches for you. If you're their boss, why don't you have the same healthcare?

I get it-everybody's pissed, blah blah blah.  No one complains when the government forces you to buy car insurance, but everyone's up in arms when someone tells you that you have to insure yourself, too.  I see it like this: if your happy with your healthcare-you've never had to really, really use it (as Phillip commented above).  If you're happy with the way things are, come spend the day with me, working with kids who come to school sick because mom can't take the day off.  Because if she does, she'll lose her job.  You don't want to pay for healthcare, fine.  You don't want to pay for education, fine.  But when you dial 911-you sure want someone to come, don't you? Your property taxes often pay for that.  I don't want to put everybody's sob story on the soapbox. 

I just want people to be polite to each other, be respectful of differing opinions.  Stop telling me I'm a "insert mean name here" because I want a kid to get to go to the doctor.  You're either going to help pay for that-now, up front, while that kid still has a chance to turn out great- or later, when that kid's homeless, in prison, or dead.  You want things to change-or to speak out against changes you think are unfair, etc, then learn to do it in a way that's intelligent and respectful.  I want people to be able to say what they want-I don't just want to hear my side.  I'm just tired of everyone repeating whatever they heard on Fox news all the time and claiming that's how they've always felt.  Truth is, you've probably never given half this stuff a second thought til now. 

Guest's picture
Guest

To the person who made the comment about education not being free, you are right- it's not.  However- that kid that's not yours could turn out to be your doctor, your neighbor or your future in law.  By the way, your representation in govenrment-you pay for that too.  There are some mooches for you. If you're their boss, why don't you have the same healthcare?

I get it-everybody's pissed, blah blah blah.  No one complains when the government forces you to buy car insurance, but everyone's up in arms when someone tells you that you have to insure yourself, too.  I see it like this: if your happy with your healthcare-you've never had to really, really use it (as Phillip commented above).  If you're happy with the way things are, come spend the day with me, working with kids who come to school sick because mom can't take the day off.  Because if she does, she'll lose her job.  You don't want to pay for healthcare, fine.  You don't want to pay for education, fine.  But when you dial 911-you sure want someone to come, don't you? Your property taxes often pay for that.  I don't want to put everybody's sob story on the soapbox. 

I just want people to be polite to each other, be respectful of differing opinions.  Stop telling me I'm a "insert mean name here" because I want a kid to get to go to the doctor.  You're either going to help pay for that-now, up front, while that kid still has a chance to turn out great- or later, when that kid's homeless, in prison, or dead.  You want things to change-or to speak out against changes you think are unfair, etc, then learn to do it in a way that's intelligent and respectful.  I want people to be able to say what they want-I don't just want to hear my side.  I'm just tired of everyone repeating whatever they heard on Fox news all the time and claiming that's how they've always felt.  Truth is, you've probably never given half this stuff a second thought til now. 

Guest's picture
Annoyed at the author and insane liberal view of life

Maam - the government is not forcing you to buy a car, therefore it is entirely different than them forcing you to buy healthcare.

Guest's picture
GuestAmerican

I love that you are putting your heart out there young jedi's, however you must walk the path (it holds many secrets learned only through individual perspective) to be taken seriously at any level genius or idiot, second pleas understand this above all thinking and logic ,take this in and hold it in your minds eye forever and share this knowledge with wise people and you will ether be cast out or lavishly adored fore being in the know fashionable or not, again perspective is key:The integrity of your government has been compromised again and again over hundred’s of years and re-tooled fore nothing but control of the worker bees , they don’t give one sh!t if women and children die from lack of money, we are her to support the royal elite and not take up any real money,how it will stay until WE do something. the royal elite has its own children to take there roles as the future leaders in the US we are not allowed in ever , you are sadly just a slave in every sense you cannot do anything without (there)money or say so you will be tax’d fined jail d killd before you get (there)money or what they think is theres,or stand up to them.the fine fore denying your health claim for a pre-existing condition is only $100,The new bill is worthless and insulting!, so eat the food you are provided with, watch the T.V. shows you are provided with, believe what you are told directly or indirectly (it is all controlled and don't think it ain't) or you will be punished in any of a thousand ways my friends, we have been easily conditioned to be stupid followers, sorry thats what I have found in years of research and interviews and logical conjecture. we’r screwed until all the "masters" are removed from power and the example be made by capital treason laws! To stop later tempts to re-creat this madness. Now about guns that is part of the freedom process without guns we will be screwed much much sooner by the masters you think care about you , never will we have a 100% perfect society but guns play a big big part of this life and should NEVER be villainizd by citizens as this may one day be all the say so you really have or ever will have for that matter as voting is one thing we are conditioned to think makes a sh!t’n bit of dif, it dos not the proof. IF IT DID WE WOULD NOT BE IN THIS MESS they place figure heads as temps. The guns no matter any ones opinion about them they are too important to get rid of without them your great grandparents would of been enslaved by whomever ruled over them in there time with great eas and you would be eating cardboard and working 16 hours fore nothing like your great grandchildren will be if we get rid of guns just look ate China thats the template of total control people.Back in great grand parent times the elite still had much to learn but today have mastered there dark craft and guns are the big hiccup in all that, love em or hate em we need em.And this thing has been going on way before electricity,every wants to be the expert and that arogant stupidity clouds the real info that people need to here, this info Im sharing is how it REALLY is! Fore a brief period America was in good shape but at certain points in the development the masters must and have act to keep the machine in there control and get whatever money n power they can fore the next step.See what Michael Moore has on the burner these days. builder bergs, trilateral comity, Illuminati. google them and after about a year you may have something real to say keep it up though and do some math how long you live, how much you earn how much gos into some kind or another tax and interest medical expense gas, living, legal fees IRS and also the federal reserve is a private company just calling itself Fedrall, not much money in our pocket is there ,life suck because thats a slaves life , we work our lives away and b!tch about a five cent tax hike ! wow, If the gov took only what is required to function we would need only work 4 thats 4 hours a day 5 days a week!!!! with free health care ta boot! the rest is stolen and legally plundered from us my fellow slaves. good luck and keep thinking outside the box…ps this beast of burden life style we live, is the “mark of the beast” its on our head and on our hand and you cannot purchase anything without it….Revalations.

