BY BEN SANDERS
It appears from the press coverage this weekend that the public option may be dead.
If that is the case then common sense would dictate that at a minimum the health care bill should have the following:
AFFORDABILITY – Those who pay individual premiums should pay no more than employee premiums in a group plan and employer/employees group rates should be no more than they are now and hopefully less. Those that currently are not on insurance and can’t afford the premiums should be allowed to qualify for a subsidy or government payment of premiums under existing welfare and Medicaid programs.
PORTABILITY – Employees laid off should be able to continue coverage to their next employer and the next employer pick up their premiums with their provider. Many payroll programs already have the capability to pay those premiums as payment to third parties. If the employee has not obtained new employment then a plan should be available to help with those premiums if necessary using state unemployment programs.
NO PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS – Currently group plans have no pre-existing conditions and individual plans should not have conditions either. You can’t have true competition between insurance companies without it.
MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM – Should eliminate the donut hole and allow discounts by pharmacies – as submitted for bid [the one that offers the best discount gets exclusive rights. The other pharmacies would offer less discounts.]
GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT – A government board set up to monitor rates and denials of coverage, so that insurance and pharmaceutical companies can’t get away with abuses of the system. Maybe something similar to what we have here in Oklahoma for utility rates, as regulated by the Corporation Commission.
This issue is too important to get lost in all the muddied excesses in the legislation; as mentioned in other e-mails, common sense changes need to be made.
I believe that the measures mentioned above would allow the insurance companies and pharmacies to be competitive and give them larger pools to allow reduced rates, so long as there is regulation to monitor and protect against the excesses they have now.
Let me know if you agree or if there should be other measures added, keeping in mind to look at this from a position to get the basic essentials.
– Ben Sanders lives in Oklahoma City and is a longtime reader/supporter of The Oklahoma Observer