Wednesday, March 01, 2006

HUH?

President Bush revealed his new health care "plan?" in his State of the Union Address. My first response was "Huh?". My second response was-"There HAS to be more to it than THIS!" Bush's "plan?", has been getting a lot of press lately. I've been reading EVERY article; trying to make sense of this "plan?".

Here's the "plan?", in a nutshell. OK, the "plan?"IS a nutshell! I'm giving you the WHOLE "plan?".
All uninsured Americans will buy a high-deductible health insurance policy from the company of their choice. This will create competition in the insurance industry, and drive down policy costs. SURE IT WILL!
Next, and here's the exciting part, the new policy holders will open up a special savings account. Here, they can deposit up to their deductible amount. Every year! Tax free! This escrow account can only be used to pay medical expenses that aren't covered by the cheapo health insurance policy. Young people, who are supposedly a lot healthier, will have a HUGE health care "nest egg", when they get older and unhealthier. REALLY?
That's all folks. End of "plan?".

Just for fun, let's put some figures into the "plan?".

L and I have a combined yearly gross income of $38,000.
Let's say that we can get a policy for $600/month with a $5000/person/year deductible. The premium will cost us $7200/year or 19% of our gross income.
Now we're liable for the first $5000 of EACH of our medical expenses. Let's say we have a good year and spend only $2000 on medical expenses for the 3 of us.
Our bill budget is $1360/month or $16,320/year.
Then we have food and gas at about $375/month or $4500/year.
This comes to a yearly total of $30,020.
This leaves us $7980/year for taxes, clothing, car and home maintainance and repair, entertainment, school supplies, gifts, toiletries, glasses, dental bills, and whatever else comes up in everyday life.

First of all, where do we get the $5000 apiece to put into that cute little "escrow account"? Tax free? Sorry, but most of us "poor folks" don't make enough to itemize, so tax free is a moot point. In addition, the last time I looked, savings accounts were earning 1/4% interest. That's not going to build that "nest egg" very well!

How many of the millions of uninsured Americans are going to jump right into this plan? My guess is......NOT MANY! And this is going to solve the problem of the high cost of medical care HOW?

C'mon Bush! Let's put some of the GREAT minds of this country to work on coming up with a REALISTIC "plan?"!

Here's my plan..... How about Bush and our congressmen putting all the kickbacks they've received from the insurance companies into an escrow account for all the uninsured Americans?

38 Comments:

At 3/01/2006 6:28 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

Hah! Your plan sounds like a good one to me. At least after I stopped laughing. You know these people, who've never known want, aren't giving up a penny to those who have. I sometimes think they are really clueless, heartless, yes, but clueless too.

I've always thought that health care shouldn't be based on ones income. But maybe I'm too much of a liberal for my own good.

 
At 3/01/2006 6:30 PM, Blogger --R said...

TSHSmom -- I totally agree with you. The company I work for unveiled this "great new option" to our healthcare coverage, and my mouth actually dropped open during the presentation. I took advantage of the break to snarl into my co-worker's ear: "are they CRAZY? That has to be the most stupid "plan" I've ever heard!" Needless to say -- I'm still on the PPO (and I'm thankful for that!).

 
At 3/01/2006 6:38 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

Cheers to your idea. It's absurd that I can work pretty darn hard and not be able to even afford medical coverage.

My guess is that not much will happen until more companies start dropping benefits to please stockholders who will cheer only to find that the companies they work for are doing the same thing to please their stockholders.

It's easy to say there isn't a problem when you don't have to go out and find coverage on your own.

 
At 3/01/2006 8:07 PM, Blogger Davey said...

Hey, as a Canadian (yes our health care is 100% free) I don't want to sound nit-picky but maybe instead of living in a war time economy and investing in weapons. Your government should invest in the people and most of all the children that make your country what it is. By the way what exactly is the health care plan for all the boomers that make up 67% of your aging workforce? Are there apprentice programs for skilled trades? Why not spend the money it takes for 3 tomahawk missles and upgrade the public school system school. Your point is totaly valid that the "working poor" cannot afford to buy into a plan. This is the first time in history that the majority of kids will not do as well or better than thier parents. An interesting point to my argument is that George Bush Sr.'s book he staes that Going into the interier of Iraq to affect wide change is a deadly idea because there is no and cannot be an exit plan.??? What the hell hasto my spelling? Anyway just some thoughts from an outsider.
Davey

 
At 3/01/2006 8:57 PM, Blogger SME said...