Guest's picture

Frugal living gives the best shot to a very substantial overview of everything. It provides a very relevant thinking that somehow results to an intelligent understanding.

I agree with the idea that health isn't just a right. It's our own personal responsibility rather. Being aware of our responsibilities makes the sense out of the mere definition that gives difference of what needs and wants are. Living to generate our needs is the basics of our life and the dedication to pursuance is the value of providing what we want in life.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am a 54 year old female. when i was 26, i was denied health coverage. i had high b.p.was on some pretty strong pills. i've tried over the years to get it, but i can't even get a burial policy. had cancer surgery 18 months ago, if not for our university hospital i would be dead. now i have a broke back, how ,when, i don't know. i do know it hurts and i can't afford the care, i'm praying once again for some relief. we need health care,if we had had it then, myself and people like me wouldn't be as injured as we are.we would be a lot more productive and happy!

Guest's picture
Annoyed at the author and insane liberal view of life

This article actually makes me sick. So basically you want to be a writer, but you are not talented or dont want to work hard enough to make a living on your own? THATS CALLED A HOBBY.

Why are we paying taxes for you to practice your hobby instead of actually doing real work?

If you can be a writer and make a living on your own, GREAT! If you just want to be a writer but can't make enough at it, well then get another job and stop asking for the rest of us to subsidize your hobby.

Philip Brewer's picture

No, I want insurance—real insurance that protects me in the event that I get sick. I'm perfectly willing to pay for it myself, just like I pay all my other expenses. But I'm unwilling to gamble my finances on a wager that I'll only get seriously ill or injured one time in my entire life, which is what health insurance has been in the US up to now.

Guest's picture
PETER STRASCINA

Good for you, Mr. Brewer; I think everyone should have that option. But I don't think it should be at my expense or anyone else's. I too am "a creative", a commercial advertising designer, writer and creative director, and have owned my own company (which I started on a card table in my spare room at home) for over 30 years. As an employer, I can tell you from a different perspective that providing health insurance and other costly benefits to nearly 200 employees over the years has been killer, to say the least. Not that the government cares-- surely you must realize that the several reforms you mentioned, which are certainly needed and will doubtless benefit you and so many others, would have been possible without the government's takeover of the healthcare industry (which will be the inevitable final "solution"), tearing up the country, its foundation and what the Founders so brilliantly innovated in the Constitution in terms of personal freedom and opportunity.

The health care reform plan has little to do with health care as the banking bailout has to do with "protecting consumers", or that the takeover of the auto industry has to do with "saving American jobs" and a "signature American industry". No, but it has everything to do with power and control, via a larger scheme to literally dismantle this country by overwhelming every established system and create from its ashes something most onerous and despicable-- in order to make as many of us, our children and grandchildren as possible desperately and entirely dependent on the government. A scheme by which the U.S. will one day make Europe look like a Ronald Reagan dream come true.

I'm genuinely happy that you are able to pursue your creative bent-- your having and making that choice is an enormous part of what makes America what it has been for over 200 years (Mrs. Pelosi loves it, too, when people get to cash out and go off and paint, but for a totally different reason).

But, at the risk of sounding cynical, I'd ask would you not agree that your particular bit contributes greatly to the classicism being nurtured oh-so-carefully by an out-of-control Pied Piper of Marxism-Socialism? It seems to me that, if a person is led to quitting a "normal" job for the sake of his or her art, they certainly ought to be able to do so; the Constitution guarantees your right to take that other road. But, should it be at the cost of others' efforts, time, talent and treasure? What if the entire population decided to trash everything and paint/sculpt/sing/dance/write (I'm also a singer and song writer, never made a dime at it)? Who would pay the bills, I wonder? And yet, this is the ultimate model and goal being carefully and incrementally put into play by The Powers That Be. I guess there must be a puzzle piece in there somewhere that requires The Twenty Percent to keep producing so that The Eighty Percent won't have to-- oh, wait, there is!-- it's called Tax Reform ("you shouldn't be able to make so much money"). Tell that to Picasso, possibly not only the greatest innovator of contemporary art, but also one of the geniuses of marketing his work. And he was a Spaniard, which, in his time, was a dangerous nationality to be.

Whether you agree or not with any of the above, I nevertheless wish you well in your pursuit. If you could just keep it to yourself, many of us would greatly appreciate it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Dear serf,

You are the reason this country is going down in flames. You don't mind everyone else paying for your healthcare nor do you mind giving the government the power to ration care, which they will have to do as it is a limited resource. yes there are problems with the medical system in this country and the people asked their government for assistance in dealing with it, instead they took it over. When will you people wake up and realize that you can't have something for free and the government is not your best buddy.

Philip Brewer's picture

Gee. All I wanted was to be able to buy insurance that would protect my family's finances even if I got sick, and now I'm burning down the country. Bummer.

Guest's picture
Formiko

I like your view point. I AGREE with your viewpoint, too! The insurance companies are destroying the citizens of this country. But should it be a one payer system? (Like the UK?) Or should it be a "group plan", and the more you have, the more you pay? I am on disability insurance, so I can never work a 9-5 again, so I know the importance of this, but I also am worried that whenever we put a nation in charge of things of this nature, it becomes FUBAR & SNAFU. Ever see the quality of an HMO? HMO's are the PITS! Do you think they'll get better?