Insurance

Healthcare Reform - Abandoning the Self Employed

Michael Collins

Before it ever arrived at the president's desk for signature, the health reform act contained a fatal poison pill.

The most creative sector of the business community has a dagger at its heart in the form of the relentless, unyielding, and over burdening cost of health insurance. The self-employed and very small businesses have seen their insurance premiums climb 20% to 75% since 2009. To purchase an adequate family plan, a self-employed person will pays an amount 50% to 70% of the nation's median personal income, $32,000 a year, for family health plan. This includes premiums, deductibles, and out of pocket expenses. That is twice the cost for relatively generous plans at medium to large size companies. Very small businesses, two to twenty employees, pay about the same (Image: Paul Henman)

Wasn't health reform supposed to take care of just this sort of inequity? Didn't the title of the bill say it all? The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act There is no protection for the self-employed when they have these stark choices facing them due to unaffordable insurance rates. They can give up working for themselves; buy adequate insurance and take a huge hit to income; buy a substandard plan and hope that whatever comes up is covered; or, abandon insurance at real risk to their health and, in some cases, their lives.

Vermont Single Payer: What It Is and What You Can Do

Originally published January 22, 2011 - 21:46

Ed. Note: The following is a diary written by Kossack DrSteveB and is reprinted with permission and without further comment from myself - CM1

Throughout 2009 and into early 2010, while the health reform we got nationally was being watered down by the corporate conservadems in the Senate, the Vermont legislature was moving forward. An important step was back in June 2010 when they decided upon the Harvard-MIT analytic group led by Prof. William S. Hsiao (who had done some of the modeling for Taiwan's transition from private insurance to single payer) and Jonathan Gruber (who did some of the modeling for the Obama-Baucus reform we got nationally).

They were charged with providing detailed policy and economic analysis of three possible proposals, two of which was to be variations of single payer. In Vermont, the least progressive proposal was the equivalent of the most progressive that the U.S. House of Representatives considered, being a relatively strong public option while leaving private insurance in place to compete. That was the charge from Vermont legislature, suggesting strong and real support for single payer. In November, Democrat Peter Shumlin won election for Governor running explicitely on a single payer platform.

Open Thread - If you only do one thing today...

This is the one thing that you can do that might make a difference in real health insurance reform:

Holy Crap! Leahy Introduces Anti-trust Amendment Today!

So what can we do to ensure this antitrust exemption amendment passes? For starters, you can pick up that phone and CALL your Senator to vote in favor of the Leahy antitrust exemption amendment for private insurers.

CALL YOUR SENATORS BELOW AT (202) 224-3121 AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT THE LEAHY ANTITRUST EXEMPTION AMENDMENT TODAY!

This is the amendment number below:
-Leahy #3823 (health insurance antitrust enforcement)

This is our chance to give another kick in the pants to the murder by spreadsheet industry, so please pick up that phone and CALL in support of the Leahy amendment today! Please don't let that amendment die on the vine.

Below the Open Thread fold is a little bit from the Daily Show's Back in Black taking on Glen Beck's little problem.

Goldman Sachs on Health Care Reform

In a comment to a post by Rabbi Michael Lerner in Tikkun Daily, Kucinich Denounces Health Care Sell Out by House Dems, Jill Schmidt asked:

I don't get why insurance companies aren't for a bill that will get them 21 million more clients. If anyone out there gets it, please reply.

Jill poses an excellent question that is shared by hard-working, thoughtful Americans from coast to coast. Fortunately, Goldman Sachs revealed the answer in a perverse ten page report posted in its entirety by Huff-Po reporter Sam Stein. (Kudos to Sam for his excellent work!)

The answer also explains why we must continue to work with the Democrats who actually voted for a health care reform bill to end the tyranny of insurance corporations over our personal lives.

SickForProfit.com: WellPoint affiliate Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield sues Maine for refusal to guarentee profit

 Netting $2.5 billion in profits last year wasn't enough for WellPoint, the nation's largest insurance company.

Now, WellPoint's affiliate, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, is suing the state of Maine for refusing to guarantee it a profit margin in the midst of a painful recession. 

Forward this video to a friend in Maine!

http://sickforprofit.com


 

 

Better give me what I want or prepare to suffer the consequences.  It is insurance, after all, but does this sound like a protection racket to anyone else?

A Fairness Doctrine for Healthcare?

I have been following the healthcare reform debate with increasing fear that this opportunity to produce meaningful change in the way healthcare is paid for in this country will be squandered.  Considering that this is the first real chance of making serious change since Harry Truman was President, it would be reasonable to guess that if we pass this one up, it will be decades before we have another such chance.  


Healthcare: Why Can't We Get the Congressional Option?

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

There's at least one thing that Republicans do much better than Democrats, and that's marketing their initiatives. It doesn't matter how regressive the idea, Republicans manage to frame it in a way that if you oppose it you look like you're either degenerate, or at the very least, un-American. For example, instead of accurately calling themselves "The Order of Religious Bigots Dedicated to Shoving Our Version of God Down America's Throat," they market their insanity as "The Moral Majority," and instead of being honest and calling themselves "The Public Vagina Brigade," they call themselves "The Right to Life" proponents (even though they're willing to let that very same life starve to death after it's born). Conservatives get a lot of milage out of their creativity in this area, and progressives would do well to follow suit.

