Friday, October 3, 2008
Health Care Sinks to Low Priority in Debates
The anticipated VP debate has ended and both candidates held their own, but there was barely a mention of one of the most pressing issues in the United States…health care. Health care inequities and the rising costs have been a concern of Americans for a long time. I know the Wall Street meltdown has eclipsed most everything but I once you describe the “orgy of Wall Street and the greed of big business” for the 10th time, it’s time to move on and talk about your policies for change.
Palin touched on the subject by mentioning the $5,000 tax credit McCain would give for people to buy their own insurance. Biden countered with a long winded (but accurate) explanation of how $5000 wouldn’t really be enough to cover a policy that now costs $12,000 and is currently subsidized with tax breaks to employers.
That was it…end of discussion. What wasn’t said is that McCain’s health proposal would eliminate the tax benefits employers now get so more people would be dropped from work based health care. It would be every man for himself on the open market trying to qualify for insurance, figure out what is covered and purchase policies on their own (with $5,000 credit).
For anyone who has dealt with their insurer and tried to find out what is covered, what their share of charges would be, how to get their doctors paid, how to battle denial of care when they are sick, the McCain plan puts more control (and money) into the hands of insurers. There are no provisions for universal coverage. There are no prohibitions on insurers refusing to cover sick people.
Here’s how it works now in the free marketplace. If you try to buy insurance yourself you must disclose all health risks as well as prior treatments. All past medical records are reviewed by underwriting. I’ve had patients refused coverage for pink eye, prior abnormal (but benign) pap tests, sinusitis, depression, anxiety, abnormal (but benign) mammograms, urinary tract infections, and hair loss. If you have had cancer, diabetes, hypertension etc etc etc you will pay enormous rates or be refused outright. This is called “good business underwriting” and for companies whose goal is to produce profits for shareholders this is the way it should be done.
Is this what we want for our U.S. health care policy?
I will be watching the next debate and I would like to see health care covered in detail, just like they talk on and on about drilling for oil. Everyone knows that is not a solution for our energy policy but that doesn’t stop the discussion. Lets bring health care back into the dialog.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 12:07 PM