side note: While not yet a major part of the healthcare debate, the author argues that the high cost of malpractice insurance encourages doctors to practice defensive medicine that costs up to $225 billion in unnecessary annual expenses. We have all experienced this at some point, your doctor tells you that you must do a certain test of procedure, and you look at him at wonder to yourself, “why”?
by Alan Portner
Congress will miss President Obama’s deadline for passing health care reform and go home on summer recess. Important changes to health care insurance and delivery systems will be passed out of Congress before the end of the year and finally signed into law.
The debate surrounding these changes will remain so contentious and complex, it is impossible to predict the final form that reform may take. Dozens of different factions have a dog in this fight, but a few puzzle pieces are beginning to appear out of metaphorically smoke-filled antechambers on Capitol Hill. We are starting to understand how the average citizen may benefit from reform.
Denial of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions will probably be outlawed. Lifetime limits on coverage look like they may go away. Rate differentials based on gender or family situation stand a good chance of being prohibited.
Age rating, which makes insurance so very unaffordable to middle-aged workers, will be restricted, but not totally eliminated. A 2007 – 2008 comparison of annual insurance premiums by the health insurance trade association (AHIP) says the average individual premium for buyers at age 60 is 438 percent more than premiums charged to buyers who are 18 years old. A maximum allowable limit of double the lowest offered premium seems likely.
A minimum acceptable package benefits has been left to be defined by the Department of Health and Human Services. Existing programs will be allowed to continue as they exist today, but plans that do not meet minimum standards must self-identify themselves to participants.
People who like their current plans will not be forced to change. People who like their doctors and hospitals will not be asked to change. Your plan may be more transportable when you change jobs. Continue reading