People on both sides of the aisle are raving about health insurance reform. They’re bragging about the end to the anti-trust exemptions and the regulations preventing companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or dropping people who get sick. But the big fat hole in the center of patients’ safety net is this: there is no clause in the bill preventing an insurance company from charging one person four times what they charge his neighbor with the same plan. Without a pricing cap, patients can still lose their coverage when they are unable to pay their premiums.
The reason the system is so disheveled is because insurance companies are insistent on maintaining even profit margins for each person, rather than having a high profit margin for healthy people, and then mild profits or even mild losses on those with medical emergencies. Companies would still make a healthy profit, but the exact numbers would be unpredictable until the bills come in at the end of each month.
Insurance companies, as well as the entire medical system have such a glut for money, that the priority is cash flow, not patient health. Doctors are ordering extra tests, prescribing overly costly treatments, and attempting to increase the number of hospital admissions, not for the benefit of the patient, but rather for the benefit of their wallets. Our health care system is wired such that doctors profit for each treatment they give a patient rather than for the recovery of said patient. In simpler terms, our health care system is motivated by spending on patients rather than healing them. With that motivation to spend, doctors are charging more to insurance companies than ever. Insurance companies, in turn, are raising premiums to unaffordable levels.
But the public option could combat unreasonable prices and the inability to afford care. It would provide constant and rational competition, forcing insurance companies to be rational, for fear of loosing customers. and if a customer couldn’t pay, he or she would be able to join the public plan, and not be left uninsured.
Our current health care bill, stripped of the public option, holds little potency in the long run. While no one can be denied coverage, if a person cannot afford to pay what the insurance company is asking, insurance is no more available than if it was outright denied to her. Essentially, without a public option, health reform is a failure. Only a few more people will actually be able to afford coverage under the new regulations than under the previous ones. Therefore, congress must pass a bill that includes a public option. If passage requires using the budget reconciliation method in order to preempt filibuster, then so be it. In the last eight years, no one let a lack of bipartisan support stop an agenda. The Republicans are trying to use a desire for bipartisan support against the Democrats. Back in September, several senators suggested that a bill would only be successful if it got between seventy-five and eighty-five votes. such a margin is nearly impossible, even for quite popular and overarching legislation. We who support healthy Americans over insurance corporations, we who would like to see that every american has access to health care, we who think patients should come before profits, mustn’t let senators in the pockets of big business get in the way of claiming what is rightfully ours: reform.