My letter to Jeff Merkley
Dear Senator Merkley,
Hello from Beaverton! My name is Edie ________, and I am writing to you, in brief, about the upcoming health care reform bills that will be presented to the Senate.
I am asking that you consider a strong public option along with informed, rational regulation of the insurance market. I also asking that you not to push through mandates. I would like to put through my reasons why:
1) A strong public option helps those who have been deemed un-insurable, usually due to chronic diseases, age or (shamefully) gender- based conditions, such as fungal infections, hormonal based illnesses or prior childbirth. By insuring these people, they would be able to receive a base level of preventive and palliative care that they otherwise would not be able to receive. This is the care that prevents expensive visits to emergency rooms that wind up being borne by taxpayers.
2) Along with a public option there must be an informed review of insurance regulations, and if possible an overhaul of how health insurance companies in this country do business, with an eye for transparency of price and choice in services paid for. There is little transparency in how doctors, clinic and hospitals are paid for their services, little transparency in how prices are fixed with certain hospitals and clinics and no competition whatsoever in terms of choice and price.
3) No mandates without the above. The Massachuetts model, while admirable, is still expensive for many families there making $50K and under ( I know only because I have school friends who live in the Boston area). In addition, there is still very little transparency.
Mandates work when you own property, such as house or a car, because you have a choice to rent a home, to rent office space or farm fields, to not drive by taking public transport or hiring taxi service or by participating in car share co-ops. owning property implies risk and responsibility, and so having insurance for property makes sure that risks and responsibility is adequately covered.
You cannot apply this same thinking to health. The human body is in a state of infinite and minute change and cannot be subject to a model of thinking that includes it in the same class as property. You cannot get rid of your body willingly, nor rent it from another party. Yes, there are risks to living , and there are responsibilities, but these cannot be equated with owning vehicles or owning real property. Humans require preventive and palliative care in ways that inanimate object do not.
The only way that a mandate could work is with a strong public option and strong Federal regulation so that there is true choice in purchasing such a plan.Otherwise, this is welfare for an industry that does not seem to care for the welfare of its customers.
In closing, may I say that I welcome your upcoming thoughts on this subject, and I look forward to a vigorous and thoughtful analysis by the Senate when you return in the fall.
May God Keep You,