Choose Choice

I have been out of the office in meetings all morning, and I am now being asked to go back to the scene of the crime for another 2-hour meeting this afternoon. I’m considering chaining myself to my desk in protest. There ought to be a law.

Anyway, on a less melodramatic note, here’s a little health care-related reading for your afternoon. Consumer Reports has a new investigative piece online exposing junk private health insurance plans and showing you what it means to be underinsured. Here’s a snippet:

Just ask Janice and Gary Clausen of Audubon, Iowa. They told us they purchased a United Healthcare limited benefit plan sold through AARP that cost about $500 a month after Janice lost her accountant job and her work-based coverage when the auto dealership that employed her closed in 2004.

“I didn’t think it sounded bad,” Janice said. “I knew it would only cover $50,000 a year, but I didn’t realize how much everything would cost.” The plan proved hopelessly inadequate after Gary received a diagnosis of colon cancer. His 14-month treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy, cost well over $200,000. Janice, 64, and Gary, 65, expect to be paying off medical debt for the rest of their lives.


“Rice is rice and gasoline is gasoline. When you buy it, you know what it is,” [Karen] Pollitz said. “Health insurance—who knows what it is? It is some product that’s sold by an insurance company. It could be a little bit or a lot of protection. You don’t know what is and isn’t covered. Nothing can be taken for granted.”

That’s why you should be demanding health care reform legislation includes giving everyone the choice of a public health insurance plan. That plan would set the standard for benefits, be transparent, be affordable based on your income, and give you a benchmark by which to evaluate private health insurance plans. You’d be able to figure out if insurance companies were padding their bids. You’d know if they were trying to rip you off. You’d finally have an alternative to the complicated, Wall Street-driven health insurance industry.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

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