Why health insurance reform really matters

Why health insurance reform really matters

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Just occasionally we get a really heartfelt comment on THCB that is passionate and rational, and reminds us why for all the bile spewed about the topic the essential part of the health care bill—making insurance available to everyone—is really important. This comment from CF Mother was left on my post “Thinking the unthinkable” on Friday. And of course, this could happen to anyone—including you. And frankly the Democrats need to do a better job explaining this—Matthew Holt

Questions for those who do not support health care reform:

Twenty years ago our cheery toddler was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Afraid, we dug into the medical research to understand the disease that threatened his future. We healed through optimism, roused by the news eight days after his diagnosis that the gene that causes CF had been found, opening the door toward a cure. We knew that our heroes, the researchers and his doctors, would continue to find ways to protect his future. We were no longer afraid of CF.

The fear that woke me in the night was of losing our health insurance because our son was on every insurer’s no-fly list. While my husband’s profession was periodically roiled by layoffs, he decided against the security of opening his own firm because the cost of carrying coverage for our eldest son was too high, the thread on which his health care dangled too slight.

With luck, we made it through our son’s childhood without a gap in coverage. Now 22, he’s kept his health thanks to his medical care and his own glorious determination not to allow CF to cramp his style. He earned his black belt, went to college, joined a fraternity, and drives a 1961 Buick LeSabre. He spent a year in China, learned Mandarin, and discovered that even the drug that enables CF patients to digest food couldn’t help him digest raw sea cucumber. He backpacked through Thailand, had his wallet and passport stolen, but managed to hang on to his meds. This spring he will graduate with a degree in chemical engineering from UMass Amherst’s honors college, with a concentration in biochemistry. His resume includes summers researching the transmembrane conductance regulator, the protein channel in our cells that, when malformed, causes cystic fibrosis.

We can’t wait to see what this kid is going to do next. Next, however, has filled me with that old middle-of-the night fear. Our son will age off our family policy in April. He must shape his future not according to his dreams and ability, but in ways that will ensure that he keeps his health insurance. He must find an employer with health benefits that will hire a new college graduate in a poor economy. Or he must extend his full-time student status until he’s 25, putting off career plans and his desire to support himself. Despite his wanderlust and world-wide opportunities, he must remain a resident of Massachusetts, an isolated island where CF patients are not pariahs to health insurance companies.

I tell our story not because it is unique. Other families have been harmed, rather than merely threatened, by the ruthlessness of American health insurance. I tell it to ask a question. It is for you, the person reading this who does not wish the current effort to reform health care to succeed, who calls it “Obamacare” and “socialized medicine”. Help me understand your position, because I am mystified.

Are you a parent? Do you know that the bill under debate will prevent insurers from dumping people with pre-existing conditions, like my son or, perhaps, someone in your family? Do you believe that anyone who needs health care can get it somehow, or that illness happens only to other families?

Are you a fiscal conservative concerned about cost? Do you realize that the current system discourages small business development and blocks young adults’ opportunities to succeed, the foundations of a growing economy? Do you believe access to health care is not as essential as access to education in preparing our next generation of skilled workers?

Are you are an insurance executive? Do you devise new ways to make it difficult for my son to obtain prescriptions and services as cost-saving measures? Would you prefer to cover the cost of his lung transplant, because he has not been able to get the treatments he needs to stay healthy? Or have you decided that the ultimate cost-saving measure is to let CF patients and other chronic burdens to your bottom line die young?

Help me understand why, rather than reforming the American health insurance system, we should turn our backs on my son and the promise he and other young Americans like him offer all of us.

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26 Comments on "Why health insurance reform really matters"


Guest
Jul 5, 2011

As a good Newbie, I am always glad to find posts to help me Thank you

Guest
CC
Mar 15, 2010

I am appalled at the post by Nate. The CF mom isn’t asking for a handout here. I too have a child diagnosed with CF at the age of 18. One prescription alone cost $1,200.00 a month. This medication will be needed by my daughter for the rest of her life. Who can afford that amount? I know that I can’t and as a full time college student she is unable to work enough hours to afford the medication herself. The issue here isn’t the fact that anyone is looking for a handout…the issue is the high cost of health care and medicines in this country. It is a sad moment when one medication alone is more than a months rent payment and close enough to being a mortgage payment on a modest home. What is our nation coming to when we are so concerned with helping third world countries but fail to be able to tend to our own children’s needs.

Guest
sarah
Mar 14, 2010

This is so American, talking of humans that might possibly die without healthcare, as a price tag. Out of all the developed countries, this might be the most religious country. Yet so selfish and only concerned about money. How funny the irony is. Especially Nate who left a comment where he said he is scared people will take advantage of the system, and not paying for insurance until they get sick. This is the core of the right winged mentality; there is always a fear of some evil creature lurking around the corner, waiting to take everything you have. Wake up people; we do not live in the wild wild west anymore. This is enough; I’m going back to my country Sweden, where we care about each other!!!! And where all the politicians are old teachers and professors, who create policies that help the people.

