I shouldn’t say “scared.” It’s more like skeptical and a bit confused.
That’s my absentee ballot you’re looking at. (I applied for one in some earlier phase when I guess I was traveling a lot. No idea. But I’ve been voting by mail for years now.) Um, I haven’t opened this one yet. Because I was waiting till I’d seen every debate — until “all the evidence was in,” at least on the healthcare issue.
But even after Wednesday night’s debate and the subsequent “punditing,” I’m feeling very uncertain on how the heck either candidate is really going to unravel the healthcare “hairball” in this country, and offer decent coverage to everyone — including the chronically ill. See Jenny’s thoughts on financial hooey and “Joe-the-Plumber.”
Personally, I figured out that even with good insurance, I’ve already spent close to $5,000 out-of-pocket on diabetes supplies and treatments this year alone. That doesn’t even touch what it costs to keep our three (thankfully healthy) children healthy: checkups and antibiotics and dentist appointments, and OMG, the orthodontist. We’re still on a legacy insurance plan from a previous employer, but may have to switch soon, and that thought makes my stomach feel queasy. Even if my preferred candidate gets elected, what is in store?!
Check out this excellent health scorecard post on the candidates over at the Diabetes Self-Management blog. I quote:
Both (candidates) want to keep the same screwed-up system with dozens of insurance companies controlling health care and adding tremendously to the costs. McCain’s plan would make private health insurance more affordable by providing a $2,500 tax credit for individuals and $5,000 for families. But it would do so by taxing employer health plans, which would push many employers into dropping their coverage.
So the net effect would be to push people from group (employer) plans on to individual plans, which have worse benefits. Jane Bryant Quinn of Newsweek says this would be hard on elders, women, and people with chronic illness. Overall, Quinn says, McCain’s plan would probably lead to one million more people getting coverage (out of about 45 million uninsured).
Obama’s plan seems a bit better better. It focuses on getting more people covered and would involve government in paying for “catastrophic care,” the really expensive stuff that drives up the price of health insurance for all. Medicare-like coverage would be made available to some people under 65. Obama says that about 30 million more people would be covered, at a cost of perhaps $60 billion a year at first. (It may drop if bargaining power helps control expenses.) So it’s not single-payer, but it’s something.
Wait, scroll back to that very first sentence: that’s exactly what worries me! At this point, I’m just praying that neither of them messes with COBRA, which is pretty much the only option for people with “pre-existing conditions” to stay insured if they lose their jobs — for a little while anyway.
Anybody out there got something reassuring to add?