Health Care Reform and You

The New York Times is running on its editorial page a rundown of the health care reform packaged called “Health Care Reform and You,” which explains very clearly exactly who wins and who loses if the bill in something like its present form becomes law.

Executive Summary

Who loses: The health insurance industry.
Who wins: Everybody else.

I really wish progressives who oppose the present bill because it’s not single payer would read this. People need health care reform to pass asap, and this bill really would make a huge difference to millions of Americans, including people who are already insured.

See also Paul Krugman, “Why Markets Can’t Cure Healthcare“; and Ceci Connolly, “Focus on Health Savings Obscures Other Issues.”

31 thoughts on “Health Care Reform and You

  1. I’m getting sick of all the blather. Just pass the dratted thing. I don’t care if it stinks. Just pass something. Congress isn’t capable of passing a good bill, or one that actually reforms anything, so this endless prating is a waste of time. When has Congress ever passed a bill that was worth the paper it was printed on? Just pass the thing.

  2. Kudos to the Times. (Perhaps Warhol’s comment about himself, “I am a deeply superficial person,” which I lifted long ago in my evaluation of media types – deeply superficial people – cannot be justly applied to all media types?)

    Maddow recently ran some numbers that should be blasted across every media outlet in the country. Minimum wage was recently raised so now those making it if they work 52 weeks/year and 40 hours/week will earn $15,800/year. Health insurance for a ‘family’ (not specific) will cost $13,200/year leaving the ‘family’ the grand total of $1,600/year to “live” on. I’d love to hear the naysayers to health care reform spin that one.

  3. I read the NYTimes article, this plan is awful.

    My family will still not have health care coverage under this pro-insurance scam. I and my wife and three children lived (comfortably) on $35K last year. The GOP-operatives-that-claim-to-be-Democrats scheme is to force me to buy an insurance policy that I can not afford. They do claim that there’s some ‘subsidies’ for my family, but we are simply not able to pay one single cent for an insurance policy.

    If it isn’t Single-Payer, my family will not have insurance, it’s that simple.

    Single-payer is my family’s ONLY option. Anything less than that means that not only will we not have health insurance, but the Fed will be fining us for not being able to hand Blue-Cross our life-savings.

    This plan, as outlined in the NYTimes, does only one thing: fine Americans for not being able to afford expensive health insurance plans.

    This is far worse than what my family has now, which is no coverage at all.

  4. (From the Broken Record Department*)

    In American:

    14,000 Americans a day are losing their health insurance.

    18,000 Americans a year die because of lack of health insurance.

    60% of bankruptcies are tied to medical bills.

    75% of those bankruptcies tied to medical bills were of Americans who had health insurance.

    The US is behind dozens of other countries on multiple health metrics.

    We’re behind 49 other countries for life expectancy (how long you’ll live).

    We’re behind 43 other (and the entire European Union combined) for infant mortality rate.

    Our US health system is behind 36 other countries.

    The corporate-medical-industry is a MONOPOLY that is NOT competitive and loots Americans by rationing health care.

    Those that have health care can lose it on the whim of a corporate bureaucrat “rescinding” health care.

    25 MILLION Americans are UNDERINSURED.

    Over 46 MILLION Americans are UNINSURED.

    And America pays twice as much as other industrialized countries for worse results that covers fewer people.

  5. It is so strange that we can find the money to make war in far off lands, then pay to rebuild what we destroy, we can find money to give exotic weapons to other “friendly” countries, we can find money to fund political races and associated celibrations, but when it comes to health care, the money is too tight.
    This is like a man having a family he neglects while building a giant gun collection, spending money on his go-fast boat and corvette, and neglecting to maintain his home.Crazy.

  6. A counter argument is here, Friday’s Bill Moyers Journal. One of the experts, Dr Marcia Angell, from Harvard Medical School, argues that it’s a huge giveaway to Big Pharma and the insurance companies. It’s telling that Pharma has trotted out Harry and Louise again, this time in favor of the “reform” going through Congress. Angell strongly comes out for single payer, and says at the end she would rather see Obama go down in flames fighting for what really needs to happen – single payer – than for a bill that basically enriches the existing oligarchy even further.

    I’m kind of torn. A big difficulty – highlighted in the program – is that we don’t really know the details of this bill. Is it better to push for a reform that’s so heavily compromised or is it better to fight for what you really want even if it means defeat? Will the heavily watered down bill really save money? Will it really position progressives to better fight for single payer down the road, or will it merely solidify the opposition even further?

    One of the huge flaws that I see in Obama’s approach is being too conciliatory to the oligarchy, and basically not tapping into public rage. Had Obama come out for single payer or some system overwhelmingly supported by the public, and had he harnessed public rage, he would’ve stood a chance at winning. I once heard Ralph Nader quote Saul Alinsky, who said “the only way to defeat organized money is through organized people” – this is entirely lost on Obama and the Democratic elite, and so we wind up with these milquetoast reforms that are basically giveaways to entrenched power. Ian Welsh, a few days ago, said that no good bill has come out of Congress this year – they’re all heavily compromised with lots of money passed out to special interests to buy them off. This health reform bill is no different.