Guest
ChristineWithRegence
Feb 9, 2010

This video makes you wonder about the strangeness of our health care system:
http://www.whatstherealcost.org/45secondstoshare

Guest

Nate,
The HIPPA laws you refer to apply to HIPPA compliant (mostly group) insurance policies.
Your creditable coverage in no way guarantees your approval for an privite major med policy. Neither does in waive your pre existing condition period (normally 12 months). In fact, most privite major med policies do not honor your creditable coverage.

Guest
Nate
Jan 19, 2010

nl, versus those mothers who freely admit their kids have no potential and should be garbage men? The mothers of all the gardeners and labors in this country when did they know their kids would never amount to anything meaningful like a biochemist or cultural link and thus aren’t worthy of CF mother’s kid’s special privilages?
What if her kid ends up q failure or normal and never does anything meaningful will we get a refund? What CF Mother and the rest of you are asking for is myself and others to subsidize them so they don’t need to worry about taking responsibility for their bills. In return for me working harder and more to pay his bills on top of mine your trying to sell me he is going to accomplish something great. I’m further suppose to trust you know how to identify these people. This apparently will be unlike welfare, Katrina, or public housing or anything other idiotic liberal scheme where by helping these people will lead to rich and just returns.
Everyone can’t get a free ride, it is not sustainable, I would think after looking at Social Security and Medicare you clowns would get this. You can’t pay the bills you already owe and your out wanting to give away even more.
notice your use of the world easily…so finally someone is honest enough to admit that he will always be ableto get insurance….it just might not be easy. I do appreaciaite you at least being truhful and not pushing the lies and propoganda CF mother and the others do but that leads me to one question. Do you think it is “easy” for me to make the extra money to pay his bills on top of mine? The left seems to think tax dollars are like tap water, just turn it on and there is as much as you need. You either don’t know or choose to ignore all the risk, long work days, 7 day weeks, and failures it takes to make the money you want to tax. When is my easy? When is someone going to pay my mortgage, where is my grant, when do I get a free ride? I don’t have it “easy” why should this kid? Let him get off his ass and put in half the work I have then come ask for a handout. If he is so smart and has such potential then he shouldn’t need it easy or should be able to EARN it himself.

Guest
nl
Jan 19, 2010

Any kid with a degree in biochemistry who speaks fluent chinese is not asking for sympathy or a handout, and is not going chasing bands on the public dole. The mom’s point–and it’s not a sob story–is that the young man has got a lot of potential to be a real contributor, but his chance to succeed is limited by his need to not risk losing his health insurance because he can’t get it back that easily. He can’t work for a start up and invent a new biofuel for the rest of us. He can’t live in China and become a cultural link for the rest of us. He’ll be fine. The rest of us will lose out in the long run because of the limited options for any smart young person with a pre-existing condition.

Guest
archon41
Jan 19, 2010

anyone recall the saga of the “Little Mother” floated during the Great War? A little mawkish, perhaps, but a remarkably effective recruiting tool.
So we need someone to fund for the young fellow under discussion a broad policy of insurance of the type typically provided by employers to employees. And just who might that “someone” be? The insurers? And they are not going to pass this expense to the rest of us? And what the many millions (including those covered by Medicare) who do not enjoy such broad coverage?
Well, you’ve driven me into a corner here, and I see nothing for it but to admit that nothing short of “universal single-payer health care” can avert a catastrophic collapse of the system.

