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Top 5 Health Care Reform Questions
- What if I already have health insurance coverage and I'm happy with my coverage?
Answer: No, you will not lose your health insurance. However, there are provisions in the various bills that, over time, would require either your employer (who provides you healthcare insurance) or the insurance companies (if you buy insurance directly) to provide a minimum level of coverage and benefits. Meaning, there will be certain healthcare services across the country that will have to be provided for the insurance plan to be considered qualified. This would be phased in and is what is causing confusion with people saying "I would lose my health insurance" — in truth, it will change but it is worth noting that insurance coverage always changes.
- What if I don't have health insurance?
Answer: The goal of healthcare reform is simple: cover all Americans. While the details of the bills are still be worked out, the plan is to cover everyone. There are concerns people will be left out, but that will depend on what bill is ultimately worked out in congress. Only then will we know the details. It is worth mentioning: People may not want insurance or may not want the minimum levels being mandated by the legislation. People who want the protection, however, should be able to have it in the future.
- Can I still obtain health insurance with a preexisting condition?
Answer: The most consistent piece of language in all the health reform bills from congress is the elimination of preexisting conditions — these words will be most likely be eliminated from the healthcare dictionary.
- How will my Medicare benefits be affected?
Answer: Right now, there is nothing to indicate there would be any changes to Medicare. There is discussion on reducing payments to physicians and hospitals but not levels of service on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries. What is causing confusion and fear is the need to reduce cost from the current Medicare system to be able to pay for all the newly insured Americans. Congress has not drafted the detail plans on how to reduce the costs beyond broad strokes. In the absence of concrete details, people assume services will be cut. Right now, that is not the case.
- What is a "death panel" and is it real?
Answer: "Death Panels" is the new hot phrase created to inject controversy into the healthcare reform debate. There is nothing in any bill or in the plan to create a panel that will decide at what point there will be NO funding available to pay for end of life care — "the death panel."
The current bills have a new patient/physician visit type, whereby Medicare will now pay for physicians' time when they discuss end of life care issues with patients. Currently physicians cannot specifically bill for the time he/she spends with a patient discussing this very difficult, yet important, topic. This provision was introduced as a way of facilitating the discussion between doctors and their patients and families on making important decisions on how much intervention they will want at the end of their lives. It doesn't call for panels or denial of treatments because of a person's age or condition.