O'Neil Perspective

Health Reform: What Happens TODAY

mikeoneil | 22 September, 2010 17:49

As of today (September 23, 2010), four provisions of the healthcare reform become effective:
  • As of today it is no longer legal for insurance companies to deny kids healthcare coverage due to pre-existing conditions.  Until today, insurance companies could refuse to cover you because your kid had a chronic (and potentially expensive) condition.
  • As of today you can’t get dropped by your insurance company because you get sick (they call this “rescission”).  Until today, that was legal.
  • As of today insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on your benefits.  If you get real sick, you know your coverage will not run out.
  • As of today your kids can now stay on your family policy until they turn 26.  (Pretty timely in a time of record unemployment for new college graduates, no?).
Which of these things do the opponents of what they call “Obamacare” think is a bad thing?  Of course, nothing in life is free, but this stuff was about as free as humanly possible.  The “cost”? Those without insurance will (in a couple of years) have to purchase it, with subsidies for low income people.  (None of these things would have bee possible without making health insurance mandatory).

What happens right now when some people choose not to buy insurance?  They avoid routine medical care.  And sometimes, as a result, they get infectious diseases that put all of at risk. Or they get really sick and end up in hospital emergency rooms. When they can’t pay, guess who picks up the tab?  All of us responsible enough to purchase health insurance, since hospitals put the cost of uncompensated care in their rate bases. 

Getting health insurance.  You’d think the advocates of “Personal Responsibility” would love it.  But when it is proposed by a President they don’t like, I guess the principle isn’t so important after all.

Health reform is a very messy compromise, reflecting the desire to appease lots of special interests who would have screamed bloody murder if any element cost them a nickel.   But this core tradeoff is good for everyone.
Michael J. O'Neil, PhD


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