Guest
Carl Chapman
Jan 19, 2010

To Lynn, Paolo, and anyone else out there who sympathizes with the hijacking of the American healthcare system. For decades Congress has had the opportunity to control healthcare – who gets it and who doesn’t – through legislation. It’s legislation that requires emergency rooms to take patients no matter what their ability to pay. It’s legislation that enables employees via COBRA to take their health benefits with them when they are laid off. It’s legislation that tells companies that executives cannot have a better plan than their subordinates. It’s legislation that sets coverage levels, the ability to model pre-existing conditions after mortality rates, etc. The Congress is pulling the wool over the eyes of the American public with pure smoke and mirrors. THEY set the rules and the rest of the parties to healthcare – facilities, payor providers (insurance commpanies), lawyers, pharmaceutical & medical supply companies,and the docs/nurses – have to comply. The bill being negotiated in Congress today is solely for hijacking a $2.5 TRILLION industry because Congress gets its own control from controling money. “We The People” can control the kind of healthcare we get by electing officials to represent the laws we want passed. This scheme was cooked up by Congress – hence, they want it passed before “We The People” have a chance to see the “devil in the details”.
To Lynn specifically, you say you trust your elected officials if you have a problem with your healthcare. Where’s your leverage to get your elected officials to do anything? You’re just one vote, and that vote may not take your official out of office for at least a year. Even if it does, the cancer represented by government bureaucracy won’t go away. It usually only gets bigger and more cumbersome. Why do you think that Federal employees don’t want to be included in the proposed healthcare system? As the adage goes, “If it’s so great, why isn’t everybody doing it?” Federal employees were in an uproar when a Senator threatened to include them in the bill. Nice. Our insurance carriers though, and their CEOs, can be held accountable for losing your company’s business or by conducting disreputable activities, can be called before Congressional hearings and the news media, and are already held accountable by the laws that “We The People” established and can continue to establish through Congress. If you remove the private companies whose interest is in shareholder return – which by the way is part of what pays dividends on retirement investments – then you only have Congress and bureaucrats to complain to. This is akin to letting the fox run the hen house.
Our federal government was established under the Constitution to be a system of checks and balances to avert one group (the President, Congress, or Supreme Court) from having too much power. It’s reference to “We The People” is put prominently in the beginning on purpose to reinforce that it’s the people who have the final authority. However, if you grant Congress the right to hijack private industry like healthcare, you grant them more power than the Constitution intended. If you think that they’ll stop at healthcare, you are a fool. Power begets power. They’re already criticizing the banking system – a system established under the FDR administration to recover from the Great Depression. These are conditions establishing socialism. Hitler was no radical conservative. He was a socialist. Look up NAZI in the dictionary. The difference in his politics is that he used the military to intimidate his political enemies. This group in Congress knows that the real power in America is in controlling the money. So even though Congress has less than a 35% approval rating from Americans, Congress and the President demonize the companies who provide us with jobs, innovation, healthcare benefits, and the opportunity to improve our lives – benefits that the Federal government cannot offer using legislation or its control of our tax dollars. You’re buying into the bs of the biggest snake oil salesman ever created – the politician. The Germans & Italians in the 1930’s bought into the same bs and look where it got them. Oppression and subjugation. We are headed down the same path, just under different mechanisms. Our tax dollars are the Holy Grail to career politicians. You think that I’m an alarmist painting an unrealistic picture? Do a little review of history and you’ll see that I’m correct.
What we need to do is pass term limit laws to keep politicians from making a career of public service so they can have such absolute power. Wake up.

Guest
Nate
Jan 18, 2010

jlg I see you don’t know anything about insurance and just regurgatate the crap your feed. Not sure what they based this on but it doesn’t appear to include non state sponsored plans. i.e. in Nevada the local chamber sponsors a guarantee issue plan for small businesses. In Ohio they have health something pools sponsored by an organization with another primary purpose like a chamber that is exempt from premium tax. There are all sorts of options out there, proof that we don’t need government to solve this we just need government out of the way.
Paolo her son is covered by her husbands group policy so everything I said was true. Her sob story and gripes was nothing but lies and propoganda. If this is really such an important deal why does the left lie about everything? Why can’t you have an honest debate of facts instead of making stuff up that isn’t real. Her son is guaranteed access to insurance for life as long as be plays by the rules, that is the fact.

Guest
Jan 18, 2010

“Just occasionally we get a really heartfelt comment on THCB that is passionate and rational, and reminds us why for all the bile spewed about the topic the essential part of the health care bill”
I would argue that we get those more than “occasionally”…

Guest
jlg
Jan 18, 2010

Nate,
Please. Ignorance and lies?
“Almost every state has guarantee issue community rated plans as well”
11 of 50
http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparetable.jsp?ind=351&cat=7

Guest
Paolo
Jan 18, 2010

Kim, your post is right on.
The taxpayer should help provide a basic and humane level of care to all those in need along with strict supervision to ensure that the money is spent wisely. Then, people who can afford more can spend as much as they want on health care as long as it’s with their own money.
Instead, we have a system where some groups of people get unlimited amounts of wasteful care (and feel entitled to it) at the expense of others (usually the taxpayer), while others get almost no care at all.

Guest
Greg
Jan 18, 2010

Nate
You really need a Valium!

Guest
Paolo
Jan 18, 2010

** Nate said: “Since HIPAA passes as long as you don’t have a 60+ day gap in coverage you are guaranteed the ability to buy insurance. Your entire BS sob story doesn’t hold water.”
Not true. HIPAA only provides portability when moving to/from group insurance. HIPAA does not provide portability between individual policies. If you are chronically ill and your individual policy raises premiums (or treats you poorly), you are stuck with it, forever. No federal law helps you transition to another insurer.
Of course, you could get a job that provides health care, or you could get a job that pays billions, or you could win the lottery. That would solve the problem. Realize, however, that not everyone who is seriously ill is in the position of getting a good job with benefits.