Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Globe's Health Story: One Way to Look at It

Anyone think this article is a bit ridiculous?
Insurers and small business groups said the findings show that mandates are helping to drive up costs, making coverage unaffordable as many businesses and workers struggle. The business groups said the mandates translate to roughly $1,300 annually per employee in a family health care plan.
That's certainly one way to look at it. The other way is to make sure that everyone who pays for health insurance is getting a minimum quality of care. If we don't mandate certain care, it's not going to covered - leaving people with still expensive health insurance, but insurance that will leave them out to dry. That's basically the worst case scenario of health care: expensive and worthless at the same time.

Making the article even more ridiculous is the next sentence:
Excluding such benefits, the report concludes that the cost of the state's mandates would be no higher than $687 million a year, or roughly 6 cents of every $1 paid for health insurance.
This isn't even really a story.

Of course the real story is the fact that the health insurance lobby doesn't want new mandates, several of which the state is now considering. There's a very simple reason why: if we require new mandates, it will mean the insurance industry will be slightly less profitable, perhaps eating some of their profits to help defray rising costs, or requiring bottom-dwelling plans to now cover what people had to buy more expensive plans to get in the past. Oh, oh - allowing people who pay more for plans with bigger perks to get some of these services with suddenly cheaper options? Scary!! Even more important - who knows how many thousands of people will now have access to quality mental health care, allowing this state to become better and more productive.

So, what is the health insurance lobby so afraid of?
The Department of Public Health evaluation - based on a review of past studies, an actuarial analysis, and interviews with Massachusetts insurers and providers - projected that the mental health parity legislation, which overwhelmingly passed the House Monday, would add between 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent to the cost of insurance. That works out to between 46 cents and $1.39 per member per month....

That law, however, still allows limits on hospitalizations and outpatient treatment for dozens of maladies, such as eating disorders, post-traumatic stress, and drug addictions. The new bill, which is awaiting Senate action, seeks to eliminate those limits.
I'm sure the health care lobby, as well as business community, would love for our state and federal governments to gut mandated health care, or at least make sure no more mandates are added - so insurance companies can offer a few even more bare-boned plans that some of the current disaster insurance plans out there don't cover (pun intended). Businesses, for their part, would love to stop offering the more expensive plans altogether. The people? We want good health care, thank you very much. Making sure our mental health is treated with as much care and respect as our physical health is the best way toward doing that.

We have a government to make sure that the people are protected - that we, the people, create necessary rules in order to maintain society. Mandating certain coverage is just one additional way to make sure everyone's protected. Nothing in life is free, but expensive and good is much better than still expensive yet worthless. For a few dimes a month, this new mandate is well worth it.

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