Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Obama Health: Under One Roof

Obama Health & The NHS: Patients Trading
It would be interesting to see how universal health insurance will pan out in the Obama health care reform.

It made sense that insurers should not be allowed to “cherry pick”. The Cockroach Catcher just realised that perhaps there now will be a new commodity: patients.

The financial world has been about risks and derivatives were designed to minimise risks. All very laudable until some smart ones realise that much money could be made from such instruments.

Health Insurers are a special group of such financial institutions and no doubt they will want to minimise the risks. In the past, it is very simple: exclude risky patients.                    Reuters: Insurer targeted HIV patients to drop coverage
President Obama signed the budget reconciliation bill containing a package of revisions to the big health care legislation after giving a speech at Northern Virginia Community College, a setting aimed at drawing attention to the education component of the bill.

“Today we mark an important milestone on the road to health insurance reform and higher education reform,” Mr. Obama said. “But more broadly, this day affirms our ability to overcome the challenges of our politics and meet the challenges of our time.”

He continued, “When I took office, one of the questions we needed to answer was whether it was still possible to make government responsive to the needs of everyday people, middle-class Americans, the backbone of this country, or whether the special interests and their lobbyists would continue to hold sway like they’ve done so many times before. And that’s a test we met one week ago, when health insurance reform became the law of the land in the United States of America.”

In his speech, Mr. Obama also sought to temper some expectations. “The health insurance reform bill I signed won’t fix every problem in our health-care system in one fell swoop,” he said. “But it does represent some of the toughest insurance reforms in history. It represents a major step forward toward giving Americans with insurance and those without a sense of security when it comes to their health care. It enshrines the principle that when you get sick you’ve got a society there, a community that is going to help you get back on your feet. It represents meaningful progress for the American people.”

It was a courageous president to have taken on the might of Health Insurers the way President Obama did with his Health Reform, it is time that England should seriously consider passing legislation to rein in on Health Insurers. Many consider it too late to prevent private bodies taking over our once efficient NHS. By 2014, Health Insurers in the US will not be allowed to "cherry pick". Is that why so many of them are poised to cross the pond? Only time will tell. In the mean time legislation similar to those in the US will at least prevent the kind of things that are happening now over there.
All the insurers have notified the state Department of Insurance of their intention to resume sales.

“……There is plenty at stake. California's private insurance market — where individuals and small businesses buy coverage — generated $17 billion in revenue last year. The market is only expected to grow as millions of uninsured Californians buy coverage, beginning in 2014, through a new marketplace exchange set up as part of the federal healthcare law.”

“Regulators from the California Department of Insurance have been trying to prod insurers to start selling child-only policies once again since they announced their departure shortly before Sept. 23, when the federal healthcare law would have required them to accept all children with preexisting conditions. On Wednesday, officials sent the companies two pages of "guidance" to help them interpret the new state law.”

Guidance? Really!

Perhaps our new government is the one that needs guidance. The sooner they rein in the insurers the better:

No exclusion of pre-existing conditions and no rescission and definitely no dumping.

And a limit of say no more than double the best rates.
With the passing of the health care bill in the US, one must congratulate President Obama for achieving the impossible and he will no doubt be ranked with the greatest presidents.

A few weeks ago, Obama and health reform were doomed and Obama was not up to the job. In the coming days, we will see a jubilant Obama on the cover of newsmagazines. He will be lionized as a giant-killer. His approval ratings will rise, both because more Americans are paying attention to the beneficial features of the bill as opposed to the Republican caricatures and because Americans love a winner.

"And the health bill itself only begins the long task of wresting control of the health care system from callous insurance and drug companies. We still have to fight for a real public option that is the first step towards national health insurance."   Huffington Post

The Obama Health reform is dealing a big blow to Health Insurers as by 2014 they will have to take all comers and cannot exclude pre-existing conditions not to say dumping someone like my Anorexia Nervosa patient. Until then, the State or the Federal Government steps in.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican gave a rousing endorsement of President Obama’s health plan.  New York Times reported today.

The new government in a week’s time should take the first step in legislating against Health Insurers “dumping” patients because of psychiatric diagnosis or so called chronic conditions. That way, private hospitals and insurers can fight it out amongst themselves. At least  the small pot of NHS cash would be safe. That would be a first step.

I doubt if any government would follow Obama’s extremely courageous move of legislating against excluding pre-existing conditions but we could watch what happens in a few year’s time. If we can at least secure the position of those already insured we could save the NHS a great deal of money.

Unlike the US we have a safety net: the NHS.

Let us protect it. 

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