If Klein ultimately gets his way, we'll be in the same boat before long. Well, not exactly the same boat cause the "plan?" is about as retarded as it gets, but we'll be paying through the nose for health care. And who benefits?

 
At 3/01/2006 9:11 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Squirl, I think it's mostly clueless. When Bush Sr was running for president, he was asked what he thought about our health care problems. His answer..."What problems?"
I think we should have a nat'l health plan with copays based on income.

-r, I swear that the "people in charge" have zip for math skills! In addition, big corporations and insurance companies think that we're all too stupid to figure out what they're trying to pull.

Shawn, why does Bush think there are so many uninsured people? Because we can't afford the premiums! If we can't afford the premiums, how is this "plan?" supposed to help?
You're right, insured people have no clue about the cost of health care! They also think that it shouldn't count as part of their income. I'm sorry, but you and I have to pay taxes on the money we pay out for health care!

Davey, you're absolutely right!! It's been said that you can judge a society by how they treat their aged and children. We're not measuring up too well. :(

 
At 3/01/2006 9:12 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Oh god, don't get me started... I get pissed to the point of stammering everytime this subject is discussed.

 
At 3/01/2006 9:14 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Not the working class SME.

 
At 3/01/2006 9:16 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Me too GWB!!

 
At 3/01/2006 9:54 PM, Blogger FunkyB said...

His plans remind me of my kids' promise to clean their room before I get home from work.

It's a lot of "yeah yeah" and no results.

 
At 3/01/2006 10:10 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

LOL Funky! The bad part is that we can't even ground him or cut off his allowance!

 
At 3/01/2006 10:15 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Great idea, tshsmom. The concept of seniors and other vulnerable folks having to choose between medication and food is outrageous.

How about all elected officials having to participate in all of the schemes that they propose? No special medical (or other) care, and they get to wait in line with the rest of us.

 
At 3/01/2006 10:16 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

p.s. the situation is not much better in Canada. Yes the care is free but it's ancient, the technology's very old and the waiting lines are unbelievable.

Unless you're a politician.

 
At 3/01/2006 10:30 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

That's a GREAT idea, Bridg!
It's already been suggested that we abolish the retirement plan for our elected officials and put them on Social Security instead.
I'll bet the shit would really fly if they lost their benefits! ;)

 
At 3/02/2006 7:09 AM, Blogger Laura said...

This just shows how out of touch Bush is with the reality of life for most people. Seems they're just funneling money to the insurance agencies.

 
At 3/02/2006 12:46 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

I don't know how it is there, but here, when you go driving somewhere and you pass one of those big, new, 'wow, what's that' buildings...it's always an insurance company. Always.

And they're the companie that are always whining about how hard it is to stay afloat, what with having to pay out all those pesky claims and all.

It makes me angry beyond words.

Tell you what people...elect me to local office and I'll use those fine, newly granted eminent domain powers to take over all those fine, new buildings and turn them into something charitable...it would be for the good of the community you know. And while I'm at it...I might seize all the cable lines and substations to provide free - or, at least, low-cost - internet access for everyone.

Grrrr...

 
At 3/02/2006 2:03 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Laura, it's not just Bush. 90% of our elected officials don't have a clue how the working class lives. They all want to fix our health care problems through insurance companies. Gee, I wonder who's buying them off?

Shawn, that sounds like a fantastic use of eminent domain!!

Whenever the insurance companies are forced to pay out huge sums, like 9/11, the gov't subsidizes them. Then they raise EVERYBODIES premiums. You watch, the gov't will subsidize them again, over this Katrina mess.

 
At 3/02/2006 2:13 PM, Blogger Candace said...

Apparently we get our fair share of Canadians coming here (we're close to the border) for health care because they can't get it at home. I know that in the 90s there was an underground railroad for smuggling Canadian heart patients into Detroit so they could get surgery before they died. There was a big flap in Canada when they were exposed, so maybe it was shut down. At any rate, I don't think socialised medicine is the answer.

Not a complete solution by any means, but something that would help would be cutting out frivolous lawsuits which have led to all the bogus CYA measures of running all kinds of extra and unneccesary tests. How? Maybe by making the losing party pay both parties' court costs. I don't think competition amongst the insurance companies can be a bad thing. But only time will tell whether it will work.

Sadly, you make too much money to avail yourself of the medicaid your taxes buy for lower income families. Ironic, isn't it?

 
At 3/02/2006 2:16 PM, Blogger Miladysa said...

