Health Care the American Way
It seems to me that the problem with most “conservative” commentators on the Obama health care reforms and on the health care situation in general is that few of them have been victims of the current system. They have had good health insurance through their employers all their lives and think that anyone outside the system is a deadbeat or an illegal immigrant. Having experienced first hand the downside of the system I would like to make a few comments. I would note that the current insurance structure basically stinks. It denies insurance to those who actually need it unless they are employed by a company that offers that benefit (fewer and fewer do). Insurance companies exist to make money, not to make people healthy, and there is no money to be made in paying out for those who are sick.
My own experience with health insurance has been nearly always bad. I have been self-employed since leaving the government seventeen years ago and my health insurance has come through my wife’s employment. Being self-employed and not having any actual employees, health insurance companies will not let me buy into a group plan, meaning that any attempt by me to buy insurance directly would have cost roughly six times more than a group plan provided by an employer. My wife has lost her job twice and on each occasion we have only been able to continue insurance under COBRA by paying three times what it cost us when my wife was employed. My wife lost her job most recently last September and we began shopping around for insurance. My wife is in her mid fifties and I am in my early sixties and we have some health issues, though nothing serious, as I’m sure is true for most people our age. We were initially denied any insurance coverage but eventually were offered a health insurance policy, reluctantly, by Anthem at $3000 per month, which we could not even begin to consider. We finally opted for catastrophe insurance at $700 per month which offered basically no coverage unless we were to have a serious health problem, in which case the insurance would kick in after we had spent $6000 of our own money.
So we were in a situation where we had enough resources to pay for insurance but the health insurance industry was doing its best not to provide us with coverage because it assumed, correctly, that we might possibly cost more than we would be bringing in. I do not favor a national health system but I do believe that every citizen should be able to buy into a group insurance plan without the insurance companies denying benefits for health conditions and for employment status. There is something very wrong with the current system which, I think, can be fixed without nationalization by improving access to what already exists. For what it’s worth, I know of a fairly large number of people my age more-or-less who are in health insurance limbos very similar to ours. They have fallen in the huge crack between employer provided group health plans and medicare and are now finding themselves either with no insurance or insurance that covers nothing and still costs many hundreds of dollars per month. It really is an uncaring system that only concerns itself with the bottom line.