Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More reasons we need public option in health care

From Saturday's New York Times, here's more evidence why we need a public insurance option in health care reform, to keep the insurance companies honest and provide real competition for them --
IS your medical insurance bad for your health? If you have a high-deductible plan, the answer may be yes.
The investment firm Fidelity recently surveyed employees at various companies who had opted for a high-deductible health plan linked to a health savings account. About half of those workers said they or a family member had chosen not to seek medical care for minor ailments as many as four times in the last year to avoid paying the out-of-pocket expenses.
As any doctor will tell you, small health problems left untreated can become big problems, warns Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy at the health care advocacy group Families USA. “This is just one of the many high-deductible pitfalls consumers need to watch out for,” Ms. Stoll said. ...
low-income families don’t benefit from the tax breaks associated with health savings accounts the way middle- and high-income earners do.
Even if you can afford the costs, the loopholes that insurers often weave into these plans to reduce premiums can mean that even after your deductible is met, you may not have the coverage you need to handle a serious illness or accident.

The article goes on to describe other charming features like caps on lifetime coverage, caps on doctor visits, and this beaut - caps on hospitalization costs -- for example:

Mr. Claxton has seen policies that so severely restrict hospitalization that they will not pay for the first day you are admitted. “That’s the day when you’re most likely to have the most costs,” he said. “Think of it: You’re admitted to the E.R., you have surgery and you spend the night in the I.C.U., and none of it is covered.”

As I've blogged about before, including competition from a public option (think Medicare for people under 65) is one of the biggest things we can do to rein in out-of-control health care cost inflation. And it would actually COVER people. What a concept!

In Senate race punditry, Pa. pundits Madonna and Young give their take on Sestak running for Senate.

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