Monday, July 27, 2009

What would This Health Care Reform look like?

Since I keep hearing fears of "Socialized medicine" and frightened voices fearing that we will have a system like Canada's and Great Britain's, I thought it might be good here to actually explain the proposed reform that is on the table.

According to Paul Krugman's latest op-ed piece:

Reform, if it happens, will rest on four main pillars: regulation, mandates, subsidies and competition.

By regulation I mean the nationwide imposition of rules that would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on your medical history, or dropping your coverage when you get sick. This would stop insurers from gaming the system by covering only healthy people.

On the other side, individuals would also be prevented from gaming the system: Americans would be required to buy insurance even if they’re currently healthy, rather than signing up only when they need care. And all but the smallest businesses would be required either to provide their employees with insurance, or to pay fees that help cover the cost of subsidies — subsidies that would make insurance affordable for lower-income American families.

Finally, there would be a public option: a government-run insurance plan competing with private insurers, which would help hold down costs.

And according to a recent blog post from Robert Reich:

the four key elements that have already emerged from House committees: (1) a public plan option, (2) a mandate on all but the smallest employers to provide their employees with health insurance or else pay a tax or fee (so-called "pay or play"), (3) a requirement that every individual and family buy health insurance, coupled with subsidies for families up to 300 or 400 times the poverty level in order to make sure it's affordable to them; and (4) a small surtax on the top 1 percent of earners or families to help pay for this subsidy ("tax the wealthy so all Americans can stay healthy.")

This is the reform being discussed, not anything like the system in Canada and Britain. So enough nonsense.

The most contested part of this reform plan is the Public Option (The Health insurance industry, the GOP and "Blue-dog" democrats are working hard to eliminate it from the final bill). If the Public Option does not go through there can be no real reform. Why? Check out the following two links to understand why:

Charlie Rose: A Conversation with Paul Krugman

Bill Moyers Journal: Robert Reich

Note: As far as this comparison with Canada goes. Canada is a particularly poor example of universal health care via single payer. Other single payer systems are far better than Canada and don't have its problems (e.g. scarcity of resources and long waits) - France for instance. And yet, despite this, the data still shows that Canada's system is largely superior to the United States; click here to compare

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