Who knew healthcare insurance was so complicated?
Posted By Sparta Live | March 20, 2017 7:16 am
Democratic Dialog – by Debra Wines
I’m pretty sure most adults know healthcare insurance is complicated. If you have read any kind of insurance policy to determine if it would be beneficial for you and/or your family, I am sure it was somewhat confusing as to what will or won’t be covered. Health insurance is even more complicated primarily because of all the healthcare issues that may or may not occur. I don’t blame Mr. Trump for thinking it would be a simple process to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He, like the rest of Americans, figured the Republicans in Congress who had been trying to repeal the ACA for the past several years must have had a plan in mind that would work. Mr. Trump, like President Obama, made some naïve statements about their proposed healthcare plans.
President Obama said people could keep their plans and doctors, if they wanted to do that. Unfortunately, that wasn’t accurate because of changes that were made to “standardize the minimum” healthcare coverage, some policies changed. As is done every year with health insurance, some doctors change what insurance plans they will accept. Mr. Trump promised every American would get great healthcare, and everyone would be able to afford the best healthcare according to his plan. From what the Republicans have proposed, Mr. Trump’s promise will not be realized.
Healthcare Insurance is complicated under the best of circumstances. I’m sure most of us can remember when your employer provided you with health insurance, and every year, at enrollment time, you were able to choose what kind of coverage you thought you’d need in the next year. In the late 90s, things started to change, and employees starting paying for a portion of their health insurance monthly premiums. And we started paying closer attention to things like deductibles, co-pays, lifetime limits and out-of-pocket expenses and trying to determine what kind of coverage we needed. It started to get a bit more complicated to figure out what you may or may not need to determine what you could afford to pay.
Now, if you ever had to be hospitalized for anything, seeing the hospital bill was almost enough to send you to the ER for shock. Talk about complicated and expensive. When you finally got down to the bottom line about what you actually owed, it could still be a shocker, but it was usually a comparatively small amount of the total bill. You thanked God you had insurance.
Times have changed. Companies merged or shut down, people lost their jobs and their benefits. Some employers found out if they hired temporary workers, they didn’t have the burden of paying any portion of health insurance or other benefits. Great for employers – not so great for the workers who either had to do without insurance or try to afford an individual policy with monthly payments equivalent to your rent and or car payment. Then Barack Obama came along with the promise of developing a program that would help people who couldn’t afford healthcare.
The replacement healthcare insurance the Republicans have currently proposed does not exactly meet Mr. Trump’s promises of better and more affordable healthcare insurance coverage for everyone, especially the elderly under 65 and the working poor. I realize there will be people who will blindly support this new proposal because it will eliminate the “Obamacare,” no matter what kind of repercussions this replacement will have on people, possibly, including themselves.
Last month, when our federal legislators came back to their home districts to hold meetings with their constituents, it seemed the biggest issue the voters wanted to discuss was the repeal and replacement of the ACA/Obamacare. Some our own legislators refused to hold any meetings, and others would only allow pre-selected/invited people to attend their meetings. That was a slap in the face to many concerned people. Whether we voted for those particular legislators or not, they work for us, and we have every right to expect our concerns to be addressed. It is not enough for these legislators to only show up when they are running for re-election and need our votes. They are in Congress to represent the needs of their constituents. Unfortunately, because of the money from lobbyists, special interest groups and the corporations who are “people too,” the average American’s voice is getting lost.
Two years ago, when Gov. Haslam finally developed a proposal to expand Medicaid in the state of Tennessee, which would have provided needed healthcare insurance to over 250,000 citizens that fell into a gap not covered by the ACA, our state legislators refused to even discuss the proposal. In all her wisdom, Beth Harwell pushed it off to a “special committee” to give it further study, essentially tabling the bill until it was covered in so much dust no one would remember what happened to it. It didn’t seem to matter that the doctors, nurses and hospital administrators all supported the expansion of Medicaid. It didn’t matter that some rural hospitals had to close their doors and people lost their jobs. It didn’t matter that people who were sick couldn’t afford to get better. It didn’t matter if some of those people died.
Now the new Republican proposal will be even worse than what the ACA, with all its current flaws, is right now. The big discussion centers around affordability and how many people will lose what coverage they now have because they will not be able to afford any kind of coverage. The American Medical Association, various physicians and nursing associations and hospital associations have agreed this Republican proposal will be bad for them, their patients, Americans in general and our economy.
Representative Diane Black issued a press release, on March 13, 2017, stating “The CBO report shows that our bill lowers premiums by 10 percent by 2026…” I am taking just this one issue because it seemed to seriously contradict other reports about the increase for insurance premiums. Matt O’Brien, from the Washington Post, cited the CBO’s estimate for a 64-year-old making $26,500 per year would see a 750 percent increase in his annual insurance premium under the Republican proposal. Under the ACA, with a subsidy, his yearly premium is $1,700, under Trumpcare, it would rise to $14,600 per year, leaving him a gross income of $11,900 for the year. The report didn’t spell out what kind of deductible, co-pay or out-of-pocket expenses this man would be paying if he ever had to seek medical care, and I am sure it would not be an easy decision to make as to whether he enrolled for insurance under Trumpcare or opted out.
The CBO has also estimated the premiums for individual health care plans in 2018 and 2019 could be 15 to 20 percent higher under Trumpcare than they would under the current Obamacare – a far cry from Representative Diane Black’s estimation. Diane Black’s press release does not even address the issue of how many people will lose their current coverage if the current Republican plan happens to pass the Congress and Senate. The CBO estimates 24 million people would lose their health care coverage. I know there are people who resented that their taxes would be used to help anyone get health care insurance. I just have to ask the question to those people, are you OK with your taxes paying for Mr. Trump’s weekly “vacations” to Florida and the additional expense of having his wife and youngest son living in New York and also flying down to spend the weekends with him in Florida, not to mention whatever other family members and staff that travel with him. We are all footing those bills.
I realize that we are constantly being “reminded” that most of the problems in this country are due to immigrants, minorities and the poor, especially when we have people like Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) making ridiculous comments on national TV. He is not the only one who has degraded the poor in this country by saying their sense of priorities is skewered, and they don’t take responsibility for their actions. Even Paul Ryan has said if someone is too poor to afford healthcare, that’s too bad. I am amazed at a person who claims to be a devout Catholic but worships the fictional writings of Ayn Rand whose basic philosophy was self-satisfaction and greed, without conscience.
This main issue is people in America need good, affordable health care. Years ago, this was provided by our employers and unions. That is no longer the case. Now, we are looking at the possibility of affordable healthcare insurance to be out of reach for a good portion of our fellow Americans. If Mr. Trump really wants to make “American Great, Again”, he and his fellow Americans must start with making Americans healthy again by making healthcare insurance into less complicated process by joining the rest of the world and giving us single-payor health insurance for all Americans.