By Sharon Freeto
In the words of the candidate himself, “We now face an opportunity – and an obligation – to turn the page on the failed politics of yesterday’s health care debates…My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.”
The plan is modeled after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program presently enjoyed by members of Congress, and will cover all “essential medical services,” including often-overlooked areas like preventive, maternity and mental health care. It promises premiums, co-pays and deductibles which will be lower than presently available.
Those not qualified under present low-income based government insurance programs will receive federal subsidies tied to their incomes. Using that subsidy they may buy either the new public health insurance or a private health care plan.
The plan also aims to simplify the paperwork and make the enrollment easily and widely available. It will have portability through the National Health Insurance Exchange (A proposed coordinating and regulating group for all private health insurers). In addition, health insurance will be required for all children including young adults up to the age of 25 who may continue coverage through their parents’ policy.
All health care providers will be required to provide full transparency regarding costs and quality including data on preventable errors, nursing staff ratios, and infection rates. In addition, all providers will be required to keep patient records in electronic form while guaranteeing privacy.
Under this plan prescription drugs may be purchased from other developed nations. It will repeal the present ban prohibiting government negotiating with drug companies and increase the use of generic drugs in existing federal health insurance coverage programs while eliminating loopholes that allow drug companies to keep generics off the market.