Thursday, February 28, 2008

Check This Out

I thought I would attach some interesting links for you all to discover.

There was a New York Magazine feature (pretty recent, last year) about Young Invincibles. It is quite lengthy but addresses the real stories of what young people are doing to avoid going to the doctor because they don't have insurance. They also offer some links to places uninsured people can visit for a lower or reduced cost. (I am not sure that solves the problem of 20-somethings- a group often overlooked in the insurance game-being uninsured and needing medical help...but it's a step).

The CDC also released a report in March 2007 about how many Americans were uninsured between January and September 2006. Good info, kind stuff we already knew, but still.
Another CDC Report

Wire Tap Magazine also offers some articles and opinion pieces about uninsured youth:

I think these articles, reports and opinions are at least worth a look. Maybe they are wrong, but they offer perspectives from different sides.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Presidential Candidates Plans: Change....a long time coming (2)

2008 Presidential Hopeful Hillary Clinton also has a new health care plan for Americans. It is similar to Obama's plan, but still I question our 20-somethings options...
On her website, she details her ideas:
While she promises she has the experience and strength to insure "every man, woman and child."

Hillary's American Health Choices Plan covers all Americans and improves health care by lowering costs and improving quality. It puts the consumer in the driver's seat by offering more choices and lowering costs. If you're one of the tens of million Americans without coverage or if you don't like the coverage you have, you will have a choice of plans to pick from and that coverage will be affordable. Of course, if you like the plan you have, you can keep it.
Affordable: Unlike the current health system where insurance premiums send people into bankruptcy, the plan provides tax credits for working families to help them cover their costs. The tax credits will ensure that working families never have to pay more than a limited percentage of their income for health care. Available: No discrimination. The insurance companies can't deny you coverage if you have a pre-existing condition. Reliable: It's portable. If you change or lose your job, you keep your health care.

If you have a plan you like, you keep it. If you want to change plans or aren't currently covered, you can choose from dozens of the same plans available to members of Congress, or you can opt into a public plan option like Medicare. And working families will get tax credits to help pay their premiums. Insurance companies won't be able to deny you coverage or drop you because their computer model says you're not worth it. They will have to offer and renew coverage to anyone who applies and pays their premium. And like other things that you buy, they will have to compete for your business based on quality and price. Families will have the security of knowing that if they become ill or lose their jobs, they won't lose their coverage.
The American Health Choices Plan gives Americans the choice to preserve their existing coverage, while offering new choices to those with insurance, to the 47 million people in the United States without insurance, and the tens of millions more at risk of losing coverage.

The Same Choice of Health Plan Options that Members of Congress Receive: Americans can keep their existing coverage or access the same menu of quality private insurance options that their Members of Congress receive through a new Health Choices Menu, established without any new bureaucracy as part of the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). In addition to the broad array of private options that Americans can choose from, they will be offered the choice of a public plan option similar to Medicare.
A Guarantee of Quality Coverage: The new array of choices offered in the Menu will provide benefits at least as good as the typical plan offered to Members of Congress, which includes mental health parity and usually dental coverage.

Relying on consumers or the government alone to fix the system has unintended consequences, like scaled-back coverage or limited choices. This plan ensures that all who benefit from the system share in the responsibility to fix its shortcomings.
Insurance and Drug Companies: insurance companies will end discrimination based on pre-existing conditions or expectations of illness and ensure high value for every premium dollar; while drug companies will offer fair prices and accurate information.
Individuals: will be required to get and keep insurance in a system where insurance is affordable and accessible. Providers: will work collaboratively with patients and businesses to deliver high-quality, affordable care. Employers: will help financing the system; large employers will be expected to provide health insurance or contribute to the cost of coverage: small businesses will receive a tax credit to continue or begin to offer coverage. Government: will ensure that health insurance is always affordable and never a crushing burden on any family and will implement reforms to improve quality and lower cost.
Senator Clinton’s plan will:

Provide Tax Relief to Ensure Affordability: Working families will receive a refundable tax credit to help them afford high-quality health coverage.
Limit Premium Payments to a Percentage of Income: The refundable tax credit will be designed to prevent premiums from exceeding a percentage of family income, while maintaining consumer price consciousness in choosing health plans.
Strengthen Medicaid and CHIP: The Plan will fix the holes in the safety net to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive affordable, quality care.

