Wednesday, February 01, 2006

SOTU and Health Care

Lost in all the hubbub of the President's State of the Union Address last night, I fear is a real concern to many Americans.

By the most recent statistics, some 45 million Americans have no health insurance. Most of these people are actually working poor. Over half of the uninsured Americans earn less than $39,000 (twice the federal poverty level). Residents of the South and West are far more likely to have no health insurance than people of other regions of the country.

The President's speech talked briefly about health care:
Keeping America competitive requires affordable health care.

Our government has a responsibility to help provide health care for the poor and the elderly, and we are meeting that responsibility.

For all Americans -- for all Americans -- we must confront the rising cost of care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, and help people afford the insurance coverage they need.

We will make wider use of electronic records and other health information technology to help control costs and reduce dangerous medical errors.

We will strengthen health savings accounts, making sure individuals and small-business employees can buy insurance with the same advantages that people working for big businesses now get.

We will do more to make this coverage portable, so workers can switch jobs without having to worry about losing their health insurance. (emphasis added)
Small business owners feel the biggest pinch when it comes to providing health insurance for their employees. They want to, but the cost is often prohibitive or so high that the employee has to pay a larger percentage of the premium as compared to other large company employees.

If you own a small business, or work for a small business, you need to look both at this guide and at this bill, now making its way through Congress. The bill, HR 525, sets up rules and guidelines for association health plans (AHP).

AHPs allow trade and business associations to use the combined purchasing power of their members to obtain health insurance at lower rates than a single small business can. If you own a small business, or work at a small business, or know someone who does, this is a bill that we as Americans need to get passed.

I know that it is not perfect, but the bill many allow as many at 20-25 million Americans to get health care, a 50% reduction in the uninsured!!! Is that not worthy legislation.

The health insurance industry claims to want to help small businesses obtain health insurance, but not through AHPs because they feel the AHPs will be exempt from rules that traditional insurance plans have to comply with and that is somehow unfair. Well, tough noogies. Insurance companies have gaggles of lawyers and compliance specialists to help them comply with the law. If AHPs are passed, you can guarantee that insurance companies are going to be scrambling to offer products. So why the dichotomy in public approaches? Who knows.

Call your Senators and tell them to pass HR 525. The insurance industry has their lobbyists, but you can tell them what you think is best for 20 million Americans who need health insurance now.

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