On September 9, President Obama gave a speech to the joint houses of Congress laying out his plan for health care reform. No matter what your personal politics, the outcome of such reform regulation is going to affect us all. With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to lay out some of the basic tenets of the President's plan, at least as it was outlined in the speech. A full transcript of the speech can be found here.
According to the President, his proposed changes will:
- Not require the Americans who already have health insurance through their job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA to change the coverage or the doctor you have.
- Make it against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition.
- Make it against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or “water it down when you need it the most."
- Prevent insurance companies from placing an arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or in a lifetime.
- Place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses
- Require insurance companies to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies.
- Creating a new insurance exchange, "a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices."
- Provide tax credits, the size of which will be based on need for those individuals and small businesses who can't afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange.
- Immediately offer low-cost coverage to Americans who can't get insurance today because they have preexisting medical conditions, in order to protect them against financial ruin if they become seriously ill.
- Require individuals to carry basic health insurance.
- Require businesses to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still can't afford coverage, and 95 percent of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements.
- Not insure illegal immigrants.
- Have no “panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens.”
- Use no federal dollars to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.
- Create a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange that is only an option for those who don't have insurance.
- Have a public insurance option that is not funded by the tax-payers, but is instead self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.
- Not add anything to the national deficit. There will be a provision in this plan that requires Congress to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings they promised don't materialize.
- Cost around $900 billion over 10 years, that will be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system, and using revenues from drug and insurance companies.
- Charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies, which will encourage them to provide greater value for the money.
- Protect Medicare. The Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan.
- Create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more in the health care system.
- Reform current medical malpractice regulations.
So what did you think of the speech? Do you think all these goals are realistic or realizable. What would your ideal health care system entail. All comments are welcome