Clinton also promises access for all, portability and strengthening medicaid like Obama. Which I have already pointed out, do not necessarily insure coverage of 20-somethings. But she differently she suggests tax credits for "working families" and premium payments matched with income. Again, I am not sure that this would cover us. What if I am not a "working family?" What if my income is more than what some would consider necessary to obtain insurance, but really it is not enough?

Clinton also says Americans can choose to have the same coverage as members of Congress enjoy, which she seems to tout as pretty good. But who can afford this coverage? She says her plan will be affordable insurance, but if that is the case, why don't we all enjoy the coverage that congressmen and women enjoy now? I don't think 20-somethings freshly graduated could afford that plan. Clinton proposes everyone must have insurance, providers must make services affordable and government must ensure that all this is being accomplished. I don't have many words for the last requirement but: yeah right. Didn't the government say Medicare and Medicaid would be regulated and all people could find a way to be covered? mmmm....?? Also, how can there be a requirement for all people to be covered, what if they cannot afford it?? THEN WHAT? Can we really rely on providers to keep services affordable? I think not. Not when drug companies and device manufactures have special interests. Not when doctors recommend unnecessary drugs, procedures, visits, etc... We cannot rely on the unreliable. Period.


Presidential Candidates Plans: Change... a long time coming

On 2008 Presidential Candidate, Barrack Obama's website,
He lays out a health care plan that "bring real change.' But I am not so sure it solves the problem of uninsured 20-somethings...

Barack Obama's Plan
Quality, Affordable and Portable Coverage for All
Obama's Plan to Cover Uninsured Americans: Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress. The Obama plan will have the following features:
Guaranteed eligibility. No American will be turned away from any insurance plan because of illness or pre-existing conditions.
Comprehensive benefits. The benefit package will be similar to that offered through Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), the plan members of Congress have. The plan will cover all essential medical services, including preventive, maternity and mental health care.
Affordable premiums, co-pays and deductibles.
Subsidies. Individuals and families who do not qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP but still need financial assistance will receive an income-related federal subsidy to buy into the new public plan or purchase a private health care plan.
Simplified paperwork and reined in health costs.
Easy enrollment. The new public plan will be simple to enroll in and provide ready access to coverage.
Portability and choice. Participants in the new public plan and the National Health Insurance Exchange (see below) will be able to move from job to job without changing or jeopardizing their health care coverage.
Quality and efficiency. Participating insurance companies in the new public program will be required to report data to ensure that standards for quality, health information technology and administration are being met.
Employer Contribution: Employers that do not offer or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan. Small employers that meet certain revenue thresholds will be exempt.
Mandatory Coverage of Children: Obama will require that all children have health care coverage. Obama will expand the number of options for young adults to get coverage, including allowing young people up to age 25 to continue coverage through their parents' plans.
Expansion Of Medicaid and SCHIP: Obama will expand eligibility for the Medicaid and SCHIP programs and ensure that these programs continue to serve their critical safety net function.
Flexibility for State Plans: Due to federal inaction, some states have taken the lead in health care reform. The Obama plan builds on these efforts and does not replace what states are doing. States can continue to experiment, provided they meet the minimum standards of the national plan.

Obama's plan does attempt to change the current crisis Americans face with health care today. He does propose offering subsidies for those in financial crisis. But he does not really specify what "financial crisis" means. I know there were many times I did not qualify for scholarships or aid for college because I was "not poor enough." (kind of like the Welfare System in the U.S.: the working poor.) Obama also proposes access for all and portability. So everyone can sign up, no matter their previous life (in a word) and your coverage moves with you and your job (finally). He also wants to expand medicaid. These last options may provide some assistance for uninsured 20-somethings, but still are a bit unspecific. Plus, how will this fly for Washington? Could the insurance companies handle it? What about drug companies and more importantly, doctors? doctors had huge issues with Medicare and Medicaid... what are they going to say about this?

Still, for uninsured 20-somethings, there seems to be some options, but I am not sure it is enough to convince a 20-something who has to pay $700/mo for rent, credit card bills, phone bills, LOANS from college, electric, car payments, etc... for health insurance. Especially when they have just graduated from college. A $40,000 + principal debt can really make the hole look deep.