Great plan of yours THSHmon.

The really scare thing for me is that Blair might adopt Bush's unhealthy plan for health here next...

 
At 3/02/2006 2:56 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Don't get me started on the lawsuit thing, Candace! GRrrr!

I know a 20-something guy that broke his arm at work, which was partially HIS fault. The company is now paying him regular wages for the rest of his life, for NOT working. His arm healed normally and he is able to fly an airplane, snowmobile, work in his yard, and everything else you and I can do!

When my husband broke his arm, he went to work the next day and unloaded a truckload of freight.

Sa, I certainly hope that this ignorance isn't catchy!

 
At 3/02/2006 6:56 PM, Blogger Bhakti said...

It's funny how the rich people who are ruining...oops! I meant RUNNING this country don't have a CLUE about what it's like to pay for one's own health insurance. I was just starting my third year of teaching in the public school system in NJ and then I had to have this emergency cervical spine therapy. After all of my sick days were absorbed, I was told that I was going to have to pay for my own health insurance. Okay, so, now I haven't gotten paid since November, 2005 and my savings are exhausted. I filed for Social Security Disability Benefits and was told that it could take up to two years to win my case (even though I was told that I am ELIGIBLE for the disibility payments, considering I can't work because I am on so many drugs to kill the neuropathy that's burning a hole through my entire left arm.)

That all being said, now I am a 36 year old who is living with her parents again and paying $450 per month to pay for health insurance.

Where am I supposed to get this money from, and what am I supposed to do for the two years I am waiting for my Social Security benefits??? I had half of the discs in my deck removed and replaced with metal, and I have severe neuropathy--so why can't I get the Social Security money that I have been paying into for the past 20 years???

Everyone, please pray that I get the SS money before the two years. Thank you!!

Love,
Bhakti

Oh yeah, my point was this: If I was a rich politician, I wouldn't have to worry about the money aspect of things. But, since I was only a lowly public servant school teacher, I have to get down on my hands and beg for the money that is rightfully mine. Well, I ain't too proud to beg, so SHOW ME DA MONEY!!

Gotta go, my arm is gonna fall off now!!!

 
At 3/02/2006 7:10 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Bhakti, you were right the first time, ruining is correct.
I had NO idea that you wouldn't be able to return to teaching. This is devastating! We need all the GOOD teachers we can get!
SS is another thing that the rich politicians have screwed up. We need somebody in office that understands how REAL people live!
My prayers are with you, my friend!

Does this mean that you won't be opening your health escrow account anytime soon? ;)

 
At 3/02/2006 7:45 PM, Blogger greatwhitebear said...

Candace, it sometimes works the other way too. My cousin had to go to London ONT to get a specialized heart surgery that isn't preformed here.

He was sent there by Henry Ford Hospital, with agreement of U of M Medical Center.

And if you look at morbidy rates in the US compared to those indutrialized countries with socialized medicine, you would certainly have to concede the superiority of that system. In fact, the fact that Briget lives in Canada means chances are she will live three years longer than if she had stayed in the US.

Of all the industrialized countries, only the Maltese die earlier than Americans do. Which is shocking when you consider the amount of alcohol, tobacco and fatty foods consumed by the Germans, Brits. French and the amount of tobacco, alcohol and salt consumed by the Japanese.

Tobacco consumption in Japan is
2 1/2 times US consumption, but the average life expectancy is 8 years longer.

 
At 3/02/2006 9:37 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

GWB, it'll only FEEL like three years longer lol.....

 
At 3/03/2006 11:00 AM, Blogger Candace said...

GWB (are you really George W Bush? ;o) ) but that was for technical procedure reasons and not insurance reasons, correct? The ones who are coming here from Canada are coming because they can't get through the waiting line there before they die. It's a far from perfect system But I don't think *anyone* has the perfect system yet, or even close. That's why everyone is still looking for one. :o)

 
At 3/03/2006 9:29 PM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

Yikes! I'm one of the rich ones. I am not ignorant, though. My father, a physician, retired from a career in the Public Health Service. He wasn't an orthopedist with a handful of multi-million dollar properties. In fact, he is 66 and still has a good long mortgage ahead of him. He and my husband, also a physician, work to help Worker's Compensation. While they do some individual work, they more help represent folks who have been involved in a major occupational exposure to hazards which have affected, or could affect a substantial portion of the work force. They also do environmental cases.

So, I've got it made, right? My husband started our marriage $35,000 in debt from medical school. It would have been worse had he not had full paying scholraships to cover college. Okay, well, that's normal.

