Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Democratic Health Care Plan In Plain English

Like it or lump it, the Democrats will probably get their health care plan. There are still some hurdles – the biggest being the need to reconcile the House and Senate bills in conference – but the two bills start out with 80% agreement.

Why then all the political theater about the differences between the House and Senate bills? Posturing, mostly – Senators Ben Nelson & Joe Lieberman wanting to look like outsiders. Nevertheless, we’ve got a very clear idea of what health care reform will look like – here’s the bullet points:

*Young adults will be able to stay on their parents health insurance policies until age 26. This is awesome – most kids right out of college can’t afford health insurance, and can’t find a job that’ll give them one. And speaking of employer based health insurance…

*If you have health insurance from your employer, no big changes. Also, feel free to hold the fact that you get health insurance from your employer over your friends heads, as nobody is getting this anymore.

*Insurance companies will be forced to come up with a binding appeals process – that way, if you get denied coverage by your insurer, you’ll have legal recourse beyond banging the phone on the table, or crying.

*Catastrophic high-rick insurance will be made available right away. This is for people with pre-existing conditions (like me, your sleep-apnea’d author) who, due to our high-risk, can’t get health insurance for any cheaper than $500/month (thanks, Blue Cross!) or simply can’t get it at all (thanks, Kaiser Permanente!)

*If you don’t have the money for health insurance, or have pre-existing conditions, you’ll also be able to buy insurance from a regulated marketplace called an Insurance Exchange. This’ll take a while to get off the ground, but it’ll have limits on out of pocket expenses, and looks to be pretty comprehensive. I’m very much looking forward to hanging out in this gigantic Insurance Exchange.

*If you’re on Medicare or Medicaid, you’re not reading this article.

That’s the short and the short of it. Will any of this work at all? Who knows – because Congress is involved, I have my doubts. But hey, we’ll all find out together over the next few years – let’s hope this thing works!

Source: NPR’s Fresh Air & The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn (

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