Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Should Fear Our Current Healthcare System, Not Reform

I’ve been watching these town halls. Many of the people going have all kinds of fears, ranging from death panels to rationing. But I think it’s important to remember some fears that people should have, but haven’t expressed much in the past weeks. Here are some fears you should have:

1. You could lose your job

That’s especially true in this economy where jobs are being shed left and right. That’s a problem when the healthcare system is based on employment. That means if you lose your job, you lose your coverage. We need reform that enables people to maintain coverage should they lose a job.

2. Your insurance company denies you care

While a strong majority of Americans are insured, many of them are under-insured, and at the mercy of their insurance companies. These companies have been known to cancel coverage for sick people, or deny treatment. They have every incentive to do this because their job is to make money. So if your treatment hurts their bottom line, they’ll try to prevent you from getting it.

3. Healthcare premiums rise to the point where you can’t afford them

Right now, workers pay $1600 more for family coverage than they did in 1999. Since 2000, the average employee contribution to employer health insurance has risen 120%. Pretty soon, many employees won’t be able to afford to contribute to their employer plans. And for people who purchase insurance as individuals, God help you. Premiums will be prohibitively expensive.

4. You’ll go bankrupt

50% of Bankruptcy filings are partly the result of medical costs. 1.5 million families lose their homes each year due to healthcare costs. What if you get hurt at work, or you need quadruple bypass surgery? There’s a chance you could become bankrupt too if your deductible or co-pay is too high. And your insurance company has every incentive to make that co-pay or deductible as high as possible.

5. High healthcare premiums erode your wages

As already noted, health insurance premiums are rising much faster than the rate of inflation. Many of those who have employer benefits think they’re getting a free lunch. They’re not. Businesses take money out of your wages to pay for healthcare. The more money they have to spend on healthcare, the less for you.

The statistics in this post come from the National Coalition on Healthcare.

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