What Students Need To Know About Obama’s Health Care Reform


We’ve all heard about President Barack Obama’s proposal to reform health care in the United States.  If you live in a Republican city with a Republican family, you probably heard a lot of crap bashing the plan, and if you are from a Democrat area and family, you probably heard that the Messiah Obama is bringing heaven to earth.  Well, neither are true.  I’m about to set the record straight. (Reps and Dems, get your comments ready!)

First off, let’s state some facts.  These are neither in support of, nor against Obama’s plan.  They are what they are, just numbers.  About 46 million (out of about 305 million) Americans have no insurance.  Another 25 million or so are under-insured, by Medicaid and Medicare standards (which I’m guessing can’t be that high).  Due to the high cost of health care in America, many companies have been forced to “tighten their belts” as far as giving out health insurance benefits.

So What’s This Plan All About?

It’s fairly simple (if you neglect the details…).  President Obama’s plan revolves around a central point to create a government sponsered health insurance program.  This would be an option for all American citizens (similar to how medicare is an available option for Americans over the age of 65).

Also the bill (H.R. 3200) pushes for prohibitions against insurers discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, and offers incentives for people using preventative services and wellness plans.  In other words, if you exercise regularly at the gym and take your vitamins, you get some sort of reward (details not yet mentioned, as they are still hammering this thing out).

All Americans would be required to be covered by some sort of health insurance, either from the government option or another option that meets the minimum standards that would be drawn out.  Citizens who choose not to purchase health insurance would be fined 2.5 percent of their adjusted gross income, most probably out of their tax return.

Who would Pay For This Government Option?

Obviously the people who choose this option would have to pay. Obama also says that he’s found “hundreds of billions” worth of savings in the federal budget, coming from rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in medicare and medicaid (apparently he’s going to keep things secret until his plan get’s passed?!?).  But the question about pay comes from how the rest of this program will be funded to begin with.

The answer, to be put quite simply, is you, the American citizens.  There have been many numbers thrown around as to which Americans would be paying; these numbers range from Americans earning 250,000+ annually to those earning over 1 million.  No real details have been determined, as far as I’ve read so far.  But rest assured, if you are rich, you will most likely pay, whether it be additional tax, decreased tax benefits, or a surcharge of some sort. And if you are a student, you are most likely not rich, so at least you wont pay right now.

How Much Will It Cost?

President Obama proposes that this reform will cost nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years.  He also insists that it will be revenue neutral, meaning that it would not be an added expense on the budget (I haven’t seen or heard of how or whether this is possible or not).

Who Will Benefit From Health Care Reform?

Those without insurance will be the largest population to benefit from this reform.  Also those who have paid for expensive individual policies on their own will benefit (and trust me, I’ve done the research… Without an employer cutting the cost, insurance is expensive for the individual).  Employees of small businesses who do not provide competitive prices on health insurance also stand to benefit.  And finally low income medicare participants who are left paying for what isn’t covered by medicare stand to benefit from using the new public option proposed.

Of course, whether intended or not, the proposal could also mean more profits for insurance companies.  If all Americans have health insurance, that means that insurance companies and health care providers wouldn’t have to eat the cost of citizens going to the emergency room for “non emergencies,” with no health coverage at all.  That lack of expense either means lower costs, higher profits, or both.

What If I Have Insurance Already?

If you have insurance, you can keep it, and chances are your life and medical expenses won’t change much.  Of course, with a new competitor in town, your insurance company may need to change the coverage of it’s plan, in order to compete.

What do the Republicans Think?

My research on the thoughts of the Republicans is not thorough, but what I understand of it is this:  Since Republicans are against large government, it makes sense that they don’t like the idea of a government sponsored health insurance program for all Americans.  They fear that employers might opt for the government option over private, due to lowered costs.  This, they believe would inevitably lead to lower quality health care for many Americans who currently receive great care.  Republicans also think that a government option is one step closer to socialized health care, which is obviously against the fundamental beliefs of Republicans.

What Medical Students Should Know

As a student that will be joining the health care field, practicing medicine, and dealing with the insurance companies for the rest of your life, there are a few things that you should be aware of.  First off, you should know what the American Medical Association thinks.  “The AMA does not believe that creating a public health insurance option … is the best way to expand health insurance coverage.”  Doctors fear that new option would reimburse them at Medicare rates, which have not kept pace with the cost of practice.  AMA President Dr. Nancy Nielsen says “Medicare rates are back at 2001 rates, and the reality is, that’s not where our rent is, that’s not where the electricity is.  The system for paying doctors is a broken system, and everybody acknowledges it.”

On the other hand, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Physicians Alliance and other groups put out a statement of support this week for Obama’s plan. “Having the choice of a public health insurance plan will help make health care more affordable for patients, foster greater competition in the insurance market and guarantee that quality, affordable coverage will be there for our patients no matter what happens,” they wrote in a joint statement..

Debunking The Crap

Here is my last bit on Health Care Reform.  You’ve probably heard most of what’s below in the news.  I’ll tell you what’s true and what’s crap…

  • Death Panels – This garbage was misconstrued by someone who apparently didn’t do well in English 101.  It has since been removed from the newest bill, HR 3200.  Nobody is going to kill your grandma, I promise.
  • Euthanasia is never mentioned in the entire bill, all 1018 pages.
  • Abortion legislation will not change with this bill.  That is, that this bill is abortion neutral.
  • Illegal Aliens are excluded from all options in this bill, including eligibility and vouchers.
  • Bank Accounts – This bill will not give the government access to any of your financial accounts.
  • Forced Participation – You will not be forced to accept the public option.  You will however be fined for not having the minimum amount of health insurance coverage.
  • Doctors -You will be able to keep all of your current doctors with the public plan, assuming that they choose to participate in the public option.
  • Health Decisions – The government will not make decisions on your health care.  These decisions will still be made by you and your doctor.
  • Socialist – This plan is not socialist.  The government is not proposing to seize ownership of private hospitals and insurance companies.  It only offers a public option to compete with private insurers.
  • Monopoly – The government option will not run other companies out of business, it will force them to treat their customers fairly, or lose them to another option.

Alright, you’ve made it this far.  I know you have a lot to say, so leave your comments below!  If I’ve misspoken about anything, feel free to clarify (with proof of course).

Download The Bill (H.R. 3200) Download A Summary of The Bill

Check Out The Government Health Care Reform Website

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