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March 20 05:36 PM
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Idea for health care debate


To the Editor:

With so much debate going on out in the community, I thought I might weigh in. It seems that since the Republican Party is so vehemently opposed to having a public option as part of health care reform legislation that we could just have a public option and deny members of the Republican Party access to that option for healthcare. As ludicrous as that sounds, it is one way to settle the dispute. It's an appalling, unconstitutional way in which to resolve the dispute, and I don't necessarily support it, but it could be done. Another and better solution though would be to stop allowing private insurance providers to weigh in so heavily in this debate. Believe it or not, companies like Blue Cross and Aetna do not have our best interests in mind; their concern is their bottom line and nothing else. That being the case, why are we listening to these companies regarding a public healthcare option? These companies want a monopoly, not competition; of course they're opposed to a public option.

Consider if you will the fact that private health insurers have had over 50 years to make healthcare affordable to the masses. In that time, profits for those companies have skyrocketed, and premiums have increased at an exponential rate. Right now Michigan Blue Cross is proposing a 20% increase in premiums. These companies haven't worked to reduce costs in the past 50 years because it isn't in their best interests to do so.

To put this into perspective, consider that a family of three having no pre-existing conditions currently pays about $547 per month for decent, basic healthcare coverage from Michigan Blue Cross. An increase of 20% would raise those rates by $108 per month. A person working 40 hours a week at a minimum wage job grosses about $1,247 a month. Even allowing such a person to pay nothing in taxes, which doesn't happen, such a person's health care coverage for their family would take almost half of their monthly income. This is the reality that many of our congressmen and these private health insurers are either not grasping, or care nothing about. That is why we need to start listening to those of us who will be most affected by this legislation, and not the private companies.

I have read parts of the House Bill on healthcare. There are some concerning aspects of that bill, it is far too long and complicated, and is far from perfect. However, the House Bill is not all bad, and the House Bill is at least a starting point. I for one am not opposed to a public option if for no other reason than to force competition among the insurance providers. An alternate approach would be to make the federal employee benefit program available to all of us, enact legislation that would prevent those companies from denying coverage to those of us with pre-existing conditions, and cap the premiums at a rate that would be affordable to everyone. Another option might be to just open the state borders and allow real competition to occur by allowing price shopping for healthcare across state lines. Michigan Blue Cross and Maryland Blue Cross are not the same animals; one is cheaper than the other and offers better coverage. These are just a couple options, maybe they are good options and maybe they aren't. The fact is, this is an issue that took 50 years to create, it is an extremely complex issue for that reason, and no solution will result in a quick fix. In any event, we need to stop putting stock in what the private insurance companies think on the issue, remember they don't have our best interests in mind.

Eric G. Scott, Esq., North Branch
August 26, 2009

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