Thursday, September 10, 2009

Barack Obama's Health Care Speech

I debated about whether or not to post anything regarding President Obama’s health care speech last night. In fact, I actually had another posting scheduled for this morning, but I have rescheduled it for another day.

There were a few things he spoke about that I could find some agreement. Some of the horror stories he told of people losing their insurance are disgraceful. To think that a man could lose insurance because he did not report gallstones that he did not know he had is absurd. I also like the idea of doing something about deductibles and out of pocket expenses. Right now, I am looking at going to a better plan when open enrollment rolls around next month because of deductibles. Currently, I am putting off visits to the doctor because I can not afford the deductible if the doctor decides to order tests.

There are a couple of things he said, though, that bother me. He stated that if you have health care through your employer that there is nothing in the plan to require you to change what you have. While technically that is true, I wonder about the practicality. I had mentioned before that they were talking about an 8% payroll tax for employers that do not offer health insurance. Studies have shown that employers, on average, are spending 10-12% of payroll on health insurance. If the cost of the tax is less than the cost of the benefit, I can see businesses opting to pay the tax.

Another issue is the president’s attack on the partisanship that exists in this debate. You get the feeling, that it is the Republicans he is singling out on this issue. He claims he wants the best ideas from both sides of the debate. His Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate continue to block and vote down any suggestions brought forth by the Republicans. My question is who is being partisan? The left is being just as partisan as those on the right.

On a side note, I have to wonder what thoughts immediately went through the mind of Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina after he yelled out, “You lie” when the president talked about illegal immigrants during the speech. I can’t help but think it went something like this. “Oh shit! Did I really say that out loud? I guess I forgot to turn on that little filter that keeps me from blurting things out. I really fucked up this time.”

Note: I may edit or add to this post later today.
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  1. I didn't watch the speech when it aired live but I did read it and watched parts on the news later. The thing is health insurance used to be a benefit, something companies offered to people to incite them to work for said company. Now, it's considered an entitlement. I agree something needs to be done about the system but from what I have seen the only thing I can see changing is that fewer people are going to go to school to become doctors and the ones who do may not be the best qualified. I wish I'd seen the "You Lie" part.

  2. My sentiments exactly. To counter what Jen said a little bit, we were always led to believe that when we were hired, we are to consider benefits part of an entire "compensation package." In other words, without the benefits, our salaries would be higher. If my employer ditches medical coverage, they're going to have a hard sell if they don't also increase our salaries to reflect the reduction in overall compensation.

    I don't actually think this bill will get passed "as is" and I don't think my employer is going to leave us all flapping in the wind. We are one of the largest employers in my area. Time and circumstances will tell, though.

  3. Jen, I guess you have to answer the benefit/entitlement question for yourself. If someone is unfortunate enough to lose their job, and they do get sick, do we say "tough luck" or do we help that person? And if we help that person, to what degree? Do we help them with their sickness, but force them into bankruptcy because they can't pay. Bankrupty protection itself can perhaps be considered an entitlement as it exists today (although the government isn't paying the debt; creditors effectively pay the debt). And if we do help that person, how does that help get paid for?

    Kathy, there is no doubt that a drastic change in health care is going to upset the balance of things as we know it. I have always been fortunate enough to be employed, and despite a lot of frustrations, I have generally had good health care. And I don't think that anyone on either side of the aisle believes that the current problems can be addressed with a little nip there and a little tuck there. Everyone is in agreement that health care as we know it is unsustainable. Something does have to change. The argument is over what that change should look like.

    Dickster, I'm probably preaching to the choir when I say that putting off tests because of deductibles is a clear sign of a broken system. We need you to stick around for a while so I have someone to argue with.

  4. Jen and Kathy, I am sure that there will be employers who will continue to offer insurance as a benefit, but I can definitely see some opting out. How rampant remains to be seen.

    Mike there are definitely things in the system that are broken, but not sure they warrant the government running health care. Part of my situation is my own fault in not looking at all my options as carefully as I should have. Last year I had a test done and ended up being responsible for over $300 towards the test. It was too late to switch plans for this year.

    Here is another example of how convoluted my current insurance is. I called to see if a test would be covered or if I would have to pay towards my deductible. If my doctor sent me to get the test as part of a wellness visit it would be covered, if they sent me because they thought there might be something wrong, it would not be covered. Same test, different reasons, different payment from insurance. Insane

  5. It could be worse. Wilson could have shouted "I FUCKED YOUR MOTHER!"

  6. Dickster, I had the opposite problem with my insurance. An eye check-up/wellness visit was not covered, but if I went to the eye doctor because of a problem with my eyes, it was covered.

  7. yes, that would have been highly inappropriate, Matt

    Insane, Isn't it Mike



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