Sunday, March 21, 2010

Landmark Health Bill Approved--Nearly

Remember in 2008, when Obama promised a season of change in Washington?

It looks like it might have just begun, blooming with the beginning of spring's cherry blossoms. Just today, the House of Representatives approved the latest health care bill, which stipulates that health insurers allow children to stay on their parents' plans until their 26th birthday, that children with medical problems not be dropped from their family plans, and that many large companies face stiff fines for failing to cover their employees. The bipartisan bickering about passing this bill included a group of conservative Democrats (who are they, I want to know?) who insisted on including a clause clarifying that none of this federal health insurance money go to providing abortions.

Just what does this all mean?

It doesn't mean that getting health care coverage will be instantly easier, nor does it mean that this bill has yet become law. The vote now goes to the Senate. And even if the bill does get passed without hitch, it still might be several months before everyday Americans see real change in their health care coverage.

That said, I can't help fluttering with excitement at the thought that maybe, at some point, so many of the decisions I make in life aren't dictated by who will pay my medical bills, and how. It seems nothing short of ironic that this bill pass just two months shy of my 26th birthday, where for the past three years my family has been generous enough to pay to COBRA my health insurance. Fresh out of college I applied for my own health insurance, but was denied across the board because I have a pre-existing condition. I was offered insurance through my previous job, but didn't work there long enough for the transition between companies to make any real difference.

Now I'm back in school, and the CSU system (when faced with enough budget cuts to knock it to its knees) offers a laughable $500 reimbursement for insulin...per year. (Any diabetic reading this knows that one vial of insulin has a retail value of $90; as someone on an insulin pump, I go through 3 vials a month--$500 would last me about six weeks.) So - so I'm ridiculously lucky that my parents are able to help me out, but I'm damned well ready to help myself out, or to let the government throw me and my fellow pre-existing-conditioners a bone.

Harry Reid, you listening? Blue Cross? HealthNet? Aetna? Kaiser? Big business? Weak-kneed Democrats in the Senate, Republicans and Independents who don't know enough diabetics or asthmatics or recent college grads foregoing health insurance--I hope you're paying attention.

I hope you're all paying attention, because the rest of us everyday Americans, we certainly are.


L. said...

Julia, you are so right on. It's such a good thing, this passage. BUT ... it's not all golden. They had to make so many changes to this reform to even get it this far. As another pre-existing-conditioner, this part really worries me (and I'm copying from and their concerns):

"There is no cap on what insurance companies can charge people with so-called pre-existing conditions, including being a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault — insurance companies just can't refuse to cover you, but they can charge what they like and, worse yet, you'll be required to buy it or pay a fine."

That's not good. Yes, reform is better, much better. But it's far from perfect.

More here:


L. said...

And I spoke too soon. There's this (from the nytimes interactive health care reform thingy):

"Annual out-of-pocket medical costs will be capped at $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for families." ... even if you're high-risk. So, yay!

Bring on the REFORM. See more here:

slegg said...

Hi Julia,

Thank you so much for your personal response to the health care bill. I'm very excited about it's passage. I think that so many times folks don't want to support something because they don't see themselves being affected. Having people stand up and say, "Hey, this affects me," can make all the difference. The other day, I met a fellow who's brother died from lung cancer after the insurance company dropped his policy. Just ... so sad and injust.

Hope you are well and thanks for sharing.

Sarah Legg

gteamhj said...

Isn't she smart? And what a way with words, my girl.

miss J. said...

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful comments. Leanne, thanks for the update! I think things can only go up...I hope so! :) Thanks Sarah for your feedback, too, and Mom, thanks, you know, for the health insurance. x