Health Care Reform in Flyover Country

“But I want to keep my insurance.”Cancer Survivor in Georgia

We’ve been whipped up into such a frenzy on the supposed health care emergency you’d  think people are dying in the streets from New York to Albuquerque, and that most of your family will soon go bankrupt paying their doctor bills. But all this is just more of the same blue smoke and mirrors that stampeded the prescription drug plan through in the days of George Bush.  Only about 20% of seniors didn’t have a plan that included their prescriptions but Congress just had to cover everyone.  Now we’ve got numbers well over 70% of people polled saying they want “reform.”  And reform is a good thing, until you see the details.

I spoke to a friend of mine who just received her $250 check from President Obama and I finally got up enough nerve to broach the subject of healthcare reform.  She has cancer and is alive today because of very aggressive treatment made available to her immediately upon her diagnosis.  She has good insurance and a supplemental cancer policy, so all the options were open to her.  She and her family made the choice to have that coverage and they paid for it.

She was so sick just before the election that when she told me she was voting for Obama, I couldn’t bring myself to give her a hard time about it.  I did suggest it wouldn’t be so terrible if she didn’t feel up to going to the polls. Finally, last week, as we celebrated the one year anniversary of her diagnosis and the successful management of her disease, I got up the nerve to bring up the health care reform discussion.

“But I want to keep my insurance,” she said.  “President Obama said I could keep my insurance.”  The dirty little secret is you can keep your insurance as long as you don’t make any changes in it if the president gets his way.  But only until your employer chooses to pay a government fee which will cost less than the insurance premiums he pays. Or until the “government provider” forces your private insurer out of the market by “competition.”

My dear friend is getting a better quality of life with the illness she has than in any part of the world because her middle class priorities included health care coverage even when she was unemployed and at another time when her husband was unemployed. She put health care coverage at the top of the list.  Right up there with food, shelter and transportation, was health insurance.  And because of her family history, she added a cancer policy that has more than paid for itself in the last year. She took responsibility for her health and she wants to be able to continue to do that. I’m not sure if I’ve convinced her she was wrong to vote for President Obama but I think I made some progress on how she looks at her precious health care coverage.

Rick Scott of Conservatives for Patients Rights ( has looked at every one of the plans out there.  Plans that Governors have put forth and plans being talked about or have been introduced in Congress. He’s built health care delivery systems in the past and is doing it again in Florida with clinics around the state operated by Solantic Corporation.  You walk in and the prices are posted so you know what your health care is going to cost.  His collections at Solantic are almost 50% cash and that’s unheard of in the health care world today.  

He recommends “Four Pillars of Healthcare Reform.”  They are, Choice- the right to choose your doctor and the health plan that fits your budget and needs. Many states have health insurance mandates that raise the cost of insurance. Competition- providers post prices and outcomes and allow insurance companies to sell across state lines. Accountability- there should be the same tax break for individuals as employers so more individuals own their own policies and there should be standard insurance forms.  And finally and most importantly, Personal Responsibility- reward people for not smoking, for exercising and for eating right. About half of all health problems are lifestyle related.  Think of the resources that could be freed up if just one half of us adjusted our lifestyle in a healthy way.

Thankfully, the Blue Dog Democrats have bought us, the fly over Americans, some time. They said in a letter to Speaker Pelosi last Thursday they had "strong reservations about the process and direction" of the proposed legislation. And “paying for health care reform must start with finding savings within the current delivery system and maximizing the value of our health care dollar before we ask the public to pay more.” This makes it very unlikely the bill will get out of the House and Senate by the August recess when the American people can let their legislators know how they feel.