What is Obama's Healthcare Plan in layman's?

Mods : Please feel free to move this thread. It started out as a question, but I can easily see the focus shifting to a “Great Debate”.

I am a self proclaimed layman. I’m not a drooling, mouth breathing moron. But, by the same token, I’m not the beacon of knowledge and wisdom that so many of us aspire to be. Lately, I’ve witnessed much uproar regarding Obama’s health care plan. The thing is, amidst the venemous debate, I’ve heard nothing of the actual meat of his plan. I could search Google for hours and try to formulate an opinion based on the tens of thousands of blog and forum posts regarding the issue. Problem is, I’m a busy guy and a practicer of willful ignorance (much like millions upon millions of other eligible voters in this country).

It is my opinion that the Straight Dope contains, within it’s forum members, the greatest cumulative knowlodge of any mainstream internet message board. So, I ask ye’, the teeming masses for your synopsis of this healthcare bill. What’s the plan? Will private insurance companies go by the wayside or would the government subsidize our membership with already existing insurance companies? Will we be subject to rigorous health improving regiments lest we lose our coverage? How would the bill affect our privacy? How would the pay of doctor’s be affected - would it be affecteded at all? Being somebody who works his arse off for $8 an hour with no insurance, why should I be against the bill (This is an honest question. Being in the financial predicament I’m in, I am naturally inclined to support universal healthcare in the name of self preservation. I recognize my bias while accepting the fact that I could still be wrong. I want to hear a compelling argument as to why I should take heed).

I’d like to keep this factual, but understand if it turns into a debate - this is a heated issue, after all. So, tell me guys/gals, what’s this bill all about?

If you can wait until Wednesday night, you can hear from the man himself.

Until then, there is no real way to clearly answer the question because there is no single “Obama’s health plan.” Rather there are a number of competing bills in Congress with different provisions, and other proposals that have varying chances to make it into any law that may be eventually passed. Much of the debate is among people who want to advocate or oppose potential elements of the plan that may or may not make it into the final law.

This is a pretty good comparison of the two main Congressional proposals: http://www.kff.org/healthreform/upload/healthreform_tri_full.pdf

It’s 13 pages. It’s a complex topic that can only be simplified so far, but I do think your time would be well invested in learning about it.

More sophisticated comparison of multiple proposals is available here:http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm

My guess is that in your circumstances you shouldn’t be against the bill. I, on the other hand, want to keep what I’ve got without paying more for it and also without paying for yours.

So when the details come out, you’ll probably be for it and I’ll probably oppose it.

Thanks for the quick answers guys. I look forward to hearing Obama’s speech Wednesday. Thank you John Carter of Mars for at least legitimizing and understanding my bias.

To John Carter of Mars, I definitely respect your opinion. Politically, I’m slightly on the “stinkin’ hippie” side of the spectrum, but I can certainly understand your views. If you’ve busted your bum through college to get a job with exceptional pay (that’s an assumption, possibly incorrect), why should you be expected to support those who were okay with being second best? With that said, would the increases in your taxes be more than you already spend on healthcare? If not, do you expect “sociaized” healthcare to be vastly inferior to your current health care provider?

As others have said, there are competing bills, but that doesn’t really answer your question. I’ve seen numerous speeches and press conferences by the president on this issue, and I think I can break down his particular preference into layman’s terms. I’m a layman myself.

He would like the insurance companies to have to compete with government provided health care. People can choose to keep the insurance they have now, if they’re happy with it. Or, they can opt into the same system that covers members of Congress. He has articulated his overall philosophy by saying words to this effect: that members of Congress should not enjoy greater health care than their constituencies (you and me).

He would also like to reduce the costs of health care per se by creating a central database of patient records. This would save doctors from having to copy and forward files of medical records. Doctors often charge patients for doing this, and sometimes the files are very thick. It is true that such a system could be hacked, but a person could also break into a doctor’s office and steal a file.

Third, he would like to reduce the cost of overall treatment by elminating unnecessary duplications of tests that are often ordered for no reason other than the reimbursement for them is profitable. So, a patient might be given some test — call it X — and then given the X test again, not because it might give new information, but because the doctor can collect insurance or medicare payments for it. While, on the other hand, doctors might shy away from necessary tests because there’s no profit in it.

Finally, he would like to put more resources in preventative care. He theorizes that it costs less to care properly for teeth than it does to do root canals and partial plates. Or, it costs less to promote a healthy diet and exercise than it does to treat adult onset diabetes.

So, in a nutshell, his own plan requires addressing all these concerns at once: the rising prices of insurance; the administrative costs of maintaining records, and the costs incurred by needless tests (along with disincentivizing the avoidance of needed treatements), and provide incentives and coverage for preventative care. He insists that leaving out any part greatly impacts the whole.

