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by Keith T. Barber and Chris Church

REASONS FOR HEALTHCARE REFORM

TOEND ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT NON- URGENT CARE

We have a moral obligation to all of those in this country, whether they are legal citizens or not, to treat life-threatening injuries.But if an illegal immigrant is in a hospital receiving care that is paid for by a government program like Medicaid, that person should be stabilized and returned to their country of origin .

TO PROVIDE PREVENTATIVE CARE TO ALL LEGAL CITIZENS

Under any of the various healthcare reform bills that are before Congress, preventative care would be covered either by private insurance companies or by the public option health plan. Why does everyone agree on this? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately half of all chronic diseases are linked to preventable problems including smoking, obesity and physical inactivity. Providing preventative care to all legal citizens young and old will help us catch health issues that force the cost of health insurance higher for all of us.

CLARIFY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEALTH CARE AND HEALTH INSURANCE

The media and politicians have confused blue-color citizens by mixing the terms “health care” and “health insurance.” What this country is craving is “health insurance reform.” By having a public health insurance option I believe that we would be able to clear the air and have people realize that “health care reform” deals with the care we receive at doctors’ offices, hospitals and prescription drugs; “Health Insurance Reform” deals with access, cost and benefit structures of health insurance plans that are offered by private insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the proposed public option. Which one are you most concerned with?

PROVIDING ACCESS TO HEALTH INSURANCE

If your employer does not offer health insurance, you are a typical middle-income family or single parent, and maybe you or one of your children has a health condition like diabetes or asthma, how are you going to gain access to health insurance coverage? Either you’re going to beg your employer for a lower wage so that you can qualify for Medicaid, or you’re going to pay dearly every month for private health insurance that most likely will not cover your family’s most immediate needs. Basically, you would not have access to health insurance. This is a perfect example of why we need a singlepayer system of health insurance for all in this country. If the person in this example is on Medicaid she will deprive her family of opportunities to improve her lifestyle while we are all paying for her “free” health care. If she is paying the majority of her income to health insurance companies, she is likely to default on other financial responsibilities.

RESTRICT UNNECESSARY TESTING

By putting stronger regulations on doctors who like to run up their billable hours, not only will we increase efficiency in our health care system, but we will also be doing less harm to patients. A insurance executive once told me that a full body CT Scan does the same amount of damage as smoking 600 cigarettes at the same time.

ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORDS

By establishing a national system that will store and communicate medical records electronically, costs for all health insurance companies could be significantly reduced. In addition, it would be much easier for doctors to pull medical histories of patients in an emergency situation.

LONG-TERM CARE OPTIONS

Very few young people are taking advantage of long-term care insurance policies, which are very cheap for them to purchase. As we get older, premiums for long-term care insurance go up, while the likelihood of having to use long-term care increases as well. About 75 percent of single people and 50 percent of couples spend their entire savings within one year of entering a nursing home. Preparing for long-term care needs is a requirement for a secure financial future. Our country will face a long-term care emergency if we do not take care of providing some levels of insurance coverage within the structure of private and government health insurance options.

COST OF INSURANCE VS. COST OF CARE

Every few minutes you see a television ad or hear a radio commercial about rising health insurance premiums; or you hear someone complain about having to pay a private insureran exorbitant amount. But when was the last time you heard somebody say, “I went in the hospital after suffering a heart attack and they charged me $80,000 just to keep me alive!” We want quality care, but we’re not willing to pay for quality insur ance?

Countries like Canada, Sweden and Norway cover 100 percent of their citizens with health insurance options much like our Medicare system for seniors. Now yes, in Norway, a 20-ounce Coke cost $3.50, but health insurance is free! Do the math: If your insurance premium is $800 a month and you drink two Cokes each day, at $1 each you would spend $60 on soft drinks each month and $800 on health insurance for a total of $860 each month. In Norway, you buy two soft drinks each day for $210 a month, but you spend nothing on health insurance! That’s a savings of $650 every month, $7800 each year. And remember: If that soft drink cost you $3.50, you might not drink them at all.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG COST AND ACCESS

Everyone seems to agree that the “donut hole” in the Medicare part D prescription drug plan hurts seniors. It’s actually one of the few things the Bush Administration did to improve access to insurance. The problem: The donut hole created competition between private insurance companies, which offer plans that cover most of the donut-hole cost for a higher premium while offering lowercost plans that leave seniors paying full price for their drugsWhy not provide 100 percent “prescription” cost coverage under the public option if and only if we treat ourselves with homeopathic treatments instead of medications that have more side effects than active ingredients? Until we stop injecting ourselves with harmful toxins we will forever be dependent on pharmaceutical companies for our ailments.

TAX BENEFITS FOR CARRYING HEALTH INSURANCE?

Business owners are able to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums off of their taxes. So for every 10 employees they spend about $125,000 each year on premiums putting them in a strong position when at tax time. But if a family pays $12,000 each year for health insurance that they may never use, what do they have to show for it? How about we set up a different risk pool for individuals under 30, another for those between 30-45, another for 45-60 and another for 60-68 years old. Each would have many more healthy members than unhealthy. We provide two public options to all US citizens, one strong benefit plan where the individual would have to pay 50 percent of the normal premium for that “risk pool group” and another where the individual would pay no premium but would have a higher deductible health savings account. This would provide insurance coverage to every American while also promoting the advantages of saving money from a young age and therefore strengthening our economy. In addition, both plans would cover preventative care at 100 percent regardless of the plan chosen.

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