Last year I read that our health care system in this country was broken and needed to be fixed. Furthermore, if it wasn't fixed we would all be bankrupt. Naturally I was concerned almost to the point of taking to the streets with a sign on a stick. My lazy nature prevailed however so I stayed home and watched the campaign promises instead.
Then I read that the Health Care Bill, which was passed this year, will solve all of the problems and correct the inequities of our health care system. I further read that there are some 1,800 pages in the bill. I don't know how many there actually are but I'm sure there are a lot. I saw an explanation of the whole bill in the AARP journal. It took three pages. Our local congressman sent us a review. It took about half a page. I know that our congress members like to talk a lot and write many pages, but this is ridiculous. Does anyone really know everything that is in the bill? The only thing I know so far is how it has affected our family.
Earlier this year, before the bill was passed we got a notice from Social Security that there would be no increase because there is no inflation. That sounded OK, we could live with that. In fact, I thought the government wanted to cut down on spending a little. Very commendable.
Shortly after the bill was passed we got a notice from the same Social Security Administration that they would have to increase our payment for Medicare because cost have gone up. Then about a month ago we got a notice from our health insurance company, Blue Shield, that it was going to increase our premium 10 percent because of "the increased costs of doctors, hospitals, and health care providers." About two weeks ago we received notice that Veterans Affairs will increase our co-pay for prescription drugs 12.5 percent. Then on Aug. 25 the California Department of Insurance approved a rate increase of 14 percent for Blue Cross and a 19 percent increase for Blue Shield. The article explained that since the increase was smaller than first requested that it would "save consumers $184 million." Since when does an increase save anybody anything?
I have no problem with the doctors' charges in Merced. I think they are reasonable. However if doctor and hospital charges nationwide are driving up the costs, why were they ignored in the bill itself? If a national health plan is comprehensive it must include all of the components of health care. Why beat up the insurance companies? They just raised their rates. No wonder the American Medical Association approved the plan.
Even though we are on fixed income, we can handle this, but I wonder how many cannot, especially those who are just getting by. It would appear that many people already on the brink will have to cancel their health insurance policies.
But we have been told that the bill would provide health care insurance for the 25 or 35 million people, depending who is talking, who are presently without insurance. Sounds like a worthy goal, but what about the millions who must cancel their insurance because of the increased premiums? Is the government going to provide low cost insurance for them? If so, where does that leave the legitimate insurance companies? Is there something in those hundreds of pages in the bill with the answer? If so, it appears that nobody knows where it is hidden.
I also read that the bill will start saving the government money and reduce the national debt. Nobody has yet told us how that will happen.
This may be the greatest thing to come along since Medicare, at least the politicians have told us so. The trouble is that the one-half page review from our representative says nothing about that. It also didn't explain why our medical insurance costs have gone up so suddenly in spite of the fact we were told that the costs would decrease.
I don't see how the medical system in this country can be saved from bankruptcy by spending more money. Does anybody know where the moneys are in those 1,800 or more pages of the Health Care Bill?
Merced resident DuPertuis is a retired architect and a guest member of the Sun-Star's editorial board.