The initiative to legalize same-sex marriage would have been much more marketable, for example, if it had been dubbed "The Right to Love."  And the same is true of healthcare reform. Proponents of a public option for healthcare could make life a lot more difficult for opponents in congress if instead of calling it "The Public Option" they simply dubbed it "The Congressional Option" - that way the issue would be self-explanatory. It would force every member of congress who placed the interest of the insurance industry over the welfare of his or her constituents to explain why they want to deny the American people the opportunity to opt into the exact same plan that congress and their families enjoy.

But I only bring this issue up as an introduction to a much more serious problem - demagoguery. All of the public manipulation above is symptomatic of a system that's out of control. It's a clear example of how politicians who are suppose to represent the people, are using marketing and public manipulation to feather their own nests.

AMA is only 20%, BUT other Doctor groups need to SHOUT!

As many of us have pointed out for years, only a small (15 to 25%), declining and unrepresentative number of physicians belong to the despicable AMA.


In fact, despite the AMA position, 59% of physicians support "government legislation to establish national health insurance"!

Health Care Reform in the House - Committees & Contacts


For several months the apparent public action has been in the Senate, first mostly with the Finance Committee (Baucus) and more recenlty, finally in the Health Committee (Kennedy, with Dodd and Harkin).


Late last week the House became more publicly active wiht Majority Leader Steny Hoyer having a publicized meeting with the leadership of the the three committees (and their subcommittees working to develop health care reform legislation in the House - Energy and Commerce Committee (Henry Waxman; Frank Pallone), Ways and Means (Charles Rangel & Pete Stark), and Education and Labor Committee (George Miller & Robert Andrews).


A physician "comes out"

What appears below is crossposted from Daily Kos, where it stimulated very lively discussion. I appreciate the invitation to post it here as well.

I was inspired yesterday by a diary on Daily Kos written by nyceve, an articulate and powerful advocate for single payer health care, to crystallize my thinking about health system reform in a direction that many other factors in my life have pushed me away from.

You see, I'm a physician, and a very close family member is a physician. I am a delegate to the AMA -- which, as you know, remains steadfastly opposed to a single-payer solution, although it has developed an extensive reform proposal based upon providing insurance to everyone via tax credits -- subsidized health insurance.

But I have come to the conclusion that our insurance based system is simply not reparable.

I've decided it was time to come out.

More Medical Bankruptcy-Have Insurance, Go Bankrupt

Dear President Obama,Senator Baucus and Speaker Pelosi:

Will your health refrom end medical bankruptcy?
Just asking...?

Sincerely,
America

What a great system we have in the United States!

As Senator Baucus and other continue to defend propping up the "uniquely American" system of for-profit private insurance, that system continue to cause a uniquely American event: Personal bankruptcy due to illness and medical bills. This does not occur in other countries.

There is a new, follow-up study (.pdf) on the subject just out today, in the leading professional peer review American Journal of Medicine:

Illness and medical bills linked to nearly two-thirds of all United States bankruptcies in 2007

Harvard study finds 50 percent increase from 2001

Most of those bankrupted by illness were middle class and had insurance

Follow me  for the sad gory details

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Downloadable copies of press release and info above is at the PNHP website here.

And again, downloadable full text of professional peer review journal article is here.

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Health Reform and Costs - They Are Lying To You (Obama too)

by DrSteveB

Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 05:52:11 AM PST

As President Obama said last night, controlling health care costs is critical. Unfortunately his proposal and that of Baucus, Wyden, and the rest of them do not control costs.

I am sorry to say that when they talk about the need to control costs and use that as an argument to promote their proposals (while keeping single payer off the table) they are knowingly lying to you.

A Flood of Controversial Semantics Over Fire-Related Losses

Last Friday, we posted an Open Thread with some videos that helped teach American Sign Language. Did anyone give it 'em a shot? They're reposted, below the fold. Today, this morning's Open Thread about Net Neutrality -- check it out.

Thiis piece, meanwhile, is nothing so educational or informative -- we're going to make note of a wonderful new way an insurance company is attempting to avoid paying out on a policy.

You might want to sit down for this.

From The Houston Chronicle (hat-tip DWoods12), insurance provider Great American Insurance Company is attempting to argue in a federal court that the smoke that killed three people in a 2007 fire in Houston was "pollution" and that surviving families shouldn't be compensated for their losses since the deaths were not directly caused by the actual flames:

Great American Insurance Company is arguing in a Houston federal court that the section of the insurance policy that excludes payments for pollution — like discharges or seepage that require cleanup — would also exclude payouts for damages, including deaths, caused by smoke, or pollution, that results from a fire.

[...snip...]

Great American has asked U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to find that the deaths caused by the smoke, fumes and soot from the March 2007 fire set by a nurse working in the building will not be covered by the policy because there is a specific exclusion for pollution and it mentions smoke, fumes and soot.

The insurance company that carries the primary $1 million policy hasn't made this argument.

Aside from the story itself, it is curious to note the last name of the reporter who wrote this story for the Chronicle -- "Flood." A woman named Mary Flood (mary.flood@chron.com) wrote a story about an insurance company trying to get out of paying a claim on a fire insurance policy. Talk about ironic.

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