    Another dimension of this is 2010 and 2012 (not the end of the Mayan calendar necessarily) but the elections. Republicans are crowing over the chance to destroy Obama by defeating health reform, and of course I don’t want to see that either.

  7. Moonbat said, “I’m kind of torn.” I second that. I’m a pragmatist who realizes that I won’t get everything I want. The crybabies who scream ‘Single payer or nothing!’ are living in a dream world. Millions of dollars FOR reform are being pumped into the effort by big Pharma, and they intend to get their pound of flesh. I’m not fond of this, but if I have to make a deal with the devil for reform, ok.

    There’s plenty here to be nervous about, and I am. On the other hand, Obama points out that we are closer to universal health care than we have been in 50 years. The question is how far you compromise.

    One thing to consider is the potential for political advantage from defeat. If the final compromise bill fails to bring down cost, and does not include a public option or will not offer universal coverage, the president should veto and take the issue to the electorate in 2010 and campaign AGAINST democrats who sold out. There’s a huge risk in this; the safe move is to sign a bad bill and claim victory, where there was none, but we NEED real reform not a false trophy.

  8. Choices went out the window years ago. The naysayers to a single-payer system are like the guy who, due to cost, won’t spend X dollars to dismantle his house which is falling down the hill it is built on (not an uncommon occurrence here in LA) even when told that allowing it to continue down the hill, it will wipe out three houses in its path which will, in the end, cost him a helluva lot more than the cost of dismantling it now.

    Isn’t it part of the capitalist mantra that to make money (or at least not lose it) one has to spend money? Obviously, the politician/naysayers/free market speilers dissing health care reform are merely posers.

  9. Felicity – 1 in 6 persons do not have health insurance, which means 5 in 6 DO have health insurance. Most of them are satisfied. I have BCBS and the cancer treatment my wife got probably saved her life. Having insurance when my daughter had a brain injury probably saved her life. Most Americans are satisfied with the health insurance they have.

    If it was up to me, I would switch to single-payer, but most Americans in the 5 of 6 (insured) category would shit if they were told they have to give up their plan for an untested system. This is the political environment we are in.

    I don’t have land-line phone service to my house; the wiring in the house has never been hooked up to the local phone company. I have broadband for Internet and cell phones. If you had told me 10 years ago I was going to be REQUIRED to give up local phone service and REQUIRED to get broadband, and REQUIRED to purchase cell phone service, I would have opposed the change. Vehemently. We have to include the public option and we have to make it work; the death of the private insurance companies will naturally follow and they know it.

  10. Doug, five in six Americans may have health insurance; but, I am willing to bet that if those five Americans compared their health insurance policies, they would find them extraordinarily unequal. The fact that any of those five also could be dropped from their insurance policies–despite all the money they paid into it–any day between now and a year from now is very real. The health care that exists in this country so very unequal, America should be ashamed. The American health insurance companies are even lower than the scum of the earth. The sooner they are put out of business, the better. I would really like to see that in my lifetime; but, don’t believe I will. But, I do hope to see the beginning of the end before I die.

  11. Moonbat, Thanks for the link to Bill Moyers.
    I believe Marsha Angell is right about the non-profit delivery system.
    A commercial featuring a Thelma and Louise duo driving off a cliff might be a good way to drive the point home.
    My wife and i had dinner last night with a couple that each own a small business. They are very concerned about “socialized” medicine, then I reminded them of the hardships they are going through keeping the doors open AND having to provide health insurance for their employees, health care that cost more each year and covers less. I got their attention, but they remain concerned that a “Canadian” type system would limit “choice”.
    My wife and I have employer provided insurance. My wife works for a large insurance company, but they buy health ins. from an outside supplier.
    We buy health coverage for our 16 yr old daughter from yet another carrier.

    The Republicans want to privatize everything. Sadly, when profit is the motivating force, the knives come out.

  12. I’m genuinely confused: I agree that the current bill stinks, but I’m supposed to support it. I’m not pushing for single-payer, but I would like a public option–and from the NY Times, that doesn’t seem to be included in the bill.

    Right now, it just looks like Romneycare–and living through that in MA–it hasn’t really been an improvement: there was a one-time cost reduction, followed by spiraling medical inflation. It’s not portable between employers, and the protections aren’t great.

    And this was the plan strongly influenced by liberals. A Nelson-Bayh version of Romneycare will be worse. If there’s no public option, then kill this bill. Politically, >70% of people, including nearly half of Republicans, want a public option. Without a public option, we Dems will be viewed as ‘forcing’ people who can’t afford healthcare to buy crappy healthcare (which is how it played out in MA).

    Public option or nothing.

  13. Mike — read the NY Times again. The public plan is in there.

    Under the House reform bill, all employers would eventually be allowed to enroll their workers in insurance exchanges that would offer an array of policies to choose from, including a public plan whose premiums would almost certainly be lower than those of competing private plans.

