The House and Senate health insurance reform bills being debated this week have something for everyone.
Uninsured would have the opportunity to buy affordable insurance or get it for free. Insured would get better quality insurance with fewer exclusions at better prices and no chance of being dropped.
Small businesses would get big help buying insurance for their employees. Medicare recipients would get more help buying prescriptions and no longer have to pay extra to subsidize the minority who get privatized Medicare.
Republicans would get their wish to be able to buy insurance across state lines. Taxpayers would benefit from lower deficits and less waste. (Only individuals making more that $250K or $500K Senate/House would pay more.) Both bills would provide assistance in buying insurance to people below 400 percent of the poverty line, $88,200 for a family of four.
The bills aren’t perfect. Both allow insurers to charge more for older people; as much as double in the House bill and triple in the Senate. The Senate bill allows for charging smokers as much as 1.5 times as much as non-smokers. Both bills exclude coverage for women in need of abortion. These provisions violate the concept of solidarity that is essential in a system of universal health coverage.
Both bills allow for significant out-of-pocket expenses. The House allows for 30 percent and the Senate 40 percent of expenses to be paid in deductibles and co-pays. People would remain at risk of bankruptcy due to medical costs.
The Senate bill allows insurance companies to remain exempt from federal antitrust laws. This makes cartel formation and price fixing a real possibility.
Join me in calling and/or writing Senators Boxer and Feinstein and letting them know what you like and dislike about these bills.
For additional information, e-mail me at email@example.com