Thursday, August 20, 2009

Your Health Care Reform Questions Answered- Part 3

There are lots of rumors flying around and plenty of misinformation available regarding the health care reform proposals currently before Congress. Today's questions address some of the confusing things you may have been hearing.

Q: Will health care reform lead to a “government takeover” of health care or result in “socialized medicine,” as some claim?
A: No. The bills before Congress preserve our nation’s current employer-based private health insurance system, with public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid continuing to be available as a safety net for older and low-income Americans. The “government takeover” concern is largely based on the public health insurance option that may be available as a choice under some of the bills. It’s very important to note, however, that each person, not the government, would decide whether a private plan or a public plan is the right plan for him or her – if the public plan choice is available at all.

Q: Will health reform lead to rationing of care, as some have said?
A: No. This concern is based on provisions in the bill that authorize “comparative effectiveness research.” This is research that evaluates which drugs or other treatments work best for different medical conditions and different patients. The American Heart Association supports this research because it will provide doctors and their patients with more and better information to help them decide the best course of treatment. Ultimately, however, doctors and patients − not insurance companies or the government −will decide what treatment is best.

Q. I’ve heard claims that health care reform will deny older Americans end-of-life care. What is this about?
A. Nothing could be further from the truth. The House health reform bill includes a provision that would provide reimbursement to physicians who provide counseling to Medicare patients about the care they choose to receive if they have a living will or an advance directive. These consultations are not mandatory, occur only upon the request of the patient, and in fact are designed to make certain that the patient’s wishes come before those of insurance companies or hospitals.

Stay tuned for answers to more questions over the next few weeks. In the meantime, share your questions with us by commenting on this post!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Your Health Care Reform Questions Answered- Part 2

Thank you, Barb, for posting your questions and personal experience in response to our last post about Health Care Reform. We will address questions today regarding the affect on those who have coverage now and funding for health care reform. I would encourage others to share their questions as well, by commenting on this post.

Q: Will I be able to keep my current health insurance coverage if I want to?
Yes. If you currently have health insurance coverage and you like that coverage, you’ll be able to keep it. We recognize, as does President Obama and Congress, that most Americans who are currently insured receive their coverage through their employer and two-thirds of them are satisfied with that coverage.

Q: Will the health care reform bills mean that I will pay more if I have good coverage now?
A: The goal of health care reform is to make health care more affordable for individuals and families as well as for our nation. Americans pay more for our health care than any other country, in part because we are covering the uninsured in a very inefficient way after they get sick and seek care at an emergency room. Some estimate that individuals with insurance pay up to $1,100 more per year through higher premiums and taxes because of uncompensated care received in public hospitals and emergency rooms.

Q: I’ve heard that health reform will cost at least $1 trillion – is this true?
: The $1 trillion cost that has been reported in the media is the cost over a 10-year period (an average of $100 billion a year). It is also important to note, however, that Congressional budget rules require that the health reform bills be fully paid for so that they won’t add to our national debt. The cost estimate also doesn’t take into account the private savings that would result from health reform through such provisions as improved care coordination and a greater emphasis on preventing disease. Finally, we need to consider the cost of delay and inaction. Without reform, costs are projected to continue to escalate, 16 million more Americans are projected to lose their coverage over the next decade, and millions more will have their out-of-pocket health costs rise substantially.

Stay tuned for answers to more questions over the next few weeks. In the meantime, share your questions with us by commenting on this post!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Your Health Care Reform Questions Answered!

The health care reform debate can be confusing– the current health insurance system is very complex and there are several different bills to reform it. Many people are left with questions about the different proposals and just what the bills mean for them.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be answering some of the most frequently asked questions about health care reform on this blog. We'll address basic questions about the impact of health care reform for heart and stroke patients as well as questions about specific proposals. First up...

Q: Why does the American Heart Association support health care reform?

A: We believe that the bills before Congress, while not perfect, will make care more available and affordable for the millions of individuals with heart disease and stroke who are uninsured or have inadequate coverage. The bills preserve what works in our current healthcare system; include an important and long overdue emphasis on preventing illness; and will help to improve the quality of care that everyone receives. The bills also make sure that individuals are protected from insurers that evade their obligations to pay for needed care.

Stay tuned for answers to more questions over the next few weeks. In the meantime, share your questions with us by commenting on this post!