Monologue October 28, 2017
When Obamacare was being debated 7 years ago, most members of Congress admitted they had not actually read the 1200 page bill. Nancy Pelosi famously said that “we have to pass the bill to know what’s in the bill” which led me to remark that it’s like saying that “we have to pass our lunch to know what we had for lunch.”
The so-called Affordable Care Act resulted in dramatically higher premiums for many Americans—some by as much as a 200% increase. Just this week it was announced that the most popular of the plans will increase by 34% next year. What was supposed to increase access and decrease cost has resulted in the loss of care for many, steep increases in costs, dramatic limits to coverage and doctors, and a bitter debate about exactly what role we want government to play in our health and how much we are willing to pay.
Tonight, we will attempt to look at the health care issue from the perspective of how it impacts you and your family—not the politics of it, but what it SHOULD be or COULD be if common sense prevailed rather than special interests and campaign cash.
The big fact that gets overlooked is that America doesn’t have a health CARE crisis—we have a HEALTH crisis. 80% of health care costs are related to chronic disease—illnesses that are mostly the result of 3 behaviors—overeating, under-exercising, and smoking. Of course genetics play a huge role as well. But the fundamental problem is an unhealthy population, living longer, but more expensively because we DO have a good health care system.
My mother used to have a saying about having a “Champagne appetite and a Coca-Cola pocketbook.” We want the best health care available. But we want it affordably. Take the popular and oft-promised coverage for pre-existing conditions and no lifetime limit on coverage. That means that no matter how sick you are and how much your health needs are going to cost, you will be given coverage. Sounds great, but what if we applied that to other forms of insurance? Imagine calling your car insurance agent and telling him you’d like to insure your car. “Well tell me about your car,” he asks. “Well, I totaled the car yesterday, but I’d like to buy full replacement today.” Or if you tried to purchase homeowners insurance the day AFTER your home burned to the ground? And you’d like to pay the same as the folks who have been paying for 30 years without a claim. Sound absurd? Of course, because no insurance company could afford to pay after the damage is done. Politicians in both parties promise to provide full coverage with no limits. But that can’t be done unless we’re willing to pay out our stopped up noses for every stopped up nose we have.
A huge part of the problem is that most Americans get health insurance from their employer and since they don’t pay the premiums or the bulk of the medical bills, we don’t worry about the actual cost. It’s like having the ability to go to the grocery store and fill the cart with anything we want knowing that someone else is going to pay for it.
There are better ways and tonight we’ll tell you not just about the problems with health care, but discuss some solutions you may not have heard about. As the nurse usually says, this might be a little uncomfortable!
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