Health care reform pros and cons

Health care reform may have been neutered endlessly by bought off politicians (including, perhaps, Barack Obama). But is it still worth supporting and passing?

In the pros column:

  1. 30 million more Americans will have health insurance
  2. Approximately $100 billion will be spent each year making sure lower income families can afford basic insurance
  3. You can not be denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition
  4. You’ll be able to buy individual health insurance on exchanges setup by the government

The cons:

  1. 30 million Americans will be forced to buy insurance from private insurance companies or face a fine
  2. Insurance companies will not face increased competition from a government alternative
  3. Our dependency on private insurance companies will be strengthened while most Americans (accurately) perceive them to be a large part of the current crisis
  4. The $100 billion in subsidies to lower income families will, in part, subsidize insurance company profits
  5. Health care premiums will still rise at an unsustainable rate

(If you’ve got more to add to either list, please let me know in the comments)

Health care wonk Ezra Klein thinks that the bill is worth passing almost solely for the increased access to health insurance. He argues that forcing every American to buy insurance will compel Congress to revisit the weak spots in the current plan year after year. After all, Americans wont accept being forced to buy crappy and insanely expensive insurance. This bill, in Klein’s eyes, serves as a stepping stone to more and better reform.

I’m not so sure. I think it’s equally likely that Democrats will pay a heavy electoral price for forcing Americans to buy insurance from companies they loathe. Republicans could certainly sweep to power, reverse the good parts of the bill and blame the fiasco on liberals and their silly idea of Universal Health Care, despite the fact this bill represents nothing of the sort. Reform efforts could be hampered for another decade or more until our system really collapses with all the resulting human suffering.

10 Comments

  1. The bill sucks as is……it is not insurance reform but rather insurance expansion…a health bail-out…..it sucks….

  2. Ian

    “forcing Americans to buy insurance from companies they loathe.”

    Are you suggesting that the uninsured in this country go without insurance because they hate the idea of giving money to an insurance company? Come on…

    “Health care premiums will still rise at an unsustainable rate”

    I’d like to see your source on this. In theory, the rate should at least decrease as compared to the current one. If this is true, Klein is right. The crisis which you believe is coming would force us to do further reform, thus making this reform a stepping stone.

    “30 million Americans will be forced to buy insurance from private insurance companies or face a fine”

    I honestly have no problem with this, I just wish there had been a public option to serve as a basis for comparison. Still, that is 30 million customers that the health insurance industry is going to compete for. Competition benefits the consumer.

    I still think those pros you list outweigh the cons by a long shot. Some of the cons seem a little wishy-washy anyways.

  3. Chris

    Ian,
    I’m still conflicted about the whole thing. I can see both sides of the argument, that’s why I wanted to lay them out here.

    As for steadily increasing premiums, Jon Walker has been writing about it: http://fdlaction.firedoglake.com/2009/12/15/the-senate-bill-is-designed-to-make-your-health-insurance-worse/

  4. Clint

    I agree with lobotero’s assessment of the bill as an “insurance expansion” and a health industry bail out.

    The whole point is that for-profit, insurance-based health care has failed us. Therefore, expanding the control of for-profit, insurance-based health care is counter-productive.

    If you’re even moderately Progressive, this bill spits in your face, and I think you should oppose it and push for a concession – a public option, Medicare expansion, ANYTHING.

  5. Chris

    I’m leaning toward what Clint says as far as getting something else out of these negotiations. I think I’ll write a post about it…

  6. Ian

    Yeah! Who needs the positives from this bill like no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions!? Its better if the bill just dies and Congress never gets around to fixing health care in any way!

    Progressive with a capital P!

  7. Chris

    Ian,
    Would you grant that’s it’s possible, or even likely, the insurance coverage offered to those with existing conditions (and forced upon others) will be awful?

  8. Ian

    I think speculating either way is worthless.

  9. Clint

    Haha, Ian, you’re ridiculous.

    Just because a bill has positives doesn’t mean it’s automatically wise to vote for it. The choice isn’t the simple one you’re presenting, where you can either get “some reform” or “no reform.”

    My point isn’t that they should drop health care reform. You know very well that I don’t support that.

    My point is that they shouldn’t settle; they should push for a better deal. It’s not unreasonable to think concessions could be won (e.g. public option), considering they have the overwhelming support of the population.

  10. Ian

    You’re right. I was being silly. That health care reform we’ve been waiting for since the Clinton administration is right around the corner! Just keep holding out. Also just on the horizon: Social security and immigration reform. Woohoo!