OBAMA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN & ITS CRITICS
Student readings examine the president's plan and the responses of critics and commentators. Discussion questions follow, as well as suggestions for engaging students' family members in a dialogue about the issue.
by Alan Shapiro
The president's health insurance plan
- Allows people who have health insurance they like to keep it
- Makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage
- Ends premium discrimination based on gender; limits it based on age
- Prevents insurance companies from dropping coverage if medical condition was not listed on application, except in cases of fraud
- Prohibits insurance companies from placing annual or lifetime caps on benefit payments
- Eliminates extra charges for preventive care like a colonoscopy
- Eliminates gradually a gap in Medicare drug benefit that can now cost a senior $4,080
- Creates a marketplace that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy one they prefer at a competitive price
- Provides tax credits to help lower-income people and small businesses buy insurance
- *Offers a public health insurance option designed to promote competition and provide more choice
- Offers new low-cost coverage to provide insurance immediately to people with pre-existing conditions until the new marketplace of options is created by 2013
For all Americans:
- *Is supposed to save money, not add to the deficit, and is to be paid for upfront
- Requires additional budget cuts if savings are not realized
- Creates an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to make annual recommendations to Congress on how to promote greater efficiency and higher quality in Medicare
- Requires large employers—those with more than 50 workers—to cover their employees
- Requires independent workers who can afford it to purchase coverage but provides a "hardship exemption" for those who cannot
Student Reading 2:
Critics and commentators
- What are their reactions to Obama's plan and why?
- What particular concerns do they have? What do they think about a "public option" and what any health insurance reform bill needs to say about cost containment?
- What do they know about the "single-payer" proposal? What opinions do they have about it?
- What do they think about Weil's emphasis on "integrative medicine" and "integrative care"?
- Do they agree with Pollan's argument that the biggest healthcare problem for Americans is "a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet"? Why or why not?
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