Why Health Insurance Reform? “We’re in This Together”

We’re in this together, and the cost to taxpayers of treating anyone who seeks emergency care, with or without insurance, is far greater than the cost of requiring coverage for everyone,” writes David Lazarus, a business columnist for the Los Angeles Times.  As proof of the foolishness of opposing healthcare reform, Lazarus cites the case of a California woman who underwent several rounds of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  The woman, who had been a Disney executive, is currently unemployed and is being financially squeezed in the same way as other people who carry individual insurance policies.

Shortly after her diagnosis, the woman’s insurer increased her monthly premiums by $91 because she had just celebrated her 55th birthday.  In October, they rose an additional $83 because of “the growing cost of healthcare services.”  The premium goes up an additional $44 in January because of “the new healthcare reform law,” according to the insurer.

According to Lazarus, “There rate hikes represent a 55 percent increase in premiums over just a few months – and not one of them is attributable to her cancer.  As of January, she’ll be paying $613 a month for healthcare coverage and that is with a $5,000 deductible.  In other words, the woman will be paying more than $7,000 a year for insurance and will still be responsible for the first $5,000 in annual costs.”  As the woman says, “If I don’t get work, I don’t know how I’ll afford that.  But I’m now uninsurable for individual coverage.  I can’t switch to a different policy.”

Unless the courts overturn President Obama’s healthcare reform law, the woman will be able to shop for what potentially could be affordable coverage through the insurance exchanges where companies will not be able to turn down patients because of their medical histories.  Lazarus notes that “Without the mandate, many healthcare experts say, premiums probably would skyrocket because most people would simply wait until they got sick before buying coverage.  Health insurers, in turn, would probably stop offering individual policies because the marketplace would be rigged against them.  If you believe that healthcare is a right and not a privilege, and that the mark of a decent and civilized society is how it looks after those in need, then it shouldn’t make any difference who’s knocking at a doctor’s or an insurer’s door.  Healthcare should be there for all of us when we need it.”

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