Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What I Asked My Congressman

Here's the message I send my Congressman. Pity I started it the way I did, but I do doubt that anything I say will make a difference to my Congressman.
I realize you are a Republican and this email is probably a waste of my time. However, I am one of your constituents and I have definite opinions about health care. I'm a baby boomer and my husband is just a couple of years older than a baby boomer. Like most people our ages, we have been looking forward to retirement. Unfortunately, retirement looks to be almost impossible. I do not work outside the home and, with the economy, my job prospects are a bit skimpy! My husband can not retire because our health insurance is through him. Sure, he can buy health insurance unless the lump in his neck is cancer. Then we will both be in a position of being uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions.
Our health care situation is out of control. Insurance companies control what procedures doctors can order and what medications doctors can prescribe. Frankly, I don't think the government can be any worse. Did you know that there are two preparations for a colonoscopy, both cost the same amount, one forces the patient to drink a gallon of nasty tasting liquid but is covered under insurance, the other requires the patient to drink just 1/2 gallon of nasty liquid but costs the patient $50?
I am sure you know we have one of the most expensive health care systems in the world (considering all funding sources including private insurance) and that we rank 37th or worse in quality of health care. There is no reason we cannot have the best health care in the world and still save health care dollars, but it will require that everyone work together. What I see on the news and read in the Congressional Record (and yes, I read it) is one party trying very hard to improve this country and another party saying no. Please, Representative Coffman, say yes to your constituents who want health care reform; not tort reform, but real dollars in the pockets, health insurance cards in the wallets health care reform. Don't worry about the insurance companies, they will learn to compete or they will fail. Worry about the people who live in your district and want changes in how we do health care in this country!
Our high health care costs are not exclusively the result of lawsuits and making it harder to sue if your doctor commits malpractice will not help appreciably with health care costs. Somewhere, somehow, Republicans determined that the majority of the attorneys representing people in health care related law suits vote Democratic and they are determined that Democrat lawyers are the root of all evil. That is just not the solution.
My insurance company will spend thousands of dollars on people looking for ways to not cover my health care costs and raise my rates to cover unnecessary employees. My health care costs are higher because doctors have to hire people to push the insurance companies to pay for the things they say they cover. Those are far greater costs over time than lawsuits when a doctor tells a patient that a pain is all in his/her head and, when the patient gets a stage 4 cancer diagnosis, sues to recover some of the costs insurance did not cover. We need to look to France and Great Britain and even Canada where the health care costs are lower and the quality is as good or vastly better. The Republican line is an outdated look at Canadian health care before they got the bugs out of the system with scary stories about long delayed health care. Fact is, those scary stories exist everywhere and there are more of them in the U.S. than in most other countries, particularly if you consider the many working poor who have no health insurance at all.
Isn't it a pity that the scare tactics are working again?
Received an email from my congressman supposedly responding to my email. Clearly, given what I said in my email, it was a canned response including the following lovely response to my anti-insurance industry comment:
Government can play an important role in fostering the continued prosperity of the private health insurance market and the valuable services they provide. No doubt, government has a role to play in taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves by providing a safety net via the Medicare and Medicaid programs. I support tax incentives for individuals to purchase private health insurance. This would be equivalent to what a business receives for enrollment of their employees. By providing this relief, we can expand health insurance to more Americans while also protecting the free market's ability to compete over your business.

So glad I had some influence on my Congressman -- not! Let's promote and support the health insurance industry that has my family paying more than $600 in copays this month alone!

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