Sunday, August 23, 2009

Health Reform and the Public Option

I am beginning to change my opinion on Health Care Reform. I agree that it is necessary, but I'm not sure if the public option, as it is written, is the way to go. In 1995, I had an interview with a local company. I was told during the interview that as long as my spouse had a job and her employer offered health care, I could not add her onto my health care plan with the company. However, if we was not employed or her employer didn't offer health care, she could be covered under mine. This was shocking news for me.

Recently, I was inquiring about my wife's health care insurance and she informed me that they changed the policy where she works. She cannot add me onto her health care insurance because my employer offers health care to their employees. This makes 2 companies with the same policy. I wonder how many more there are?

This leads to the government plan. Why would an employer pay for health care benefits if his employees can get it through the government? It also leads to the question...When did we get the idea that employees should expect health care from their employers?

Back during World War II, as the U.S. became involved in the war, with the goal of ensuring that production of weapons and supplies for our soldiers would not be disrupted by labor disputes or cause economic problems such as increased inflation and war profiteering. The War Board decided that it is was in our country's best interests to freeze wages and establish price controls, at least for the duration of the war. Unfortunately, the wage freeze made it much more difficult for employers to attract employees from a workforce that diminished as more and more workers were sent overseas for battle. In order to attract employees, company decided to offer fringe benefits and health care was one of the major attractions. At the time health care was relatively cheap and the benefits were tax deductible. Now we have become accustomed to employer offered health care.

One of the major problems with employer offered health care is that the public doesn't understand how much health care cost. People are aware how much they pay for their health care, but don't realize how much their employer subsidizes their premium payment. When my left my last job, I was informed that I could go on Cobra. The health care premium was $1,002 per month! I only paid $300 per month when I was working there! I'm sure the $1,002 was the group rate. I wonder what the individual rate would be? The dental premium was $80 per month. I chose to keep the dental since I our dentist told us our son would need extensive dental work soon and my new employer wouldn't cover major dental work until we had been in the plan for at least one year.

So for dental and health care, I would have been looking at premiums of $13,000 per year. For many that exceeds the cost of their rent or mortgage payment. Should we pay more for health care than we do housing?

Sure health care reform is needed and there are a lot positive things in the bill, but should we invoke the law of unintended consequences where employers decide to drop health care coverage since we can get it from the government?

Another issue is non-American citizens. Should they be covered? Aren't they covered now? When people go to the emergency room, they have to be seen. Who do we think pays the bill? We all do through higher health care costs. If the patient is unable to pay, the hospital has to aborsb the loss. When the hospital absorbs the loss, they have the charge higher fees to recoup the loss from their paying customers. An E.R. visit runs me $300 with insurance, I don't know what the regular cost is. This is one of the main reasons, we go to the 'doc in the box' for emergencies on the weekend. It's a regular doctors visit there and then visit our regular physisian if needed.

I have two more issues that have really bothered me. When my son had his oral surgery (this was when I was with my previous employer when their insurance company actually paid for the pain killers that go with the fillings), the total bill was $3,000. The first insurance paid about $1,000, but the secondary insurance paid $1. They said that since he was a preferred dentist, he agreed to accept $1,001 was total payment for his services. So this means, that non-insurance holders and non-MetLife insurance holders get stuck paying more for the same services we received.

When my son had with ear tubes put in, we got a bill for $7,000. The insurance company only paid about $3,000 and said that the hospital has accepted their payment as payment in full. Which means if we didn't have insurance we would have had to pay $7,000. These are practices I wonder about.

Mr. Illegal Immigrant is going to have more than a $3,000 dentist bill and a $7,000 hospital bill because he doesn't have insurance and lets things get really out of control and the public is left with more cost when he finally rolls into the E.R.

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