I wanted to get this story out before the Sunday vote in the House. If you believe in healthcare reform, call your Congressman. Most of them will have their offices open tomorrow.
Here’s my personal experience with healthcare from this week. Our healthcare insurer Aetna informed the company that our premiums were almost tripling. For a family of four, our premiums would go up from just over $1000 to over $3000. Why?, we asked. That’s just the way it is, they said. We’re going to have to drop our insurance, we said. Yes, they said, we expected that. And that was that. If you are a business with a small payroll, you and your employees are at the mercy of the healthcare insurer.
So, now I have to go out and get insurance for the family. My wife’s employer, also a small business, offers insurance, but I thought I’d go out and see if I could get insurance directly.
I called Anthem Blue Cross. Nice lady at the other end. Took down all the details. Then we came to pre-existing conditions. I said my son had one and described it. She said that she’d have to put me on hold. She was back in less than 10 seconds. Anthem Blue Cross could not offer any insurance at all. Sorry.
I then called Kaiser Permanente. My wife’s employer offers Kaiser and I thought I’d see if I could something directly with them. Kaiser doesn’t decline on the phone, you have to put in an application, which may be declined (it’s more polite, but everyone spends much more time making and reviewing applications). The guy on the phone was helpful. If you get Kaiser at your wife’s company, take it, was his advice.
Now, we have options. Even if we didn’t have my wife’s insurance, we wouldn’t be out on the streets, if something were to happen. But for many Americans (over 30 million of them) there are no options. If they don’t have a job or they have a job that doesn’t offer insurance, and they have a pre-existing condition, they won’t get insurance. Hospitalization in this country can cost $20,000 and up. Which means that they could be just one major illness away from bankruptcy.
Now, about this bill. It’s a very, very long bill. If you really want to understand the issues it tackles, go read Ezra Klein. But basically it boils down to a few things. Health insurers should not be able to deny insurance based upon pre-existing conditions. It also bans recissions (kicking an insured person out) and life time caps (another cute trick to limit payouts). To make this work for insurance companies there has to be an individual mandate (everyone must get insurance).
Six months after the bill is passed, denying insurance based upon pre-existing conditions for children will become illegal. That’s when I’m going to call Anthem Blue Cross again. I can only imagine how many people are waiting with far more desperation for that six month boundary to be crossed.
Here’s where you find out who to call http://www.congress.org/
If you are calling right now, call your Congressman. If you read this blog, and you live in the US, you probably have a nice job and healthcare at work. If I were you, here’s what I would say to his or her aide on the phone:
Congressman (or Congresswoman) I have a nice job and healthcare insurance. I am calling you in spite of the fact that I have nothing to gain if this bill passes. That’s because I feel for those people who do not have insurance today or can’t get it. We cannot be a great country if we let our people sink into misery because we’ve let healthcare become the monster it is today.
Please fix healthcare by voting yes on healthcare reform.