Thursday, September 23, 2010

Health Care Reform: Reality Starting To Sink In



That reality, costs are going up and the blame game is starting. Today, Sept 23, 2010, some of the first reforms will become effective such as, insurance companies can no longer put a dollar limit on essentials benefits (hospital and lab services), dependent children will be covered until age 26 and preventive care will have no deductable.

CBS Evening News reported that already insurance companies are raising rates and telling customers it is because of the changes in the law:

Insurers like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois have already sent letters notifying customers of premium hikes up to 13 percent total. All, they say, because of health care reform.


The White House and HHS Secretary Sebelius are not happy about this and accuse the insurers of using misleading information and scare tactics. In a letter to the, American’s Health Insurance Plans President and CEO, Sebilus states in first paragraph:

It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act. I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.


Further down in the letter:

Given the importance of the new protections and the facts about their impact on costs, I ask for your help in stopping misinformation and scare tactics about the Affordable Care Act. Moreover, I want AHIP’s members to be put on notice: the Administration, in partnership with states, will not tolerate unjustified rate hikes in the name of consumer protections.


However, Health insurers do expect health care costs to increase by 10.5-11 percent, with the health care reform law projected to add 2-5 percent over the next three years, according to a survey by Aon Consulting.

The Coalition to Protect Patient Rights, a grass root organization of over 10,000 doctors, spokesman Dr. Donald J. Palmisano is very concerned over the health care law many flaws stating:
“It’s not surprising to those of us who paid attention to the legislative process that a new government analysis would show health care costs are going to be higher under the reform bill than they would have been without passage of the law,” Dr. Palmisano said. “What I’m most concerned about, however, is that these increased costs will add to the difficulty of patients getting the care they so desperately need. We need less government and more care in our health care system.”

“In addition to failing to rein in health care spending, the health bill’s cuts to the Medicare program’s funding will impede the ability of American patients to get the care they need,” Dr. Palmisano said.


Now back to the CBS News report where the reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, posed this question:

But don't the insurance companies have a right to make their own analyses and claims to their customers?

"Absolutely, they have a right to communicate with their customers," replied HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We just want to make sure that communication is as accurate as possible."

But accuracy may be in the eye of the beholder. And insurers are firing back, asking how can they be forced to increase benefits, then be prevented from telling customers why costs are on the rise?

"We strongly believe that our policy holders have a right to this information," Zirkelbach said.


People who are indifferent or even for the Health Care Reform, I hope that they are starting to see the myriad of complex issues this the Health Care Law is causing. The one thing that is clear is that the debate is far from over, Hang on folks it is going to be a bump ride.


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