Senator Dodd has an interesting op-ed on healthcare reform in today’s New London Day. As a self-employed writer with two kids with health issues (Type 1 diabetes, etc.) I’m one of those people that the Senator refers to in his op-ed who pays as much for health insurance each month as I do for my mortgage, and who lives in fear each year at renewal time that my carrier is going to say, “Sorry, we’re not going to insure you anymore” and then I’ll end up in the state’s “loser’s pool” where I’ll pay even MORE for insurance and get even LESS coverage. (Been there before, when I moved back here from the UK, and it sucked, big time.)
So am I hot under the collar about health care reform? As that other Sarah would say, “You betcha!” I also have the benefit of having lived under a system of socialized medicine (shock! horror!) in the UK for fifteen years and you know what? Overall, it’s a heck of a lot better than what we have here PLUS you still have the option of carrying private insurance.
But enough about me. Let’s look at what’s happening here in Connecticut under the current system:
Health care costs are rising faster than our economy is growing, crushing family budgets and businesses alike. Already Americans spend 18 cents of every dollar on health care. If we continue down this path, that figure will double by 2040. This week, we learned that 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies were caused by medical problems. And today, nearly half of all home foreclosures are attributable, in part, to financial issues stemming from medical costs.
We’ve clearly reached a tipping point. Today, some 46 million Americans are without health insurance – including more than 322,000 in Connecticut; millions more have insurance that costs too much and covers too little. Meanwhile, premiums and out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families alike continue to skyrocket. Here in Connecticut, they’re up 42 percent over the last eight years alone.
My insurance premium went up 16% just in the last year, well over the rate of inflation. The year before it was close to 20%. But from Senator Dodd’s op-ed, it sounds like help might be on the way:
This week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee will put forward a historic health care reform proposal…For me, the bottom line is that we need to preserve the ability for people to choose their own doctors, hospitals, and insurance plans. If you like what you have, you can keep it; if you don’t, you’ll finally have affordable options available to you. In my view, that must include a public health insurance option in addition to private options.
Almost equally as important, the bill must drive down costs for families, businesses and government alike. The Council of Economic Advisers just found that if we shave a mere 1.5 percent off the growth of health care costs each year, families will have thousands of extra dollars in their pockets to spend on a down payment for a first home or to send a child to college. Small businesses, which pay higher premiums than larger businesses, will have more affordable choices they need to compete and innovate. Reducing costs is absolutely essential to getting our economy back on track. Thirdly, we need to expand coverage. Eighty-six million Americans go without coverage at some point every year; millions more live in fear that they may lose their job and with it their health insurance. Failing to cover everyone costs the average family in Connecticut $700 every year…A top priority for me will be putting an end to unfair practices that make insurance unaffordable or unattainable for American families. No longer will people be denied coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition such as a heart attack, cancer, or because they were a victim of domestic violence. And the days of rescinding a policy after it has already been issued will be over.
I can only hope that there is the bipartisan political will to tackle this issue, because health care costs are crippling Democrats and Republicans alike.