Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fallout from the passed health care bill

Since the health care bill passed, there have been a lot of headlines — some grumbling, some praise, and some political posturing from politicians and insurers alike.

In one particularly scary headline, the health insurance companies claimed they had found a loophole and were therefore not going to comply with the requirement that they immediately start covering children with pre-existing conditions. This ought to show how blatantly evil the insurers are, that they would flat-out state that they weren't going to cover sick kids! I mean, how heartless can you be?

Luckily, the White House was able to put enough pressure on them that they changed their tune:

Insurers to Comply with New Rules for Children

In other news, a measure was just passed to alter a few parts of the health bill:

It also eliminates special deals, such as $100 million to help Nebraska pay for its share of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program.

In addition, the reconciliation bill will change the way college students borrow money from the government. Previously, government-sponsored student loans were issued by banks, which contributed to a lot of students' confusion as to whether their loans were from the government or from the bank. Banks were basically taking advantage of the government-back student loan program to sell students on more expensive, private loans. That will end now, as the reconciliation bill takes government backed loans away from the banks — from now on, students will get their loans through the schools, eliminating confusion and saving the government a lot of money.

I'm not really a fan of bills that contain a little bit of everything, because I think they tend to confuse the issue. Even if the student loans stuff has nothing to do with the health bill, though, in this case I think it's a good thing!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health care bill passed!

I meant to blog about this sooner but I have been too busy to get it done. It seems President Obama's renewed attempts to push the health care bill worked, because it passed on Sunday and was signed into law today! Here's an excerpt:

The package of changes would provide coverage to 32 million people through Medicaid, subsidies to families and tax credits to small businesses that can't afford to cover their workers. It would pay for the expansion with the Medicare cuts, new taxes on upper-income workers and expensive insurance plans, and fees on the manufacturers of prescription drugs and medical devices.

It also would prohibit insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, dropping people when they get sick and limiting lifetime benefits. Children could be covered on their parents' policies up to age 26, and seniors would receive improved coverage for Medicare prescription drugs. Most individuals would be required to have insurance, and businesses with 50 or more employees would have to provide it or pay a fee.

Sounds pretty good to me, particularly the part where insurers can't deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. There seem to be a lot of people who don't support the bill, though. Just today I was told that the law already protected me from being denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. Um... no. It didn't. Trust me, I know — I've been turned down by the health insurance companies before.

The bill also prevents the health insurance companies from dropping you once you get sick, which is a huge deal. Kids will be able to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, too, which is important considering how few kids get settled in life by age 19. And — very importantly — the bill puts a limit on how much insurance companies can charge you in premiums for an individual (non-group) plan if you have a pre-existing condition.

Here is a good explanation of all of the benefits of the health care bill. And another article, in which the NYT answers readers' questions about the health care bill. And finally, a side-by-side comparison of the health care bill that passed with the original House and Senate bills.

I really think that if people would stop freaking out about the cost (which really isn't that bad, since they are cutting unnecessary spending on Medicare and increasing taxes on the wealthy to pay for it), they would find that this benefits them far more than it hurts anyone.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A new push for the health care bill

It feels like it's been a while since there was any talk about a health care bill. I don't like this blog turning too political — though of course it's impossible to talk about health these days without getting at least a little political — but I think it deserves at least a mention.

President Obama is really pushing hard now for the health care bill that gets passed. The message he is sending is that he doesn't care what happens in the next election, or the next, or the next, as long as Americans are guaranteed health care from here on out.

Obama Warns Democrats of Urgency of Health Bill

It's short-sighted in some ways, but in other ways, he's right. What other items on the Democrats' agenda are anywhere near as important as the health of our citizens?