  14. sorry to be a pain here, but the NYT is just whistling past the graveyard.
    1. the CBO estimates that the price of the public plan MAY be ten percent less. TEN PERCENT.
    2. the current plan provides that providers can opt out AND that the payment rates may (but may not) be set at Medicare rates–rates that are already driving providers away. And the NYT then says “we’ll pay for this by cutting Medicare rates”!
    So what is going to happen? Simple: a stillborn public plan because no provider in their right mind is going to agree to the payment rates. And guess what–they don’t have to.
    This bill is worse than no bill. Period.

  15. Our goal should be to cover all individuals through private health insurance. We are not prepared to turn our health system over to the government. Advocate for greater transparency in both quality and price information. Place both the decision making ability and healthcare dollars in the hands of the consumer. Support the Friends of the U.S. Chamber and sign the Health Care petition at .

  16. If you notice in the article, nothing starts before 2012, which means we will still be in this mess for the next 2 years, health bill or no health bill. I am under the impression that we need the health bill NOW, NOT IN 2012. And as an RN, I can tell you that my impression is backed up by the events I see on a daily basis. And to wait until 2012 for any help will be a potential deadly waiting period for many people. We didn’t wait for war, or for tax reduction for the rich, but help out joe public, well no hurry for that.

  17. “The crybabies who scream ‘Single payer or nothing!’ are living in a dream world.”

    No, we crybabies are living in the real world, you know, seeing all democratic countries with single-payer health care. Except US. The US is nothing but a dream world of fascism.

    • Susan J –PLEASE get your facts straight. “all democratic countries” do NOT have single payer health care. “Single payer” by definition is a system in which the government pays for everybody’s health care. Pure single payer systems are rare, actually. All other democratic countries have NATIONAL health care, yes, but most of them have mixed public and private health care systems, not single payer.

      Joshua Holland explains this pretty well.

      This kind of disinformation isn’t helping. I do think some of the people working against health care reform are ignorant of the facts, as you are, and have been led to believe that “single payer” is the only national option, when it is only one option.

  18. Maha, yours was an act of conscientious objection.

    Thanks for passing on both articles – Krugman is clear and sharp as usual.

  19. Thanks for clearing that up, Maha. Doesn’t change the fact the US is a fascist country by definition and example. I said I was a crybaby, didn’t I?

  20. Ooops: Here’s a direct quote from Joshua Holland’s article:

    “The reality is that virtually every advanced, wealthy country features a universal system — we’re the exception — that is financed through a blend of public and private means.”

    • Yes, Susan, and a system that is financed through a blend of public and private means is not “single payer.” It is “multiple payer.” A “single-payer” system is one in which all the health care is paid by the government.

      The point is that we could be messily and incrementally lumbering toward some sort of national health care system that is a mixed public and private funding, similar to the French health care system. This is not “single payer.” When you kick your heels and scream “single payer or nothing” it is not helping. I’d be very happy to go to single payer, but the real goal is a national health care system that gives everyone access to good health care, and that system doesn’t have to be single payer.

  21. I’d like to know who these progressives are that are holding out only for single payer?

    And, I’d like to add that the present Senate Finance Committee Bill has NO public option, and lacks ANY mechanism to control or hell insurance premiums, much less mandate care for all, coverage for all NOW, and no exclusions for pre existing conditions.

    Who ARE these progressives holding up our reform?

    Because the only reform holding up efforts I see are from Blue Dogs and the corporate feudalists who run and OWN this country.

    Methinks, this backlash against progressives is much ballyhoo about nothing.

    I’d suggest saving any frustration for the Senate and House, and The President.

    And passing a shit bill that only legislates MORE deregulation for the corporate overlords is just plain foolish.

    Obama BEST veto anything that doesn’t have the 4:

    1) Affordable coverage for all, NOW!
    2) No exclusions for pre existing conditions
    3) A FULL public option that forcefully competes with private industry
    4) Subsidy for those who can’t afford coverage = 400% poverty level

    Anything less falls into the ‘you should’a been careful of what ya wished for’ catagory and an utterly completed defeat for the middle class.


  22. Moonbat and Doug Hughes above cover it nicely for my personal position.

    Watered down legislation for the sake of doing SOMETHING is insane.

    It only entrenches the oligarchy/corporate feudalists.

  23. I’d like to know who these progressives are that are holding out only for single payer?

    Larue, meet Susan. Susan, say hi to Larue.

    Watered down legislation for the sake of doing SOMETHING is insane.

    Yes, which is why I wrote this post yesterday. If you’re going to comment here, try to keep up.

  24. Hi Larue. Apparently you and I have inferior knowledge to Maha’s, and subject ourselves to ridicule if we don’t or can’t keep up.

    Sorry Maha, couldn’t resist. Though, I could “please be better informed,” as you once told me. Guess I should have known not to respond to other commenters who comment here. Ignorance of the law is not a defense!

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