Saturday, November 24, 2012

NHS & Obamacare: Opposite directions!

Opposite directions?
©2012 Am Ang Zhang

Now that Obama is re-elected for his second term, Obamacare looks like having a good chance of moving health care in the US in quite the opposite direction to where our NHS is moving.

There is little doubt that a system based on insurance will need smart legislation to control the insurers. If the NHS is going to make use of wealthier individuals to use Health Insurance, then the same smart laws will need to be enacted for the regulation of Insurers. We should have learnt through the banking failures that in business, there is no such thing as self regulation.

The following was published just before the election:

The Affordable Care Act's benefits are hidden beneath the alarmist rhetoric
Nov 5, 2012

Columnist Wendell Potter Robin Holland

Wouldn’t it be great if our candidates had to take a dose of truth serum every morning before hitting the campaign trail? If they did, those of us who will be voting tomorrow wouldn’t be nearly as confused about what Obamacare is and what it isn’t, what it will do and what it won’t.

Since there is no such truth serum requirement, I believe that many of us will actually be voting against our own best interests. Many Americans will vote for candidates who have scared them into believing that Obamacare is a government takeover of health care that it will bankrupt the country while slashing Medicare benefits.

In the event that you or someone you know might benefit from some truth-telling, here, then, are a few things you ought to know before pulling that lever tomorrow:

·         The Affordable Care Act is not a government takeover that has put us on a slippery slope toward socialism, or even toward a single-payer system like the one in the People’s Republic of Canada.
·         The legislation is not going to add trillions to the deficit, even though it will expand Medicaid and provide subsidies to low-income individuals and families to buy private coverage.
·         The Affordable Care Act will not cut Medicare benefits.

One of the reasons the hospital industry endorsed Obamacare is that by bringing more people into coverage, hospitals will not have to provide nearly as much uncompensated care, which hits their bottom lines very hard. So hospitals were quite willing to go along with a reduction in future payments from the government because they know they will more than make up for it by having far fewer uninsured patients.

Here are some things the law will do:
·         It will prohibit insurance companies from refusing to sell coverage to people simply because they have one or more pre-existing conditions.
·         It will also prohibit them from cancelling our coverage when we get sick just to avoid paying for our care.
·         It will prohibit insurers from charging women more than men for comparable coverage and will not allow them to charge older folks more than three times as much as younger folks.
·         It will require them to spend at least 80 percent of what we pay in premiums actually paying claims and improving care.
·         It will allow young adults—who comprise the largest segment of the uninsured—to stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.
·         It will reduce the number of uninsured Americans by at least 30 million if all the states agree to accept federal dollars to expand their Medicaid programs.

That said, Obamacare is not a panacea for all that ails the U.S. health care system. I view it as the end of the beginning of reform. We will have to do more as a nation to bring everyone into coverage, to control costs and to improve the way we deliver care. But Obamacare does not resemble the law that many politicians have spent millions of dollars trying to persuade us it is.  Don’t be fooled into voting against your own best interests tomorrow.

Saving NHS: Control Health Insurers!

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