September 3, 2009

Health Care: It's Broke. Fix It, Already!

Lily Eskelsen
NEA Vice President

We’ve now seen that dangerous combination of bad information and sincere people who believe it because they read it on the internet:

Town Hall Q. Do you support death panels that want to murder my grandmother?
Town Hall A. Say what?

Yes, it’s entertaining, and there’s a musical in the works based on the actual transcripts of Barney Frank’s town hall meeting. But for now, let’s be party poopers and stick to facts. Let’s talk about what’s broken and what we could do to fix it.

I’m a teacher. We have pretty good health insurance. So why do we care? Well, we care about our communities. We care that a lot of our students and their families don’t have access to quality health care. Those kids miss a lot of school, and that hurts them academically.

And even if you have good insurance, you’ll notice it’s not as good as it was ten years ago. You’ll notice paychecks are smaller as employers pay ever higher premiums to insurance companies that spend 30 cents out of every dollar on administrative overhead.

Hopefully, you won’t be among the people with insurance who find out what isn’t covered when they get sick and make a claim. Or those who have faithfully paid premiums for years only to find their insurance cancelled just before their prostate surgery as they’re notified they neglected to report an unrelated but previously-existing hangnail.

One man’s job stops providing family insurance, and he can’t afford to pick up the $1,000 monthly premium. One woman can’t get insurance because she’s young enough to get pregnant. Another because she’s old enough to need hormone therapy.

We all need this reform. Without decent coverage, medical bankruptcies will impact more families and local economies. Wages will stagnate as more of our wealth is shoveled into the bureaucratic abyss of insurance companies. It will crash in the end.

And when it does, we’ll reach the critical mass of the motivated that allowed Medicare to pass. In 1965, there were no town hall shouting matches. Why? Because seniors tend to have bad hearts and bad eyes and bad hip joints. Insurance companies didn’t want them. There was no motivation for them to oppose it.

The motivated folks were terrified seniors rejected by health insurance companies as a bad risk whose greatest fear, other than getting sick, was becoming a burden to their families.

The motivated folks were the adult kids of seniors who were desperately caught between helping their parents pay doctor bills and risking their own financial security.

The motivated folks were the hospitals that were left with expensive end-of-life treatments and no one to pay the bill.

When some guy would stand up and call it socialized medicine, the motivated folks would tell him to sit down and shut up. People wanted a public option called Medicare. It isn’t perfect. But it fixed the worst of what was broken.

It’s important that House reform proposals contain a similar public option. If you like your private insurance, keep it. For working people who fit better with a public option, they would finally have the choice.

Premiums would be based on your ability to pay, so everyone can afford reasonably priced insurance. Reform would end the nasty gotcha game of pre-existing conditions – no insurance would ever again be able to deny or cancel coverage because of past illness. All proposals keep choices of private doctors, clinics and hospitals.

The problem is real. And now we have real solutions and a rare opportunity to bring common-sense to our crazy quilt of a non-system.

No more shouting of absurdities. This is too important. Speak the truth. Calmly but with conviction. Call your member of Congress. Your senator. Tell them it’s time to lead our country something that works for all of us.


TAKE ACTION! Sign up as a Cyber Lobbyists and send your health care message NOW!

Health Care Lies Being Spread to Seniors

The Price of Private Insurance Overhead

Cancelling the Insured because of Pre-Existing Conditions

Medical Bankruptcies

President Obama on a Public Option to private insurance

1 comment:

Tom Wolfe said...

Great article! Quiet and reasoned discourse is critically needed in this debate, and nobody has a stranglehold on the truth.