Monday, January 30, 2012

Insurance costs

Finally its about time is all I can say. By August 1, all employers must provide coverage for birth control for women at no extra cost. Religious employers such as churches had wanted an exception to the rule but the president has denied this. I support that decision. I realize that birth control may not agree with some religious beliefs but it is not up to the employer what medical decisions an employee makes. I am sure there are medical procedures out there that violate other beliefs. I am glad to see the end this bias. Viagra has been a covered medication since it was approved by the FDA, its about time birth control is as well.

This year the requested health insurance rate increase in Massachusetts, is (are you sitting down?) 2.3%. That's not even double digits. That is an amazing change from previous years.

'... the state Division of Insurance temporarily froze 2010 rates at 2009 levels after insurers that year requested average premium increases of 16.3 percent. While the health insurance companies initially protested, contending they would lose money, most eventually agreed to limit 2010 increases to about 10 percent. 

Since then, insurers have been cutting administrative costs while also taking a harder line in contract negotiations with health care providers. Hospitals and doctors, for their part, have been working to deliver care more efficiently and fend off the possibility that the state might move to regulate how much they receive from insurers.'

This looks more and more like change for the good to me.

Finally, more than 1.2 million people, or approximately 1/5 of the total population of Massachusetts, are being treated by doctors who are given a budget instead of paid on a fee for service basis. The legislature is working to create laws to make this the standard but it is already in place for many.

'Adoption of these "global payment" plans is driven by a desire to control soaring health insurance premiums by giving physicians an incentive to be more sparing in their use of expensive procedures, such as sophisticated scans. But it is also motivated by an eagerness to encourage more preventive measures, and that in turn improves care, which often is disorganized as doctors lose track of patients who need follow-up calls, visits, or tests.'

Does this sound like more change for the good as well? I think so.

Why do I make such a big deal about the health insurance system in MA? Well first of all that is where I live. And second of all the state wide health care system has been in place for several years now and we are seeing the results of a similar system to the national plan. I think the health insurance coverage rate here is in the upper 90%. When people lose their jobs they have a choice in where to get health insurance - either COBRA which is expensive or a state provided plan which usually is cheaper. The state plans are not as comprehensive as some private plans but are more affordable and available to all - no pre-existing condition exemptions, etc. Actually in MA, there has been a law preventing bias in insurance for pre-existing conditions for about 20 years now.

So what we have here is a little example for the rest of the country on how a change in health care might actually work. I see stories on Facebook and elsewhere about people who have a pre-existing condition and now can get health care through a government run plan. They are appreciative of the plan and happy to be alive.

I am not sure why people are against national health care. I know some people are Obama haters and hate everything he has touched just on principle. I know that people don't like the idea of being told what to do and being forced to have health insurance or be penalized. Some people are scared of change and are concerned that they couldn't go to their same doctors, etc.

The Obama haters can spend their time hating, being narrow minded, and bigoted but frankly to me that is just a waste of energy. He's president, if you don't like him vote against him. You can't get rid of him before November so suck it up and deal. Also, let's take the politics out of health care. People on both sides of the aisle get sick and need health insurance.

For people who don't like being told what to do - well I am a rebel myself but I like having health insurance. Without health insurance and two cancer diagnosis, I am not sure I would be here now and I'm quite happy to be alive. Finally, for those who are concerned about having to change their doctor or place of treatment, I'll just say doctors aren't like marriage - you don't always get them for life. And we don't know if that will be the case yet anyway. So don't count your chickens before they are hatched. Okay?

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