As in, the most important. Their answers are truly amazing. Astounding. I will highlight some of what I consider the best (although they are the worst) of the batch with bold below. Also, make sure you don't miss the part about who will be taxed if they don't sign up for some kind of insurance... and who won't be.
Truly enlightening. It's a good thing we have the CNN spin machine to run all our sincere worries through so that they can come out all sparkly clean. No, it's not "rationing" healthcare. But, there is this term called "comparative effectiveness..."
Snakes in sweet suits. I'm talking to you, Anderson Cooper.
Question: I have been watching all of the debating. I still cannot figure out, what does this mean to me? I'm an unemployed 56-year-old. Lost my health care. Cannot afford COBRA. Now, what is there for me? I have a daughter in college. My insurance company refused to pay for therapy on my knees, calling it pre-existing. My unemployment just ran out. Now what?
Answer: When the insurance exchange opens, as required by the health care bill, people who are self-employed or whose employers don't offer coverage can purchase a plan. If you lost a job, you could get insurance through this new marketplace. (But it didn't mention "unemployed," only "self-employed, " and there's a difference.). Also, once this exchange opens, private insurers will no longer be able to turn away people with medical problems or charge them more. Individuals would be required to purchase coverage or face a fine of up to $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater, starting in 2016. The plan includes a hardship exemption for poorer Americans. Exemptions will be granted for financial hardship, those for whom the lowest-cost option exceeds 8 percent of an individual's income and those with incomes below the tax filing threshold (in 2009, the threshold for taxpayers under age 65 was $9,350 for singles and $18,700 for couples).
Question: What happens to the cost of insurance to the company that is providing the insurance to the employee? Is there a set amount or percentage of the total premium that the employer is required to pay? Will it change the mix that already exists between employer and employee responsibility?
Answer: By no later than 2014, states will have to set up Small Business Health Options Programs, or SHOP exchanges, in which small businesses will be able to pool together to buy insurance. Small businesses are defined as those with no more than 100 employees, though states have the option of limiting pools to companies with 50 or fewer employees through 2016; companies that grow beyond the size limit will also be grandfathered in. But until the SHOP exchanges are set up, there will be a tax break for small businesses that goes into effect right away: Tax credits of 35 percent to 50 percent of premiums will be available to small businesses that offer coverage. (This only mentions small businesses - with less than 100 employees. What about corporations, or any company with more than 100 employees? The answer doesn't even address them.)
Question: I am living with HIV and cannot get health care coverage. If this reform passes, how long before I am able to get coverage?
Answer: By 2014, that there would be no discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. You could not be denied based on an infection or some sort of pre-existing illness. That's four years away, though. (Thanks for your compassion, CNN!)
Question: What will happen when there are not enough doctors to oblige all the patients?
Answer: Last year, the American Academy of Family Physicians predicted a shortfall of 40,000 primary care doctors, and that was before the signing of the health care bill. That will put another 32 million people into the system -- with a promise of free preventive care -- and insurance to pay for regular doctor visits. Some physicians have expressed concern about this. Patients could see increased wait times, as in Massachusetts, where since "RomneyCare" went into effect, residents wait an 10 extra days to see the doctor. But others say the bill will help create more community health centers, so primary care can happen at these centers instead of expensive emergency rooms. (Yeah, right.)
Question: Isn't defensive medicine a big factor leading to overtreatment both at the beginning and at the end of life?
Answer: A recent Gallup Poll found that nine in 10 doctors admit having practiced defensive medicine at some time during their career. Some estimates put the cost at hundreds of billions of dollars in a year. If you look at all the lawsuits, there are about a million people who claim some sort of harm in any given year. But only about 11,000 lawsuits are actually paid out. Medical malpractice represents really only about 2 percent of the health care budget. (There's a pretty big disconnect between the first two and last two sentences. The latter portion of the "answer" doesn't address the actual question, which was about overtreatment increases. It only talks about malpractice lawsuits.)
Question: Is there anything in the bill about rationing health care?
Answer: No one is using the term "rationing" as part of the bill. But there is a term called comparative effectiveness. And that's this idea that we figure out what works in medicine and make sure to pay for those things. This also means that there are a lot of things being done right now where there's not scientific proof that it works and maybe those things won't get paid any more. Some people call that rationing. Other people say, look, rationing exists under the current system. It's just that the insurance companies are essentially rationing by denying payment or dropping people off their coverage.
Question: Over 30 million couples suffer from infertility in the United States. Most insurers will not cover this problem. Will the new bill finally address this as a significant health problem?
Answer: There is nothing in the bill regarding this issue. One benefit is that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to couples who suffer from infertility because it was deemed a pre-existing condition. However, in terms of covering infertility treatments or in-vitro fertilization, none of that is made mandatory under the bill for insurance companies. (Plenty of money for abortions and birth control via "Planned Parenthood," but nothing for infertility cases between married people. Yup, that makes sense.)