Health Care Reform Bill – My opinion

I really hope that not too many folks jumped off bridges or balconies or ran in front of an oncoming train after the vote on the Health Care Reform Bill last night. People over react because they’re not informed, or they go based on incorrect information that has been presented by biased parties. It’s always easy to find the bad in everything, isn’t it? It’s obviously a touch subject because people are afraid we’re becoming a socialist country, and because they don’t like all the money being spent, but how about this: think of the TRILLIONS we have spent at war, and tell me what we’ve accomplished in the last 8 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. (the answer: nothing, really)

My opinion is that we need to take care of our own. I had a lengthy conversation last night with a Major League Baseball Player about this very subject. He, of course, is very right leaning. I am close to falling off the edge on the left side. We both agree that while it was nice to help Haiti, (and I did donate what we could), we do have to take care of our own.

Perhaps you’ve never been uninsured. Perhaps you’ve never had a pre-existing condition. Perhaps you’ve never worked for a company that didn’t offer insurance benefits. Consider yourself lucky. 32 Million Americans aren’t so lucky.

There are plenty of hard working Americans that work for themselves or for employers that don’t offer insurance. The cost to insure themselves and their families privately is far too high, so they go without. Someone gets sick or hurt, and they may forever be in debt. There are plenty of unemployed Americans who would LOVE to be working and have benefits, but they can’t afford the COBRA benefits on unemployment, and jobs just aren’t to be had for everyone yet. There are plenty of Americans who are grateful for jobs making minimum wage, and they have to cut out some expense to get by, and often it’s health insurance.

With the passing of this bill, the uninsured and self-employed would be able to purchase insurance through state-based exchanges with subsidies available to individuals and families with income between the 133 percent and 400 percent of poverty level. These individuals can not be eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, & can’t be covered by an employer. There is a sliding scale cap for what they will have to pay.

So you say “I’m just sick of all these taxes, and sick of paying for others who don’t contribute as much”. Well, you don’t have much sympathy from me for your lack of compassion toward those who are not as well off as you. I also want to remind you that during the Bush Administration, our country fell into a huge recession and our taxes didn’t go up. Wouldn’t it have been nice had our taxes been raised slightly then to have offset some of the big economic problems with our country? Had we not fallen into these holes of debt, the current administration wouldn’t be spending so much to help us get out. But the following lists how it will be paid for:
* Medicare Payroll tax on investment income — Starting in 2012, the Medicare Payroll Tax will be expanded to include unearned income. That will be a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for families making more than $250,000 per year ($200,000 for individuals).
* Excise Tax — Beginning in 2018, insurance companies will pay a 40 percent excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” high-end insurance plans worth over $27,500 for families ($10,200 for individuals). Dental and vision plans are exempt and will not be counted in the total cost of a family’s plan.
* Tanning Tax — 10 percent excise tax on indoor tanning services.

I’m a big fan of the Tanning Tax myself, as we all know that tanning beds lead to cancer, which leads to the need for health care.

Key components that I love about this bill include the fact that people cannot be denied for pre-existing conditions. Some people who now are un-insurable will benefit greatly from this. Full-time students can now stay on their parents’ policies until they are 26, which will allow more to be able to be insured through college and grad school.

Some people are complaining about the fine that will be imposed in 2014 for those who don’t have insurance. The fine would be $695, however some exceptions will be made for low income individuals. I understand that people think this is ridiculous, but with a government health program in place, why WOULDN’T you want to have insurance when it’s a given right?

There is no technical mandate for employers to offer health insurance, but for every company with over 50 employees, they will be fined $2000 per employee who uses federal subsidies to buy their health insurance. So basically, if you have over 50 employees, you must provide health insurance.

A lot of people are mis-informed that the reform means they will lose their current coverage and have to go on the government’s plan. You won’t. The only way you would lose your current coverage is if you would lose your job, or your company cuts benefits. Of course you could lose it if you quit and try to start your own small business, or perhaps if you got seriously ill.

The government can’t dictate what kind of care you get. As medical professionals (which I am), it is our duty to provide care to the best of our abilities and not deny care to save money, time, face, or anything else.

People like to (inaccurately) relate our government’s program to programs like those in Canada and England. The hospitals and doctors will not be government employees, like in England. Medicine will not be socialized.

What we have now isn’t working. We have 32 million + who are uninsured, people filing bankruptcy due to medical bills, the highest per-capita costs in the World, and worse health outcomes than most of the industrialized world. You can’t possibly tell me that THIS will make things worse. I know that people complain that there will be too many people on the government program, meaning long lines, poor care, death panels and then some – but do we know this for sure? We don’t. People are overreacting and freaking out over something they still know VERY little about, and something which has yet to be put into action.

So my recommendation – step back. Take a deep breath. Have a little compassion about taking care of our own. And relax. It will be ok.

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