Posts Tagged ‘preexisting conditions’

Could Adverse SCOTUS Ruling on Obamacare Provide Opening for a Public Option?

June 19th, 2012

As Judgment Day for the Affordable Care Act draws closer – a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is expected in the next couple of weeks – legal observers, health experts and pundits are trying to predict what the fallout could be if the law is eviscerated or overturned. Undoing the ACA may not be that simple. Would the horrible consequences of suddenly snatching health care away from millions of Americans be enough to force Congress to open up Medicare to people under 65? Economist and former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich thinks so.

Reich believes that if the individual mandate is struck down, health insurance companies, arguing that they’ll go bankrupt if they are forced to continue covering people with preexisting conditions, will clamor to get the requirement dropped. The problem for the insurance companies is that the preexisting condition requirement is one of the most popular parts of the ACA and Congress may be hesitant to get rid of it.

This opens the way to a political bargain. Insurers might be let off the hook, for example, only if they support allowing every American, including those with pre-existing conditions, to choose Medicare, or something very much like Medicare. In effect, what was known during the debate over the bill as the “public option.”

I hope Reich is correct, but it may be wishful thinking on his part. Right now, President Obama and the Democrats are still pinning their hopes on a positive ruling from SCOTUS and they don’t seem to be looking at a Plan B – at least, not publicly. And the Republicans seem content to do little or nothing. Some health insurers are even saying that they will voluntarily uphold some of the more popular provisions of the ACA (I don’t believe that for a second). The “sickcare” industry would rather maintain the status quo – and their ill-gotten profits – as long as possible than to see lawmakers open up Medicare. The insurers know that once Medicare is available to more people, the program will be in even more demand, hastening the health insurance industry’s demise. In the meantime, what will the reaction be from the public? Resignation and despair? Or will the sudden disappearance of what little healthcare safety net the ACA provides galvanize the public into demanding Medicare for all? I want to see the latter happen.

Some believe that if SCOTUS deals a death blow to the ACA, that that will spell the end of health reform. This is nonsense. Ignoring the healthcare crisis in this country won’t make it go away. It will get progressively worse. More American workers will see their health coverage dropped. Fewer employers will offer health coverage. Millions more Americans will go bankrupt. Even with the ACA in place, out-of-pocket medical costs continue to explode. Lawmakers can keep their heads in the sand for only so long. As the ranks of the uninsured and bankrupt expand to an ever larger proportion of the population, public outrage will grow. At that point, the din will be impossible to ignore.

My Healthcare Story – Trish Sorenson

August 30th, 2011

My husband and I are self employed honey beekeepers. We fell on hard times with the disappearing bee syndrome and could no longer pay a third of our income on high deductible Blue Shield insurance. We had to drop it. Now we are 60 years old with a few common preexisting conditions. We have not even bothered to re-apply knowing we can’t afford commercial health insurance. Still, we could afford to pay a reasonable amount, and are delighted to see that California universal health care is gaining ground!!

Trish Sorenson

My Healthcare Story – Kathy Varnam

July 14th, 2011

I have always been responsible for getting health insurance, either privately, or group health insurance through my job. However, since becoming unemployed and the COBRA subsidy ending, I am no longer able to afford health insurance, and I have also been denied insurance because of minor preexisting conditions. I am not eligible for Medicare yet and do not qualify for charity care. Even when I had full coverage with Anthem-Blue Cross, I had to pay $950 for a colonoscopy. Wading through all the various healthcare plans in the past has been very time consuming and confusing. I have spent much time seeking and applying for healthcare coverage, and it has caused a lot of needless stress in my life, which is not good for my health. It would give me much peace of mind, save time and energy, and be affordable IF we had a single payer healthcare system based on equity and compassion instead of profit.

Kathy Varnam

My Healthcare Story – Eric Horowitz

May 31st, 2011

My family is currently on Cal Cobra. I have a preexisting condition and cannot get a private policy on my own. Because of the skyrocketing price of health care, we are forced to pay over $1,800 a month for a family plan with HealthNet. We have no other choice. This is a ridiculous and unsustainable amount of money to have to pay. Obama’s preexisting exclusion does not take place until 2014. What am I supposed to do until then? Everyone in California, or for that matter in the United States, should be able to get affordable health care coverage.

Eric Horowitz