Promises, Promises in Healthcare Reform

UHCEF Article of Interest

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Boston Globe (click here for link to original letters to the editor)
Letters to the Editor
March 17, 2007

PEOPLE OF all stripes are closely following the state health reform plan as it is rolled out. Many are beginning to feel that in fact it will be rolling over quite a few in need of affordable quality healthcare (“State OK’s 7 low-cost health plans for uninsured,” Business, March 9).

The utter irony of the quote from Jon Kingsdale, a former Tufts HMO executive and the executive director of the Commonwealth Connector board, is as tragic as it is absurd: “We want to get everybody in the Commonwealth using health insurance, but we also want to be humane and recognize the exceptions.”

This statement amounts to applauding the law’s “individual mandate exemption” that will allow moderate-income state residents who lack health insurance to request a “humane” exception in order to not face tax penalties while receiving state permission to remain uninsured.

ANN ELDRIDGE MALONE
Jamaica Plain
The writer, a registered nurse, is executive director of the Alliance to Defend Health Care.

JAMES ROOSEVELT, chairman of the private insurers’ trade organization, dismisses worries about the affordability of the state’s mandated health plans (“Misinformation and fear muddy healthcare debate,” Letters, March 13). He trumpets the fact that plans without deductibles will be available. What he doesn’t say is that these plans will have huge copayments. In the “basic” no-deductible plan, patients will have to pay 35 percent of the total cost of hospital care, X-rays, lab tests, and outpatient surgery. Even a simple appendectomy would cost thousands out-of-pocket. Few of the uninsured could afford this, especially after forking over premiums of between $3,028 (for a 26-year-old) to $6,056 (for a 56-year-old).

The Connector (the agency running the new health reform) and the insurance companies boast about the low-cost, quality coverage they’re forcing the uninsured to buy. But they admit, in insurance speak, that the new plans have 60 percent of the actuarial value” of a comprehensive plan. Stripped of jargon, this means the uninsured will get 60 percent of the coverage people like Mr. Roosevelt have for their families. And he could afford high copayments and big deductibles. Our patients can’t.

Drs. STEFFIE WOOLHANDLER and DAVID U. HIMMELSTEIN
Cambridge
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