He also would like to see “pre-existing” conditions exempted from some of the underwriting criteria, especially when the pre-existing condition has been cured or is not a real actuarial issue.

Harriet the Spry, thanks for the links. The way I understand it, I would be required to have healthcare unless I wanted to pay a penalty on my taxes. My employer would be required to subsidize somewhere in the area of 60-72.5% of my healthcare, which means in my current situation, I could still be stuck with a monthly tax liability in the range of ~$50/month or so. Is this correct? I’m employed by a small, struggling upstart that would really feel the burn if this were the case. I would still kill to have good coverage for $50/month, but I can see where this would throw a wrench in things if my employer had to pay $150 a month in healthcare costs.

You on the other hand realize that our present system is unsustainable. You also know it doubled in price the last 10 years. You also know that it will double by 2020 again. You also know whatever you like so much will change if we just leave our stupid system in place. I am sure you know that as premiums go up ,companies respond by passing on the costs and cutting the benefits.

But the idea (as I explained in some detail) is to get the $150 a month cost down. Way down.

Liberal, I did not mean to ignore your quite valid arguement. In the course of posting my comment, I had boiled a pot of tea and used the restroom - I had missed your first comment altogethe while compiling my responses. You did a great job of breaking it down for the “common man”. Thank You.
As a regular “John Doe” who has been jaded by such anomolies as the “unjustifiable” upward trend of bouncing gasoline prices (you all know the story of the catepillar who climbs 1 foot upwards only to fall one foot down), I’m curious as to how you feel health care prices will actually fall pending the passing of the bill. Will lower premiums actually be forced by the government- if so, how? Will this be a breach of government rights as layed out by the Constitution?

Thanks for bearing with me guys - I’ve come into the conversation as openly minded as I can be, and I’m amazed that you all have been so accomodating. That’s why I asked you all instead of anyody else.

Mods : Go ahead and move this to Great Debates. There is no solid anwer to this question, which was my original assumption. Thanks!

Here’s a good FAQ

Moving from GQ to GD at request of OP.

General Questions Moderator

But isn’t that true of socialized medical systems as well? Canada’s total health care spending went from $80 billion in 1998 to $171 billion in 2008. The UK’s spending has increased from £59 billion in 1998 to £104 billion in 2008. And both project large increases in the future.

Since the older a person is, the more health care they need, and the average age in every developed country is increasing; either the amount of health care spending will have to increase significantly and/or health care will have to be rationed. There is no way around that, baring some radical technological innovation(s) that massively decreases health care costs.

No problem. You’re welcome.

No, the government won’t (and can’t) force lower premiums directly. In other words, the president can’t say, “Lower your premiums. So mote it be.” But what he can do (or more precisely what Congress can do) is put the same coverage Congress gets on the open market. It is very inexpensive. This would force insurance companies to lower their prices only in the sense that, to maintain their customer base, they would have to be competitive with the government’s coverage.

The only way to lower Costs is through competition. Competition between doctors, between drugs, between test providers, medical equipment sellers, everyone. (And “competition” means something more than “players in the market.” It means how well information is disseminated, what barriers are to switch suppliers, etc., with the result that the best value for the lowest cost is always picked.) There are things in the plans that will facilitate this (eg, competition w/ gov., record database), but no wide-ranging push. For that reason, the plan won’t fix the system.

(People may disagree and say, “no, because our system is capitalist, the things you outline as being necessary for competition are already fully in place.” And those people would be WRONG.)

So what coverage does congress get, and why is it inexpensive? This part I don’t get. I imagine they’d have very comprehensive, expensive coverage. Moreover, are you saying hat insurance companies charge premiums considerably in excess of what they pay out? Or else how would their prices be lowered?

wrong thread.

Well, doing nothing is not an option.

Some intesting statistics from todays Denver Post. I can’t guarantee that they are true though. This was from article by P.R. Reid.
In the US, 20% of health care costs go to administration. If anyone has seen the billing nightmare that is US health care, you would not be surprised one bit. France is 4%. Canada 6%.
“On average, the Japanese go to the doctor 15 times a year, three times the US rate”. Yet their individual health care costs are half of the US. $3,4oo a year per person in Japan, compared to $7000 in the US. The same MRI in the US that costs $1500 costs $98 in Japan.

Which they can’t. The government program can operate at a loss and survive on deficit spending whereas the private companies must have a model that generates profits. The government program will win every time and run the private insurers out of business.

Now, you may think that is wonderful, but lets frame the debate in terms of socialized medicine v. private system instead of pretending that “people can keep the coverage that they currently have”.