He had to spend more than $100,000 on legal fees to get his medical licensure. He had a brain tumor from birth which gave him tremors. Young kid out of medical school didn't know squat about booze. He overindulged at a party, but it didn't hit him until he was driving home. Alarmed, he pulled onto the shoulder of the highway and turned the car off. He fell asleep and was awakened by a cop.

Because the keys were in the ignition, he was driving; BANG DUI. Court-ordered inpatient evaluation for substance abuse. Saw his hands shaking (from the brain tumor), called it DT's and moved to deny his application for licensure. Attorneys saved him after a few years.

Sooo, he got his license, but dares not practice in this land of lawsuits and doom. He does consulting, almost never ever seeing a patient. Want to know what is really sad? Just to my left, on the wall, there is a framed certificate of his (one of many). It says, "Alpha Omega Alpha." That is the national medical honors society, and they do NOT hand those out lightly.

One of America's best is downstairs at work on his laptop trying to help the Department of Justice with an occupational matter. We had a bad year last year. We started the new year $65,000.00 in debt. Just because he does occational have to evaluate a patient, we are shelling out more than $20,000 per year in Malpractice Insurance.

He almost never sees three in a year. They think it is expensive to see him. It costs him almost $7,000.00 to see them!

Oh, yeah, health insurance for us? Small business, no benefits, history of a brain tumor. More than 1K just for him. Then, you can start in on his prescription bill, for which he has no coverage. Look before you leap! Do not envy the wealthy! ;-)

And yes, I know I actually am financially better off, although many of you are living a better lifestyle. The massive debt we carry has mandated an austere lifestyle. For last year, anyway, Being wealthier simply meant we could go further into debt. I doubt those pointing fingers at the rich have $65,000.00 of home equity to blow.

Oh, yeah. He doesn't have disability insurance. If something happens to him, everything goes "POOF" and we move to my unimproved acreage in rural Oklahoma. There could be worse fates.

It's your turn again, fire away! :-D

 
At 3/03/2006 10:52 PM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Oh dear. Grizzly Mama is in the minority AGAIN. I always find myself here and it's such an uncomfortable place to be.

I do not believe that socialized medicine is the answer. I DO believe that limiting malpractice awards is a good idea. (This from a person who has heart damage from a mistake with my last C-section but can I sue? No. They guy with the 'soft tissue damage' in his back will get 6 figures though) Anyhoo - that would help. I thought 'W' was hot to deregulate health insurance in some way that would open up the possibility of buying insurance across state borders. That might help although I don't know much about it.

I L*O*V*E my flexible medical spending account. You spit at it - but I like it - ALOT. We are not wealthy by ANY stretch of the imagination. We have had periods of no health coverage. Never have we found ourselves without healthcare though. Not once never. We are pretty healthy though thank goodness - - well. Aside from a few minor yet long term afflictions.

My kids have been on medicaid. They were covered and thank goodness for it temporarily. They are not eligible for medicaid now as my husband 'makes too much money'. LOL! Enter CHIP - the state healthcare available for kids who do not qualify for medicaid. His health insurance kicks in about 30 days from now.

There are clinics where healthcare can be had for a reasonable cost. Do I like clinics? No I do not. I have availed myself of their services in the past. I like cushy, pretty doctors offices with nice music and good magazines.

In my travels through infertility problems I have heard NIGHTMARE stories from women in Canada and unable to get specialist treatment for a year or more. How did *I* do it? My flexible spending account honey. That paid for the specialist in Chicago.

HillaryCare would be a disaster and I am dead set against it. The Canadian Health system I have heard too many horror stories about. The UK? Well atleast in the UK you CAN buy private insurance if you want but by God you will be paying your taxes into the national health system - that is BTW rife with bloated bureaucratic inefficiency and delay. Old equipment. The superbug. Yuck.

For an interesting opinion about the welfare state see this link:
The Decay....

Do we want to go down that road? I vote no. The beauty of America is that Americans pay less taxes(and we should be paying even less than we are) and have more disposable income. We donate. We donate to all KINDS of causes - medical care for the needy being just one of those causes.

Do you actually trust the government to run a health care system?! Please. Don't even go there. We make a pittance compared to many and we donate to causes we believe in - even if it's just a few dollars - we do it. I know that you do to. It's the American way. Don't even go where The Hildebeast wanted to take us.

