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Health Care Summit: Health Insurance Reform

Health insurance reform is one of the most popular components of health care reform. Between insanely rising premiums, denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, and rescinding coverage when a person actually needs health care, this aspect of our current health care system is also the one that generates horror stories, such as babies being denied coverage because of high or low birth weights and domestic violence still counting as a pre-existing condition in some states.

As straightforward as the solution may seem, health insurance reform is actually very difficult to enact without unintended consequences. If health insurance companies stop these morally dubious practices, the cost of insuring everybody skyrockets. It’s easy to demonize health insurance companies and, in some ways they deserve this condemnation, but they’re not only ones gaming the system. Healthy people, who expect to find affordable health insurance once they become sick, are placing unrealistic demands on the system. Without changing this practice, effective health insurance reform is likely impossible.

Health Care Summit Blog: Health Insurance Reform

12:35PM. HHS Secretary Sebelius. Introduces health insurance reform. Says there is agreement that current health insurance industry fails to many people. Says right now there are insurance monopolies, not competition. Talks about double-digit rate increases for premiums. Claims that people are getting dumped out of the market and priced out of the market. Says consumer protections are the only way to enact common sense reforms and prevent people with pre-existing conditions and current ailments from crippling health care costs.

12:40PM. Rep. Eric Cantor. Claims Republicans care just as much about health care reform as Democrats. Says Republicans are also outraged when people are wronged in the health care system. Says the reason Republicans won’t sign are philosophical differences, such as governmental control. Talks about how the bill will give HHS Secretary the power to control health insurance market, says taxes will negatively impact job growth. Denies that people will be able to keep their insurance because reform will prevent companies from offering current coverage at affordable costs. Claims that mandates would be great in a perfect world, but we can’t ignore the consequences of these mandates.

12:45PM. Pres. Obama. Again claims that costs will rise and coverage will change because people will voluntarily opt for better policies. Compares low-cost health insurance to reducing the cost of beef by eliminating meat inspectors. Worries that insurance companies will lead people to believe they have coverage, only to discover companies dump them when the coverage is needed. Claims even Republicans acknowledge that some regulations are necessary.

12:50PM. Rep. Louise Slaughter. Pre-existing conditions are outrageous, capricious, and must go. Says that domestic violence has been used as pre-existing condition because a woman who is beat is more likely to be beaten again. Says U.S. can’t export automobiles because of health insurance costs. Says Congress has done nothing to help entrepreneurs with their health care costs. Says nitpicking about specific policies must take a back seat to eliminating the moral travesty.

2:05PM. Sen. Mike Enzi. Says seniors object most to reform because it’s taking a quarter trillion dollars away from seniors. Says that he hopes Congress can use the same process that he employed with the late Sen. Kennedy and claims this is the only way to reach bipartisanship. Worries that current health savings accounts won’t meet federal mandates. Says he does like exchanges, but he wants all insurance plans to be available on the market, and the ones that meet federal requirements can be marked.

2:10PM. Sen. Tom Harkin. Says the Summit makes him believe the sides are closer than originally thought. Says Congress spent one year soliciting ideas from every expert source from every corner of the ideological spectrum. Claims to use 9 out of 10 House Republican reform ideas, health savings accounts being the exception. Claims comprehensive reform is the only way to reform the health care system because one item affects all the others; incrementalism won’t work. Claims Americans get segregated based on the condition of their health.

2:15PM. Rep. Dave Camp. Wants to go step-by-step. Worries about HHS Secretary’s role in establishing waiting periods. Claims Americans don’t want to be forced to buy insurance, an individual mandate. Wants to establish a high-risk pool to deal with pre-existing condition. (Obama claims this type of high-risk pool would be prohibitively expensive. Favors limited high-risk pools as a stop-gap.) Rep. Camp says that Republicans’ idea would create sufficient financial support for this high-risk pool.)

2:20PM. Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Claims that health insurance companies actively seek out reasons to deny coverage, after premiums have been paid. This practice is largely invisible to consumers. Claims lack of oversight, competition allows them to do this. Disputes the idea that the HHS Secretary not being an elected official is a bad thing.

2:30PM. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Claims her district where many people live within 15 miles of state border would have the competition and low-cost insurance they need if they could buy insurance across state lines without burdensome federal requirements. States that share borders could also create insurance compacts for these regions. Wants reforms to take place immediately, not 2016.

(Pres. Obama says he supports selling insurance across state lines, but claims the problem is that because healthy people aren’t buying coverage, insurance companies aren’t even that interested in competing for high-risk pools, especially since they must also pay for emergency treatment for those without insurance.)

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The quickest route to health insurance reform is to increase competition. Do you know what the competition is charging for health insurance? Find out by requesting health insurance quotes here.

Research and Media Tools: Health Insurance Reform

Continue on…Health Care Summit Part 3: Health Care Reform and Deficit Reduction

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