2009-08-21 / Columnists

The Progressive

Insurance Woes
By John Culotta

Americans must be confused. At least, I am. Commentators are using hours of air time on television and radio and gallons of newspaper ink are being wasted discussing scenarios of socialistic doom and horror.

My sister, who was for health insurance reform, now fears that because of her advanced age the socialists will not treat her medically if the need arises. She had problems obtaining medical services years ago because her private insurance carrier refused to pay for certain services.

Other relatives who are unemployed have insurance coverage but must pay through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985). This coverage can be exorbitant for most people who are unemployed.

Why is there a fear of the public sector in the health care industry? Many health care providers receive government reimbursement already through Medicare and Medicaid. Doctors are trained using government monies through grants and loans to attend medical school.

Most of the objections appear to be based on the old chestnut - government cannot run anything effectively, and rationing will result.

The argument is flimsy at best. Our present system is costly, private insurance often denies coverage or allows reimbursement for selected physicians and millions have no coverage. Our government runs Medicare and the Medicaid and most recipients are pleased. The major problem with both these programs is the greed of hospitals, nursing homes, and physicians who defraud the system.

Our Congress needs to debate the issues but not digress from the problems our present system causes. If the public option is so horrible - it is the responsibility of the GOP and the Bluedog Democrats to come up with solutions and not just scare tactics.

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