Covering the bill

It’s been called a number of things:  The crown jewel of socialism, unconstitutional, Obamacare, and even “an affront to God” (thanks for that one, Glenn Beck).  With all of these distractions, it is easy to lose sight of the real issues behind the new health care reform bill.  Even easier than losing sight, however, is being misled by all of the misinformation being fed to the American public. 

But before beginning my explanation of some of the health care bill’s misconceptions, it is first important to understand that the status quo is unsustainable.  According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health care costs in 2009 accounted for 17.3 percent of our economy.  With these costs growing much faster than our economy, some experts have predicted health care costs rising to 30 percent of GDP.   

Recently, I read some comments on a CJ Online story regarding the passage of the health care reform bill and was appalled at most of these individual’s lack of information.  Thus, I feel that we, as college students, need to understand what the health care bill is and what it is not.

This bill is not a socialist takeover of medicine. The individuals calling it such are either completely unaware of what socialism is, or are purposefully spreading lies.  If we accept a common (although possibility oversimplified) definition of socialism as, “public or state control of property, resources and production” this bill just does not fit this definition for a number of reasons.

First of all, the government will not be making your health care decisions for you.  One of the most absurd myths about the health care bill is the existence of the so-called “death panels.” Sarah Palin’s allegations about death panels even won her 2009’s award for “Lie of the Year” according to the Wall Street Journal. President Obama believes that decisions regarding end of life care should be left strictly to patients, families and their doctors, which this bill does.   

Another myth is that this bill establishes nationalized health care.  The closest that this bill comes to nationalized health care is the option of state-based health exchanges for those currently unable to afford health insurance.  There is no requirement of joining one of these exchanges, so if you like your current coverage, you will be able to keep it. 

Additionally, this bill will not increase the rationing of your health care coverage.  The fact is that insurance companies already ration our health care.  Insurance companies make money when they do not have to provide you with services. This is the reason why they routinely rescind coverage to people who get too sick, or deny coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions. 

According to the New York Times on March 28, lawyers for insurance companies are already trying to get around provisions in the bill that require them to cover children with pre-existing conditions. The health care bill also makes it illegal for an insurance company to kick you off your policy for getting sick, and in 2014 will not allow companies to deny coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions.

What the health care bill does do is increase insurance coverage for millions of Americans who previously could either not afford or were not eligible for insurance.  One provision particularly affecting our demographic is that insurance companies offering dependent coverage must make their plans available for individuals up to age 26.  This is good news for anyone considering graduate school and was previously looking at being dropped from their parent’s health coverage. 

Although Republicans are still adamantly opposed to the health care bill, keep in mind that they were also opposed to Medicare, which they now champion themselves as the defenders of.  The health care bill might not be perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.  But don’t just listen to me; I encourage each and every one of you to find out more about the bill.  Who knows, you just might end up liking it.