Given the excitement, both positive and negative, about the recently signed health care bill, I thought I'd give my perspective on it. First of all, I have to admit that I don't understand the "reconciliation" process. I don't know if it's legal or responsible, but I'm glad to have some kind of health care reform on the books and I don't think it would have gone through otherwise. Secondly, I think that this health care reform is very limited and will not solve all of our health care issues - I think we really need some kind of public option to keep health care costs down, and to ensure that people are not going bankrupt as a result of their health. That said, I think there are a few good things in this bill that will help tremendously:
1) Requiring insurance companies to cover children on their parents' plans until the age of 26. This alone will cover a major section of the population without health coverage. I know when I turned 21 it was a concern of mine, though I found a job with good insurance for a few years. When I returned to school, though, I was left out in the cold. The early 20s is a time when a lot of people are either in school and unable to afford private insurance or working at a crappy job that doesn't offer decent insurance. I think this is a great step in the right direction.
2) No denial of coverage for preexisting conditions. Let's say you're diagnosed with cancer or some treatable but potentially fatal condition, but your health coverage runs out. As it stands, no insurance company will take you, even if you can pay for it yourself. This is unnecessary and unfair - allowing people to die because insurance companies don't want to pay.
3) Subsidized health care for lower income people. Currently over 40 million people are without health insurance of any kind. What happens as a result is that those people aren't able to visit the doctor for preventative treatments or early diagnosis. They then have to go when things get really bad and major operations are the only intervention and they are unable to pay for them. This drives up health care costs for the rest of us. "Won't this allow poor people to milk the system?" Well, that depend on what you think of as "milking the system." If you think that people don't deserve good health, if you believe that we're not already paying the costs for not providing these people with health coverage, if you believe that these people are truly just lazy bums who don't want to work for a living, then yes. I do not believe any of those things. I think that everyone deserves to be healthy, I know we're paying those costs already in the form of higher insurance premiums, and more expensive hospital costs, and I think that a lot of very hard working people are out of health care simply because of their position.
4) Tanning tax - excellent idea! Like smoking, why should the rest of us pay for higher health care costs because a few idiots think it's a good idea to expose themselves regularly to cancer-causing radiation. Let them bear the burden of the excessive cost!
My hope is that with this health care reform on the books, people will realize that it's not so bad having a healthy population and we'll be able to move toward more comprehensive reforms. At least it's a good start.