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What Health Care Reform Really Means For You

If you are confused about what health care reform really means for you then I completely understand. There have been a mountain of politically motivated lies told about what's actually in the health care reform from the Republican party (including subsets of the GOP such as the "Tea Party" movement and Fox News.)

But now it's time to forget about the politics of it because health care reform is now the law in the United States. What's important is learning about what this bill actually means for you in your life. And that's what this post is about.

Seven Things You Need To Know About Health Care Reform

#1 Health Insurance Will Be More Affordable

Small businesses will be getting what amounts to the "biggest small business tax cut in history" with new tax credits which will pay up to 35% of employee health insurance. By 2014 the credits will be up to 50% of employee health insurance!

On top of that; health care reform will also make health insurance more affordable for many individuals and families because of new subsidies which will help those who can't afford to pay for health insurance on their own.

#2 The Medicare "Donut Hole" Will Be Closed

Effective immediately there will be a $250 rebate for anyone on Medicare who hits the "Donut Hole" and beginning in 2011 there will be a 50% discount on brand name drugs in the "Donut Hole." By 2020 it will be completely closed.

An additional bonus for seniors on Medicare is that there will no longer be any co-pays on preventive care doctor visits. This will go into effect on January 1, 2011.

Although the Republicans were able to successfully scare many seniors about Medicare benefits being cut by health care reform, the truth is exactly the opposite. Medicare benefits are expanded by this bill.

#3 Ends Discrimination Against Those With "Pre-Existing Conditions"

Because of this bill, this September it will no longer be legal for health insurance companies to deny children health insurance coverage due to a "pre-existing condition." In 2014 this law will go into effect for adults too.

When Republicans run on "repeal" what they are really running for is the ability for health insurance companies to not cover newborn babies because of a "pre-existing condition" (yes, this really happens right now.)

#4 Bans Health Insurance Companies From Dropping Sick People

The common health insurance practice known as "rescission" is no longer legal because of this bill. Prior to this bill becoming law it was very common for health insurance companies to simply drop people from their coverage when they became sick (when they start losing the health insurance company money!) What's the point of having insurance if it may be dropped when you need it most?

#5 32 Million More Americans Will Be Able To Get Health Insurance

When the Republicans run on "repeal" what they are really running on is kicking 32 million of our fellow Americans to the curb.

#6 Coverage For Young Adults

Young adults often fall through the cracks of health insurance with the old system, but now young adults will be able to stay on their family's health insurance plans through age 26.

#7 Cuts The Deficit By 1.3 Trillion Dollars

Not only is this health care reform bill "paid for" it will actually reduce the deficit by $1.3 trillion dollars over the next 20 years.
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What's In The House Health Care Bill?

It seems like all we hear about on the news is the politics of health care. Unfortunately the media seems far more interested in the dog & pony show that is our political system today rather than in actually covering the facts of the health care debate. Do CNN or Fox ever actually tell people what's in the House Health Care Bill that was passed last Saturday?

Since the news media isn't doing their job, I guess I'll have to do it for them. This is what's actually in the House Health Care Bill passed by Congress:

+ A ban on lifetime limits which currently bankrupt many sick people.

+ A ban on coverage denials based on "pre-existing conditions."

+ A ban on premium disparity based on health status and gender.

+ An individual mandate that would require people to buy health insurance.

+ An employer mandate that would require companies to cover their employees. Small businesses would be exempted from this requirement.

+ Funding to create an insurance exchange to serve Americans who are not covered by an employer based insurance plan.

+ A government insurance option that would compete against private plans in that insurance exchange. Only those who do not already have health insurance would be eligible to choose it. No one would ever be forced to use the government option if they don't want to use it.

+ Health insurance subsidies to help households earning up to $88,000 per year.

+ Medicaid expansion which would provide free health care to all Americans with incomes below 150% of the federal poverty level. This would provide health care to millions of Americans who are currently without health care coverage.

+ A new tax on those making over $500,000 a year (that's over $1 million for a household) to help cover the costs. No one earning less than half a million dollars a year would see any new taxes under this plan.
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Strong Support For Public Option

Those of us who have looked at the health care reform issue closely know that the public option is an essential part of meaningful health care reform (and yes the current US health care system is a disaster.)

What may not be so clear from the way the mainstream (CNN etc) and right wing (Fox News) news media is covering the story is that the public option also has overwhelming support among the the American people in general and among doctors in particular.

These are the numbers from the latest CBS/NY Times poll:

Overall Americans: 65% support the public option, only 26% are opposed.

Democrats: 81% support, 12% oppose. (All Democrats in the Senate ought to look at that real closely.)

Republicans: 47% support, 42% oppose. (Yes, even Republicans support the public option!)

Independents: 61% support, 30% oppose. (The all important swing voters, they're for it by a 2 to 1 margin!)

It's obvious that if the Senate is doing the will of the people rather than the will of the insurance companies that the public option will be included as a part of their final bill. If it is not then they shouldn't expect to get re-elected next time around.

Among doctors support for the public option is even stronger than it is among the population as a whole as 73% of doctors support either a public option or medicare for all (and obviously those who support medicare for all would support the public option over no public option, as a compromise.)

Personally I think medicare for all ("single-payer") would be the best solution. But the public option is a reasonable compromise.
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President Obama's Health Insurance Reform Plan

It's now very easy to find out exactly what President Obama's health insurance reform plan is all about. Watch this four minute video so that you can be informed on this very important issue:

I highly recommend that you go to so you can find out what you can do to help the cause of health care reform! This is truly a battle between the American people against the health insurance companies (and the politicians that they control.)

They have billions of dollars (they made by not providing decent coverage to millions of Americans) to buy off politicians but we have our votes! We have to make our voices heard.

Tell your Senators and your Congressman (or woman) that you will not support them next time around unless they come out strongly for the public option (it's an essential part of making this health care reform truly meaningful.)

Besides contacting your representatives, another thing you can do is write an op-ed to your local newspaper explaining why you support health care reform.

For more information go to the Health Care page on Obama's website.
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President Obama On Health Care

For anyone who missed President Obama's speech on health care reform last Wednesday I have included it (in it's entirety) right here! Check it out. This is really something every American should see.

Please be sure to really listen to this with an open mind if you are someone who is on the fence about health care reform or who has bought into some of the lies being spread by those who are against it (the Republicans trying to win a political victory at the expense of the health of the American people and the insurance companies who want to keep making billions in profits by not providing the coverage they should be.)

The President does a good job of explaining what the real goals of health care reform are (such as making it illegal for health insurance companies to discriminate against those with "pre-existing conditions") and of explaining why health care reform is really a moral issue (how can sit back and do nothing while THOUSANDS of Americans die every year due to lack of health care coverage?)

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