Behind closed doors members of Congress are hammering out plans to change the shape of the current health care system. Details are still somewhat scarce, but House and Senate member are determined to have a bill put together by the middle of the summer and actual reform by year end. Outlined below are changes that we might expect to see in the not so distant future.
Congress seems determined to create a federally subsidized health care pool. In essence this will be government created and run health insurance. It will compete with the private carriers and most likely will force health insurance prices down across the board if it undercuts currently available plans.
If govt insurance provides good care and is popular with hospitals and doctors, then it will go a long way toward driving out private insurance in the individual and family marketplace. If the insurance is substandard and unpopular with health care professionals, then private plans will remain necessary. If consumers are receiving better attention from their health care providers with private insurance, it will be advantageous to avoid a government run plan.
One goal of health care reform may be to ensure that all Americans have health insurance coverage. This could only be done by creating mandates like those we have seen with car insurance. Mandates will require that individuals and families purchase or qualify for some type of federally mandated minimum insurance coverage. Individuals and families will either qualify for state run coverage like Medicaid or be forced to either join the government pool or purchase private insurance. Underwriting will be virtually non-existent for preexisting conditions, but tobacco use will still be a factor in determining monthly premiums.
There is also talk of requiring most, if not all, small and large businesses to provide health insurance to their employees. This will likely only be offered from private insurers like Anthem, Aetna, United Healthcare or others, but perhaps the government will be active here as well. How this will ultimately affect businesses is yet to be determined. It could however become a financial burden to small business owners across the country – especially those operating on slim profit margins.
In summary, plans are underway and change will soon be upon us. It will be interesting to see what evolves from the ongoing talks between legislators, unions, hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and corporate advocates. It will also be intriguing to see if these plans actually drive down the cost of health care now and into the future.
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