 
At 3/04/2006 7:36 AM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Sage, you are in NO WAY, part of the "rich" we are talking about. You're actually having MORE problems with the current system, than the rest of us.
Insurance companies are reaping the rewards of your troubles!

Monica, our lawmakers aren't tackling this problem in a realistic manner. Most of them don't address the problem AT ALL!
Our MN legislature is more concerned with cramming TWO pro sports stadiums down our throats, than keeping their constituents healthy!! Our federal legislature is too busy bickering about which political party will have control of our lives.
It's time for us voters to take back the system, and elect lawmakers who are concerned with the well-being of their constituents and their country!!

Our lawmakers need to look outside the box to solve our health care problems. The WHOLE SYSTEM needs to be revamped! Unfortunately this won't happen while they're being bought off by the insurance companies!

 
At 3/04/2006 12:26 PM, Blogger Sagepaper said...

Sorry, last yar was stressful. I am just getting to the point of writing again. I have not given this enough thought to have a great plan. I do like the structure of the Medigap insurance coverage.

There is a certain number of Medigap plans to choose from. Each has federally mandated coverage -- it does not matter which company you use, they must provide off-the-shelf plans for you. They only compete in premium cost and quality of service. Seeing it in use among the elderly, it appears to be a good system.

I think it would be nice, and simpler for folks to understand and comparison shop, if we had a similar structure for the rest of us. The only problem with Medigap is you must choose from about eight programs. You are as bound by the package deals as are the insurance companies.

It seems to me that we ought to be able to have the best of both worlds for the younger and healthier. We could have some off-the-shelf plans, hopefully portable. To avoid de facto price fixing, and enjoy a free market, we could perhaps also have access to coverage which is not regulated, and is not off-the-shelf.

Under a system like that, I would hope there might be some sliding fee scale for the package deals. If not, everyone would still have access to an assortment of plans which would offer at least something you could afford and which would be meaningful coverage.

An advantage to that would also be trying to get changes in the system. Instead of pushing for a whole new, controversial law, we could simply petititon for an amendment to an existing law. That would still take effort, but not nearly as much.

 
At 3/04/2006 12:57 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Sage, "meaningful coverage" for the price SHOULD be the goal of our lawmakers. As long as there are stockholders involved in insurance companies, that ain't gonna happen. :(
BTW, I'm ECSTATIC to see you back!!

 
At 3/04/2006 3:21 PM, Blogger Candace said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 3/04/2006 3:22 PM, Blogger Candace said...

Nothing bad - just put it in the wrong place, LOL!

 
At 3/07/2006 1:45 AM, Blogger Scrubs & Shines said...

Sounds like another get rich quick plan on the U.S. horizon, that is for the rich. Up here we are witnessing another horizon, the sunset of free health care as we know it, Our conservative goverment continues to Americanize us...( does Bush sell Amway?)

 
At 3/07/2006 5:29 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Doug, I think Bush is the secret Amway leader. ;)

 
At 3/08/2006 7:44 PM, Blogger SME said...

Hey, don't laugh, Amway gives huge amounts of campaign cash to Republicans! :D

 
At 3/08/2006 9:42 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Maybe it's not so secret? ;)

 
At 3/09/2006 7:54 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

First of all, in Canada our health care is not 100% free everywhere. We pay premiums monthly in BC and yearly at tax time in ON. There is premium assistance if you make below a certain amount of money in BC, and I think the system in ON is like a sliding scale but I'm not sure exacly how it works because last year was the first year it was in effect. Eye exams are not free in ON and BC anymore. Paramedials like physio therapy generally are not free in BC and ON. Perscriptions are not generally free, but can be subsidized if you're elderly or need some kind of socail assistance. But, regardless, you have hospital access, access to doctors, including specialists, and other services like lab, x-rays, etc. It is way, way better than what you have - or don't - in the US.

Bush's plan is moronic, which is unsurprising. You still would have to opt into it, and that will not make it universal for the reasons you stated. You still have a for-profit system which in the end helps no one but the ones raking in the cash.

Yep - your plan sounds best, tshsmom. But it's too easy.

 
At 3/10/2006 5:35 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

The ON plan you explained sound like a plan I suggested, when I was talking to my boss. Every year at tax time, you get a new health card. The amount of your premium and co-pays depends on your income.
I KNOW that we have great minds that could figure this problem out without much of a problem. They'll never get the chance if our politicians keep insisting on enriching the insurance companies.
I realize that if we made everything too easy we wouldn't have a use for all the beaurocrats. Wouldn't that be a shame? ;)

 

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